Osborne House

We take a closer look at Osborne on the Isle of Wight, focusing on its links with filming and what there is for groups during the summer and winter months.

Osborne House is famous for being the private family home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It was built between 1845 and 1851 and is an Italianate styled building. It was built like this in order to fit its setting on the island, as the climate and panoramic views are said to have reminded Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples.

Film connections

Groups heading to Osborne on the Isle of Wight before October can see costumes worn by Dame Judi Dench, Eddie Izzard and Ali Fazal in the forthcoming film Victoria & Abdul, which have just gone on display there and will be on show until 30th September.

The film follows Abdul Karim who travels from India to participate in Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The pair form an unlikely friendship that Victoria’s inner circle attempts to destroy. The film is based on the book by the same name and is styled on the true life events of Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim.

A lot of the film was shot at the English Heritage property, Osborne, which gives a great backdrop for the exhibition which will feature an array of costumes worn by the principal characters: Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria, Eddie Izzard as the Prince of Wales (Bertie) and Ali Fazal who plays Abdul Karim.

The costumes designed by Consolata Boyle, pay meticulous attention to historical detail even down to the Queen’s V&A monogrammed shoes. Formal and informal attire worn by Dame Judi can be seen including a black silk gown with gold front piece the Queen wears while waiting for Abdul's return to Osborne. Amongst Ali Fazal’s costumes is the faithfully recreated scarlet and gold livery, complete with peacock blue striped silk turban, which was designed for the Queen’s Indian servants who waited at table in the Durbar Room, her Indian-inspired dining room. 

The Durbar Room hosts the exhibition of costumes and is one of several locations at the house and gardens featured in the film.

What to see on a visit

Groups visiting Osborne will get to see the state rooms of Queen Victoria where she would have entertained her important guests. Each room is full or architecture and furnishings which reflect the interests, tastes and styles of Victoria and Albert. 

The Swiss Cottage is available for looking around. This was often used by the royal children and the gardens were tended by them as well. There is also Osborne Beach nearby which Victoria herself is said to have regularly visited and is where her children learn to swim.

Victoria & Albert exhibition

Pictured: Costumes from the upcoming film Victoria & Abdul.

What else can groups expect at Osborne this summer?

The Lower Terrace, where Queen Victoria once enjoyed reading, writing and painting, opened to the public for the first time this summer after a conservation project which sees its centrepiece Andromeda fountain restored and back in action. 

Other terrace highlights groups can look out for include an elaborate alcove where the Queen once sat, decorated with seashells from her private beach and Osborne's famous myrtle – sprigs from the bush have been used in royal wedding bouquets since the marriage of Victoria's eldest daughter.

Osborne gets festive

Another first for groups to enjoy this year is the chance to see Osborne’s superb grounds transformed into a winter wonderland full of colourful lights in new Enchanted Garden evenings taking place from 15th to 23rd December. 

From 13th November until 23rd December, groups will also be able to wander around the ground floor rooms, festively decorated in the style favoured by Prince Albert, at their own pace and find out from expert room guides how Queen Victoria and her family celebrated Christmas at Osborne.

Group discounts at Osborne

Groups of 11 or more people receive a 15% discount at English Heritage properties and events. One tour leader and one coach driver are admitted free with each group and do not count towards group numbers. 

Familiarisation visits can be arranged for group organisers. Special themed tours are available for pre-booked groups as well.  

For more information, visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/osborne

Lead image: Osborne (photo credit: Visit Isle of Wight)