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Tourist & Leisure Attractions - Osborne House

Belinda and Mike - follow our tourist travels in the UK

A tour of Osborne House and Gardens on the Isle of Wight

We headed overseas (well, The Solent actually) and visited Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.  Designed by Prince Albert, Osborne House was the seaside retreat of Queen Victoria and has the most wonderfully scenic and colourful gardens within the grounds as well as the quaint Swiss Cottage.  Osborne House is in East Cowes, and is run by English Heritage.

On the deck crossing the Solent on the Isle of Wight ferry
Getting to the Isle of Wight involves crossing the Solent from mainland Britain; here's our friend Bob on deck taking a pic of the ferry going the other way to Portsmouth.  Belinda's admiring the, er, view!

In the ferry lounge on the way to the Isle of Wight
Down below deck there were plenty of comfortable seats for the short, barely half-hour crossing to the Isle of Wight.  A small cafeteria served drinks and snacks... but they'd run out of hot chocolate!

Horse and carriage transport at Osborne House, IOW
Osborne House in East Cowes was a short walk from the parking area and visitor centre.  Apart from a shuttle-bus, this quaint horse drawn carriage ride provided complementary transport for those less able as well as providing an early photo opportunity.

Osborne House at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight
Here's the visitor entrance to Osborne House itself; yes, that little door the people are heading in!  It seemed more like the back door really and totally out of place for a previous Royal Residence!  That was our first disappointment, the next was that they...

Osborne House gardens from above
...didn't permit photography inside!  An ever increasing number of visitor attractions seem to have this tiresome policy now, frustratingly Osborne House didn't bother to mention this on their website.  Anyhow, we were able to capture this shot from a window of the extensive terraced gardens below...

Osborne House gardens, IOW
...which we then wandered around once our 1 hour tour of the rather opulent Osborne House interior was done (where we marvelled at the grand Royal Apartments, Queen Victoria's private rooms, the Indian inspired Durbar Room... hmm, pity about that photo policy).  The Italianate gardens contain...

Osborne House gardens showing the fountain
...a number of fountains and statues.  This gushing one immediately in front of Osborne House caught Belinda's eye and so worth a low angle shot.  Um, all that running water, now where's the loo?

Osborne House gardens: lower terraced garden
Disappointingly the lower garden terrace was closed off to the public, another irksome thing that wasn't mentioned on English Heritage's Osborne House website.  Oh come on guys!

Osborne House gardens at East Cowes, IOW
Here's another part of the wonderful gardens at Osborne House.  There's also the restored Victorian Walled Garden to explore, with its hot houses containing exotic plants.  Adult entrance to Osborne House normally cost 10.20 at the time of our visit but we got a group rate.

Please see our UK tourist resources for associated Osborne House websites.

A statue in Osborne House gardens
A close-up of one of the many fine statues in the gardens at Osborne House.

Water feature at Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Having explored the magnificent Osborne House gardens we made our way past this dire water feature through the very extensive grounds with sea views to...

Swiss Cottage
...the miniature Swiss Cottage, where Queen Victoria's children played.  Today there's a small museum inside and a lovely wild flower meadow nearby plus further...

Victorian bathing machine in the Swiss Cottage grounds
...on in Swiss Cottage's grounds we found this bathing machine.  Queen Victoria is credited with popularising sea bathing, but in Victorian days they were a modest lot and required this contraption to change in.  Hmmm, it would make a great garden shed!

Long shot of Osborne House at East Cowes, Isle of Wight
So, time for a last look at Osborne House with its prominent Italianate towers on the half-mile walk through the grounds back to the visitor centre.  There we looked around the inevitable gift shop and had a coffee in the spacious cafe before...

The Wightlink ferry's bridge and deck
...heading back to Fishbourne to catch the ferry across the Solent to the mainland.  A shot of the ferry's bridge here, as you can see no-one else is on the sun deck!

The approach to Portsmouth showing the Spinnaker Tower
Hey, we just got overtaken by a faster ferry on the approach to Portsmouth!  And over on the right is the Spinnaker Tower, another target for a visit someday...

Also: Breamore House and New Forest in Hampshire, our Isle of Wight holiday, and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.