Osborne House, East Cowes, Isle of Wight “It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot” – such were the words of Queen Victoria after her first visit to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. No trip to the island would be complete without a visit to this royal seaside palace where Queen Victoria lived with her beloved Prince Albert and their nine children. Take an intimate glimpse into Queen Victoria’s family life as you tour the nursery and private rooms of Victoria and Albert. Marvel at the magnificence of the Royal Apartments including the sumptuous drawing and dining rooms and the richly decorated Indian-inspired Durbar Room. Admire the stunning view from the terraces across the Solent – said to remind Prince Albert of the bay of Naples – and stroll through Osborne’s extensive grounds.
QUEEN VICTORIA’S BEACH
Explore Queen Victoria’s private beach, now open to the public for the first time. “We have quite a charming beach to ourselves,” Victoria wrote in 1845 and it was here that the Queen regularly bathed and where her children learned to swim. The beach is a pleasant 20-minute stroll from the house down the Valley Path or Rhododendron Walk from the Swiss Cottage – stout footwear is recommended in the winter. Enjoy views across the Solent from Queen Victoria’s alcove, and spot seabirds from the shore.
At Swiss Cottage, the inside story of life as a Victorian royal child is revealed. Thanks to funding from donors including the Heritage Lottery Fund, vivid new displays, a garden trail and a new play area enable families to experience for themselves how the children of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert played and learnt in this unique and special place. Discover the interests and personalities of each of Queen Victoria’s nine children in the ‘Childhood at Osborne’ exhibition, play where the royal children played, and step back in time to 1861 as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert join the royal children for afternoon tea. See fascinating objects from the Royal Collection from around the world in the Museum, see the Swiss Cottage garden with the children’s vegetable plots, and enjoy a wildlife trail as you walk down to the beach.
- Victoria and Albert’s private rooms at Osborne House
- Horse and carriage rides to the house
- The Queen’s ‘bathing machine’ by her private beach
- The Swiss Cottage Museum with its Royal Collection of over three thousand artefacts
Parking Free parking 50m from reception centre, and additional parking a further 230m from the house entrance. Disabled visitors may be set down at house entrance (not coaches) by obtaining prior permission on 01983 200022. The courtesy minibus runs from the pick-up point just past Osborne House down to the beach. The return journey takes approximately 15 minutes. 10:30am until 5:00pm, April – September daily, October weekends only. Food and Drink There are four refreshment venues at Osborne House. Enjoy waiter-service gourmet food at the elegant Terrace Restaurant which serves a seasonal a la carte menu. The Terrace restaurant has wonderful views overlooking the gardens towards the Solent. The self-service café in the admission area sells light snacks including tea, coffee, soup, cakes and cold drinks. Kids lunchboxes are also available. For a quick bite, the refresher stand at the Swiss Cottage also serves a small selection of snacks and cold drinks. The Beach Café offers a delicious menu of light refreshments and hot and cold drinks. Refreshments include the Island’s own Minghella ice cream in a range of tempting flavours such as oriental ginger, passionfruit or mango. The café is perfectly situated next to Osborne’s beach, converted from a pavilion built for convalescing officers in the 1940s. Opening times: 10:30am – 3:30pm daily. Picnic Area Enjoy a summer picnic at tables dotted around the grounds. There is also a family picnic area conveniently situated by the children’s play area. Shop Large shop located at the admissions centre selling Victorian themed gifts and an extensive range of jewellery, kids toys, books, jams and drinks. Relax in a traditional seaside deckchair. All day hire costs just £2. Toilets Male and female toilets are situated at the admissions centre, main house and at the Swiss Cottage. Baby changing facilities available at the house. Disabled toilet, with ramp access, located at admissions point and main house (but not at Swiss Cottage). The beach toilets are located in the café. Fancy a paddle? Changing facilities are available at the back of the café or directly from the footpath leading from the minibus drop off point. Dogs No dogs allowed. Assistance dogs welcome. Museum Swiss Cottage holds a collection of historic items. Exhibition The exhibition in the Petty Officers Quarters is the best place to start any visit. It covers various aspects of the sumptuously furnished house and magnificent grounds, as well as the lives and personalities of the Victorian royal family and the servants who cared for them. Information plaques describing the history of the property in the admissions area. At Queen Victoria’s private beach, new exhibition panels explain how important the beach was to Victoria and her family, and how important it is today as a wildlife habitat. Gardens Osborne House is famous for its selection of formal gardens containing rare and unusual plants, and there is also plenty of space to run around. Enjoy the formal walled gardens, visit the sheltered the Walled garden, admire the view the Solent from the Palm Terrace or visit the charming gardens which surround the miniature Swiss Chalet. As well as a stunning array of plants, rare red squirrels can be spotted amongst the trees. Gravel, tarmac and concrete provide access for all abilities. Benches and rest points are dotted throughout the grounds. Family Friendly Baby Changing Facilities. Male and female toilets are situated at the admissions centre, main house and at the Swiss Cottage. Baby changing facilities available at the house. Children’s Cutlery Child Sized Portions Kids lunchboxes available Highchairs available in café and restaurant. Children’s play area/adventure playground located near the visitor car park. There is also plenty of room for children to run and play in the grounds. Pushchairs are not permitted within the House, with the exception of disabled access buggies. Pushchairs can be stored at the entrance to the house and baby carriers are available for visitor use. Slings and baby carriers available. Education Education group visits must be pre-booked. Family Learning – Kids trails and activity sheets on request. Please be aware Be aware of vehicles accessing the adjacent golf club. There are also horse and carriage, and minibus rides, operating throughout the grounds. Osborne beach looks its best between high and middle tide. Venue Hire Available for Event Hire Commercial Photography and Filming Photography is not permitted in the house due to the Royal Collection. English Heritage welcomes all photographers to our sites and we hope you will share your pictures with us on Flickr and Facebook. We do have some restrictions at certain locations, so if photography is your main reason for visiting, please call the site ahead of your visit to check if any parts of the site are restricted. We are keen to promote the use of our sites to location managers. If you are interested please go to Filming Locations for more information and contacts