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Osborne House

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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osborne house estate from queen victoria and prince albert on isle of wight Osborne House. Image by L. M. Clancy.
For their privately owned residence, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House and the 800 hectares upon which it stood from Lady Isabella Blachford in 1845. In 1848 the house was demolished and a three-story pavilion was built, complete with a flagtower, main wing and household wing.

Cottages and lodges for estate workers and members of the household sprouted across the estate. The aptly-named circuitous Ring Walk, takes in historic features like the mount, the pond and the restored ice-house. Prince Albert oversaw the planting scheme, whose influences included: the property's already well-established late-18th century landscape; his own liking for poplars found at his family home of the Rosenau; and his passion for the Italian fashion of lining principal drives and walks with evergreens including myrtle and laurel.

Herbaceous borders planted with sub tropical and unusual species very fashionable at the time of Queen Victoria. Pleasure grounds containing mature specimens of unusual trees, many of which were some of the first introductions into Britain planted by dignitaries and royalty in Victorian times.

ocean view and osborne house estate of queen victoria and prince albert on isle of wightPrince Albert exhibited his love for the Italian practice of placing evergreens along principal driveways and walks. Image by L. M. Clancy.

walled kitchen garden of queen victoria and prince albert osborne house on the isle of wightThe 18th century walled kitchen-garden adjacent to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Osborne House on the Isle of Wight has succumbed to modern floral attitudes. Image by L. M. Clancy.

Prince Albert and Ludwig Fruner supervised the construciton of the upper and lower terraces as well as their parterres interspersed with statues representing the seasons. The parterre gardens and terraces have all been restored to their Victorian layout and are once again planted in seasonally changing Victorian bedding. These terraces host the many statues which Victoria and Albert bought to decorate these formal areas.

The walled kitchen-garden and adjoining pleasure grounds in front of the house exhibit their original 18th century landscapes. Regarding the walled kitchen-garden: "Designed by Rupert Golby, it represents the dynamic nature of the fruit and flower planting of this important aspect of the Osborne Estate. Features include a variety of Victorian trained fruit trees, expansive cut flower borders and rose and fruit arches."

An important visit or special anniversary was sometimes commemorated by planting a memorial tree, of which at least 270 existed throughout the estate. There are many examples of magnificent trees at Osborne including specimens of the Cork Oak, Quercus suber, from the bark of which is commercially harvested in Spain and Portugal for making corks, Cedars of Lebanon, and specimen evergreens. There is also an extensive collection of species and varieties of Ilex (Hollies), the impressive walled trained Magnolia grandiflora and the famous Royal Myrtle Myrtus communis. The herbaceous borders include many unusual Victorian bulbs and plants particular to that period and historic varieties of vegetables and fruit can also be seen. English Heritage

The Swiss Cottage's adjacent garden was for the children to grow and sell vegetables; this was Prince Albert's effort to instill economic principles into the children. "Vegetables and fruit were grown which were sold to Prince Albert, at commercial rates for use in the house, providing them with a practical exercise in market gardening and commerce. A small thatched summerhouse contains the scaled-down garden tools branded with their owner's initials, which the Royal children used." 1


English Heritage: Osborne House - Isle of Wight. (link)