Queen Victoria’s hideaway revealed
This evening, after our little tête-à-tête dinner, we went out for a little on the Terrace, & nothing could have been more enchanting,’ wrote Queen Victoria in her diary on June 2, 1850, at Osborne house on the isle of Wight. ‘The calm sea stretched out before us & innumerable birds singing, the only sounds to interrupt the quiet of the place.’ This week, that same private garden terrace opens to the public for the first time.
A painstaking restoration has brought back to life the italianate terrace, which was an integral part of Prince Albert’s vision for Osborne as an idyllic hideaway away from Court. Visitors can now enjoy the intricate Victorian planting—complete with the myrtle that was a present from Albert’s grandmother, a sprig of which appears in royal bridal bouquets—and the magnificent views of the solent that so inspired Victoria 150 years ago.
As part of the £600,000 refurbishment project, the alcove where Victoria sat to paint her watercolours, which is decorated with thousands of shells, has been returned to its original colour scheme of bold red and aqua (above, before and after). in addition, the And-romeda fountain, which the Queen bought at the 1851 Great Exhibition, has been refurbished and is now in full working order.
‘Queen Victoria loved to be outside in the fresh sea air and the terrace was a place of peace,’ says samantha stones of English heritage. ‘Opening up this previously closed space to visitors gives them another glimpse into the private lives of the royal couple.’ Visit www.english-heritage.org.uk for further information. CP
A right royal getaway: the public can now visit the rejuvenated Italianate terrace at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight