The Isle of Wight Society

February 2019

This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.Here on the Island we are privileged to have one of their own homes, Osborne House, now a magnet for tourists. 

 To us on the Island, Osborne is an ideal place to take visiting friends and relatives. More of the property and grounds have been opened up to the public in recent years, so much so it is difficult to appreciate the whole estate properly in just one day. Given summer weather and the right state of tide, the beach can provide a swim. A children’s play area by Swiss Cottage gives a place for children to let off steam, and the playground by the car park is one of the best on the Island. Dogs on leads are permitted in many areas of the grounds, enhancing the pleasure of visiting the estate.  So we are using Osborne today as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert enjoyed it, as a country retreat to enjoy with the children and dogs. I think she would have been amused.

 A permanent walk of history is being planned in East Cowes, walking in the footsteps of those eminent people who arrived in East Cowes and travelled up York Avenue to Osborne House. These included prime ministers and lords, princes and princesses, John Brown and the Munshi, Marconi and Alexander Bell and even an elephant! A beautiful tapestry, stitched by residents, is nearing completion and will be unveiled at Osborne House on May 23. There will be many other activities in the town over the birthday weekend (May 25 to 26), including an exhibition at the town hall, looking at the impact the royal family had on East Cowes. An exhibition about the effect on Whippingham is already on display at East Cowes Heritage Centre. 

 At Whippingham, the Queen and Prince Albert completely remodelled the church, so there was suitable seating for the family and household. The Queen’s youngest daughter, Beatrice, was married there to Prince Henry of Battenberg. The Battenberg chapel houses their tombs.

 Prince Phillip’s grandparents are buried in Whippingham churchyard, so the church is still a place that members of the royal family visit when they are on the Island.

Sarah Burdett

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Isle of Wight Society
East Cowes Heritage Centre, 8 Clarence Road
East Cowes, PO32 6EP

Tel: +44 (0) 1983 280310

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