With miles of rolling countryside, beautiful sandy beaches and being only a short journey across the Solent, it’s no surprise our stunning island sitting just off the south coast of England, has been a popular frequent for English royalty throughout the centuries.
Maybe it was the breathtaking scenery, romantic atmosphere and slower pace of life which encouraged Queen Victoria to make the Island one of her favourite holiday destinations. Building the grand mansion we know today as Osborne in 1845, as an escape from court life in London.
Now over a century later, the legacy that Queen Victoria and her family left on the Island is still prevalent and unsurprisingly Osborne is not the only place you can visit where Queen Victoria once stepped. Here we have compiled a list of our top places to visit on the Isle of Wight to get the full ‘royal’ experience and step back in time to when Queen Victoria was once here…
With her husband Prince Albert, as well as their many children, Queen Victoria enjoyed much of her life and reign on the Isle of Wight and indeed at Osborne until her passing at the house itself in 1901. As she once said “It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot”.
2019 marks a very special event, 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who were born on 24th May and 26 August 1819. Many of the royal birthdays were spent at their holiday home and you can now experience what these celebrations would of included as Osborne celebrates with special displays showcasing many of the presents gifted at Osborne over the years.
St Mildred’s Church
St Mildred’s Church in Whippingham is thought to have been redesigned by Prince Albert himself and frequented by the Queen and her family during their time on the Island. For Queen Victoria, this church would have only been a short carriage ride from Osborne and was the main place of worship for herself, Albert and their children. Her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice married Prince Henry of Battenberg here in July 1885 with a replica of her wedding dress on display in the permanent exhibition focused on the royal family. Within the graveyard you will see an iron cross marking the grave of Prince Louis of Battenberg, 1st Marquis of Milford Haven, and his wife, Princess Victoria of Hesse, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
Now a beautiful Botanical Garden nestled on the coast of Ventnor, back in the 1800s the site was famously home to the Royal National Hospital for diseases of the chest, mostly treating patients for TB. This location was chosen as the unique climate and fresh air was thought to be an important contributing factor in healing such ailments. Queen Victoria’s own surgeon, even recommended a visit to Ventnor due to the health-giving properties of the climate. Queen Victoria’s own daughter, Princess Louise, laid the first stone for the hospital and it was visited by several members of the royal family, including Queen Victoria on at least one occasion in 1888.
A royal trail would not be complete without a visit to Carisbrooke Castle, once a grand prison to King Charles I in 1648 before his execution, this motte-and-bailey castle dates back to the Anglo-Saxon times. Queen Victoria would have visited the castle and later her youngest daughter Princess Beatrice knew Carisbrooke Castle as her part-time residence from 1933 until her death in 1944. She made many changes to the Castle, including the creation of a museum highlighting local history which acted as a memorial to her husband and also commissioning an altar painting for the chapel to commemorate the death of her son at Ypres, she certainly made her mark.
Newport Minster, also known as St Thomas’ Church, is the final resting place of Princess Elizabeth Stuart, the second daughter of King Charles I and a prisoner of parliament from the age of six until her death at Carisbrooke Castle in 1650 a year after her father’s execution. The young princess was buried in the Newport Minster where her grave remained unmarked and forgotten until 1753, when workmen stumbled upon the tomb.
A brass plaque was placed on the small coffin, but it wasn’t until later, during the reign of Queen Victoria, that an exhumation of her remains was undertaken and a proper memorial put in place. When Queen Victoria had heard the story of the princess she had commanded that a more suitable monument be erected. Sculptor Carlo Marochetti was assigned this task and used Carrara marble to create his masterpiece, which was presented to the church in 1857. As well as the sculpture, new stained glass windows were commissioned in order to shine light on the princess’s final resting place.
After Prince Albert died in 1861, a memorial plaque with a carved portrait of him was placed on the north wall of the Lady Chapel between the two stained glass windows, all of which can be visited today.
The Iconic Northwood House, set in Northwood Park in the heart of Cowes on the Isle of Wight has a rich history of hosting events and celebrations of all kinds, still a popular venue for weddings and parties to this day. Purchased in 1793, by George Ward and later renovated by his son, this huge estate was the venue for high society Victorian balls and parties, many of which were attended by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert themselves.
Queen Victoria certainly left her mark over her time on the Island and there are many other places of interest to visit including; The Royal Hotel in Ventnor, named so after her patronage Victoria endorsed their afternoon tea following her visit in 1855. You’ll be pleased to know that you can still enjoy afternoon tea at the Royal Hotel to this day!
Farringford is well known for another famous resident, Alfred, Lord Tennyson who was Poet Laureate during Queen Victoria’s reign. Tennyson’s work was regularly read by both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The prince visited Farringford on at least one occasion in 1856, leaving with a handpicked bunch of cowslips to take back for the Queen. Tennyson is also known to have visited the Queen at Osborne as mentioned in her personal journals.
You can see remnants of Queen Victoria’s influence across the Island just waiting to be discovered…