Queen Victoria is everywhere at the moment, thanks to the successful motion picture ‘Victoria & Abdul’ and TV adaptation ‘Victoria’ currently on our screens. On the Island, you are never too far from her heritage and now thanks to a brand new trail, you can truly walk in her footsteps and learn more about the Island’s rich history.
The Queen, Prince Albert and their young family, were hugely fond of the Isle of Wight and visited regularly. They bought the Osborne estate on the Isle of Wight in 1845 where they created a private home away from court life. Victoria used Osborne for over 50 years, entertaining foreign royalty and visiting ministers and finding solace there after Albert’s death in 1861. The Island remained in her heart and this new trail will take you on a journey of famous locations and lesser-known spots that meant so much to the Queen:
Undoubtedly the most famous and iconic of all the Isle of Wight’s spots relating to the monarch, Osborne was the Royal Families holiday home where they spent much of their time. Here, you can visit their private beach, explore the Swiss Cottage built for their children, and walk amongst the beautiful Italianate grounds, and step inside the breathtaking house itself, full of regal history.
Carisbrooke Castle, Newport
Princess Beatrice, the Queens fifth and youngest child, made her home in the Governors House at Carisbrooke Castle from 1912 until her death in 1944. The Princess made many changes at the castle, including restoring the gatehouse as a memorial to her late husband Prince Henry Maurice of Battenberg. By 1923, she changed the garden from a kitchen garden into her private Edwardian-style pleasure garden. Today you can visit the restored Princess Beatrice Garden in all its glory.
St Mildred’s Church, Whippingham
A stones throw from Osborne, St Mildred’s was the place of worship for the Royal family when on the Island and was the site Princess Beatrice’s wedding and also where she and her husband are buried in the church grounds. The chancel of the church was built in 1854 and 1855 by the architect Albert Jenkins Humbert, and Prince Albert is thought to have had a guiding hand. The remainder of the church was constructed in 1861 and 1862 with a side chapel is dedicated to the Battenberg/Mountbatten family.
Newport Minster, Newport
Princess Elizabeth, the fifth child of King Charles I, was buried here after her death in 1650. She had been a prisoner of Parliament from the age of six and had lived her life out at Carisbrooke Castle. Although Princess Elizabeth was buried in the church, her grave remained unmarked and the actual spot was forgotten over the years. Then in 1753, workmen had to lift the floor and stumbled upon the tomb. A brass plaque was placed on the small coffin but it wasn’t until later in the reign of Queen Victoria that an examination of her remains was undertaken and then the memorial created. Sculptor Carlo Marochetti used Carrera marble to create his monument, which was presented to the church in 1857, along with a stained glass window commissioned by Queen Victoria to provide light upon the tomb.
Prince Consort, Ryde
Now a private (and very impressive) residence, the Prince Consort was originally built for Victoria as a gift from Prince Albert in the 1840s. Previously known as the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, the building looks out across the Solent from the western end of the esplanade at Ryde. It was intended as a private place for Victoria, due to the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes not allowing female visitors, even royal ones!
Northwood House, Cowes
The classic architectural manor house, was part of a huge estate owned by the Ward family. It played host to many Victorian high society balls and parties, many of which the royal family attended.
Farringford was the main base for the original Freshwater art scene of writers, artists and intellectuals, including Julia Margaret Cameron and Lord Tennyson, himself a regular guest at Osborne. Prince Albert visited in 1856. The house has recently been restored to its former glory and you can book a guided tour.
Egypt Point, Cowes
The northernmost point of the Island was one of Queen Victoria’s favourite places during her time on the Island, proving a perfect vantage point with views out across the Solent and still remains one of the best places to catch an Isle of Wight sunset.
The Royal Hotel, Ventnor
Founded in 1832, The Royal is one of the oldest hotels on the Island. Queen Victoria visited here when over in Ventnor in 1855 and enjoyed their afternoon tea so much, she gave it the royal stamp of approval. Today you can indulge in an Afternoon Tea and be treated like a queen.
Ventnor Botanic Garden
The botanic garden, home to a unique array of plants from the Victorian era, was once the grounds for the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, attracted by the undercliff’s micro-climate. One of the few areas of the Garden surviving from the days of the hospital is the Palm Garden. This area was formerly known as the Palm Court due to the presence of the specimens of the ‘Chusan Palm,Trachycarpus fortunei’. These are the oldest palms in the British Isles, collected for Veitches Nursery and were presented to Queen Victoria.
The Needles Landmark Attraction, Alum Bay
Guglielmo Marconi sent the first ever wireless transmission from The Needles and in August 1898, after being summoned to Osborne House, established radio communication between Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales, who was on board the Royal Yacht. There is a Marconi Monument at The Needles, erected to celebrate his achievements.
Blackgang Chine, Chale
One of the Island’s attractions to gain the royals seal of approval, the Queen visited here in 1853 to see the remains of a washed up whale. This was Blackgang’s very first attraction and is still there to be seen today.
With the arrival of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Osborne, Shanklin became a fashionable watering place, much frequented by European Royalty. The Chine was ‘a must’ on every Victorian itinerary, and in August 1846, the Queen and Prince Albertbrought King Leopold and Queen Louise of Belgium with them.