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Isle of Wight Things to Do: 99 reviews and 149 photos

  Osbourne House
by budapest8

Palaces on the Isle of Wight

There have also been Palaces on the Island as well. In the 1790s, two castles were built at East Cowes. One was called East Cowes Castle and was more of a mansion than a castle; it should not be confused with the original castle. It was built by John Nash, the famous architect who designed Regent Street and Regent's Park in London. Sadly, it no longer exists.

The other, Norris Castle, does still exist. It is a romantic castle featuring both square and round towers. Although designed as an imitation castle and not a real one, it is still impressive, especially with the enormous cellars below, and the spectacular sea view.

They were palaces for the wealthy, and not royalty, yet there is a Royal Palace in the form of Osborne House. Queen Victoria (1837 - 1901), despite having Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Brighton Pavilion to live in, did not rate any of them to be suitable as a family home. In 1845, she purchased the original Osborne House and an estate of 342 acres from Lady Isabella Blachford. This was too small so Thomas Cubitt was contracted to build a new Osborne House on the site, to the design of Victoria's husband Prince Albert. In June 1845 the foundation of the new pavilion wing was laid, and it was occupied in 1846. The household wing was completed in 1848, and work was started on demolishing the remainder of the old house and building the main wing in its place. By 1851 all the construction work was complete, except for the Durbar wing which was finished in 1891.

Queen Victoria lived here as often as she could, and found that the Isle of Wight's ambience and weather were similar to the Bay of Naples in Italy. The house was three stories high, with a 90ft clock tower and a 107ft flag tower. The estate soon grew to be over 2000 acres, and included a summer house, Swiss cottage, a museum and a mock fort. It was here thatQueen Victoria died on 22 January, 1901.

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  • Written Jun 3, 2006
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