27 June 2017

Queen Victoria’s Private Garden Terrace Revealed

  • Terrace opened to the public for the first time
A garden terrace where Queen Victoria sat and painted watercolours at Osborne, her Isle of Wight home, will open to the public for the very first time after a major conservation project.
A garden terrace where Queen Victoria sat and painted watercolours at Osborne, her Isle of Wight home, will open to the public for the very first time after a major conservation project, English Heritage announced today (Tuesday 27 June).

The terrace’s panoramic views across the Solent - compared by Prince Albert to the Bay of Naples – can now be enjoyed by the public for the first time as they would have been by the royal couple over 150 years ago. In a project worth over £600,000, the terrace’s centrepiece Andromeda fountain, bought by Queen Victoria during the Great Exhibition in 1851, has been returned to working order and the elaborate Shell Alcove, decorated with thousands of seashells from the beach below, has been painstakingly restored to its former aqua blue and vivid red glory. The public will also be able to experience the terrace’s Victorian planting scheme and the famous royal myrtle plant, given to Victoria by Prince Albert’s grandmother, up-close. The myrtle, traditionally included in royal wedding bouquets since the marriage of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, has been used by HRH Queen Elizabeth II and more recently by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

English Heritage has also reinstated the classic ‘Osborne yellow’, inspired by the warm Italian sun, to the terrace walls which once again match the golden hue of the rest of the house and restore Victoria and Albert’s original vision.

In a project worth over £600,000, the elaborate Shell Alcove, decorated with thousands of seashells from the beach below, has been painstakingly restored to its former aqua blue and vivid red glory.

Samantha Stones, English Heritage’s Properties Curator at Osborne, said: “Queen Victoria loved to be outside in the fresh sea air and the terrace was a place of peace. Opening up this previously closed space to visitors gives them another glimpse into the private lives of the royal couple. Our conservation project now reinstates Albert’s original vision of Osborne.

“Matching the yellow of the walls, restoring the beautifully decorated shell alcove with its aqua blue canopy, and seeing the Andromeda fountain with her surrounding sea monsters in working order has truly brought the terrace back to life.”

The Lower Terrace was designed by Prince Albert as a key part of his overall vision for the royal couple’s family home away from the hustle and bustle of court life. Dubbed ‘Albert the Creator’ by Victoria, her husband was very much at the forefront of creating their new residence, enlisting the help of his ‘Adviser in Art’ Ludwig Gruner to create the magnificent Italianate terracing as the crowning glory of their new house.

The Garden Terrace at Osborne will open to the public on Wednesday 28 June.

With thanks to the Friends of Osborne and an individual donor for their most generous support of this conservation project.

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