Queen Victoria's Beach
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent many enjoyable hours with their family on the beach at Osborne. Today you can enjoy their private and special place with your family. See where the royal children learned to swim, and enjoy the same magnificent views across the Solent.
"We drove down to the seashore and remained there for an hour playing with the children who were so happy." Queen Victoria's Journal, 5 March 1846
Today at the beach
Today there is plenty for families to enjoy at the beach. Bring a picnic and spend the day paddling, swimming, and relaxing with stunning views of the passing yachts in the Solent. Pop into the ice-cream parlour and taste the famous Isle of Wight Minghella ice-cream made from local dairies, or taste a tempting sorbet from a range of flavours.
Go inside Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine and sit in the alcove where she liked to sketch. Enjoy Victorian seaside fun with Punch and Judy shows on the beach on July weekends and every day throughout August. There are also games of quoits and skittles available to play. See more events at Osborne.
Discover beach wildlife and spot seabirds and herons feeding near the shore. You can read more about the ecology of the beach while you are there, and follow the nature trail through the woods up to Swiss Cottage. You may even spot a red squirrel.
A shuttle bus will whizz you to the beach in a few minutes (from the front of the house, from April to October, and on some winter weekends and holidays). Or you can take the scenic Valley Walk which takes around 20 minutes.
Queen Victoria at the beach
“… picking up shells is such a never ending joy to the children. How it pleases their young minds!" Queen Victoria’s Journal, 24 March 1851
Queen Victoria spent many enjoyable hours on the beach with her family and it was here that the royal children learned to swim. Prince Albert believed in the health-giving properties of sea bathing and encouraged the queen and his children to do so. He installed a bathing machine by the shore so that Victoria could enjoy the waters with her modesty intact.
The children used the beach as a much loved playground, spending long hours collecting shells or digging in the sand. A tent was pitched along the shore each year to give them shelter whilst they played.
The beach also had a more practical use: offering a convenient means of arriving at and departing from Osborne, as well as receiving visiting dignitaries.
Bathing machine and alcove
See the fully restored bathing machine used by Queen Victoria on the beach she so loved. It was used to preserve the queen's modesty – the whole contraption was run into the sea so that she could enter the waters without being seen in her swimming costume. Inside is a changing room and a plumbed in toilet. When she had finished her dip it was pulled back to the beach using a wire rope and winch.
Built after Albert's death, Queen Victoria's beautiful alcove provided a quiet seating area to which she often retired to sketch or write letters. The vibrant alcove - known as an exedra - is richly decorated with colourful blue and pink tiles and has wonderful Mediterranean-like views out to sea. Fully restored, it is still a perfect spot for quiet contemplation and relaxation.
"Drove to the beach with my maids and went in the bathing machine, where I undressed and bathed in the sea (for the 1st time in my life)… I thought it delightful till I put my head under water, when I thought I should be stifled." Queen Victoria's Journal, 30 July 1847