When I look back at the time before the Pandemic, I realise that both Bill and I took our travelling and visiting very much for granted. I do not mean our overseas travel, which has been marvellous, but just moving about the UK at will. Next weekend we will be travelling from Fairford up to Newton-le-Willows, near Warrington, for our traditional family party – that is my siblings, partners and children. Of course, this has not been possible for almost two years! That is what makes my following story seem incredible.
During the summer of 2019, Bill and I treated ourselves to a trip to the Isle of Wight, just for the day! It happened because of cricket… For the first time in 60 years Newclose Cricket Ground, Newport (IOW), was hosting first class cricket and it was to be between Hampshire and Nottinghamshire. Bill had been considering making the trip for weeks, but I frankly did not think I could escape from my desk for a few days. In the end, the weather forecast was so good we decided to go for the day!
We thoroughly enjoyed the ferry crossing, then I dropped Bill at the ground and went off to Osbourne House for the day. I had wanted to visit the house, particularly after watching Victoria and Abdul at the cinema. I wanted to see the Durbar Room which, in the film, was created to honour Abdul. It is possible that Queen Victoria’s title Empress of India had more to do with it!
Osbourne was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home and rural retreat. Prince Albert designed the house himself in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo.
I had a lovely quiet day wandering through this marvellous house and could imagine it as a perfect family home for The Victorian Family. The gardens, the rooms and the extended grounds were simply beautifully maintained, and it was obvious that all the team who cared for the place on behalf of English Heritage loved the house and its history.