A family day out on the Isle of Wight
Thursday, August 26th, 2010
Sadly not the best of weather, but a very enjoyable day exploring Osborne House, the family home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Carisbrooke Castle and the lovely town of Ryde.
Approaching Cowes in very gloomy weather.
As we come into dock, we pass this lovely old ship, the Queen Galadriel. She is a Baltic Trader built in Svenborg, Denmark in 1937. Now run by the Cirdan Sailing Trust, an organisation that specialises in enabling groups of young people, particularly those who are socially, physically or mentally disadvantaged, to experience the challenge and adventure of life at sea on large sailing vessels.
First to Osborne House, just outside Cowes and built for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the mid nineteenth century.
As we enter the visitor’s entrance, a coach that takes tourists for a ride around the grounds waits in the Carriage Ring.
Looking towards the Clock Tower from the Drawing Room. Photography is not allowed in the house, so I can’t show images from the beautiful rooms. You’ll just have visit yourself – it’s well worth it!
Back outside we wander the lovely gardens. Looking up at the Pavillion part of the house where the family’s apartments are. Here the windows of Victoria and Albert’s rooms and the nursery above.
I have no idea what this climbing plant is, but it certainly brightened the garden on such a dull day.
A perfect Arum Lily…
…a bright Gladioli…
…and another plant I’m not familiar with, but seems to have a bouquet on every flower head!
A bench dedicated to Queen Victoria’s Highland servant John Brown who was also her good friend despite disapproval by those around her. The inscription is a quotation from Lord Byron – "A truer nobler trustier heart, more loving and more loyal, never beat within a human breast".
We walk down to the Swiss Cottage in the grounds and get a very fine view of the whole house behind us.
The Swiss Cottage was built for Queen Victoria’s children so that they could learn about housekeeping, gardening and create their own natural history collection. This collection is now housed in a separate building next to the cottage and is absolutely fascinating.
In the summerhouse the gardening implements were kept, even wheelbarrows – one named for each of the princes and princesses. These are replicas, but still tell a very sweet story.
Osborne is a lovely house with many fascinating rooms and objects, but the all pervading sense that I got from the house was the intense feeling of a real family home.
On to Carisbrooke Castle close to Newport in the centre of the island.
The imposing gatehouse to the castle.
An arrowslit window that allowed archers to fire upon invaders while enjoying protection from return fire.
A walk up to the Keep is steep, but well worth it. The Keep well was essential to provide a source of fresh water if the castle was under siege. In 1136 a well failed and led to the surrender of the castle. It is believed to be this well which is now dry.
The top of the Keep wall provides wonderful views on a good day. On a day such as this there is not much to see of views, but it is also a very good vantage point for seeing the castle as a whole. Here the main living areas of the castle, including the Great Hall.
The coach house and the area where the donkeys are kept. Carisbrooke is famous for the donkeys that drive the wheel that brings water up from the well in the courtyard. Sadly we were too late to see them in action, but visited them in their home below us. They are beautifully kept and very happy in their work.
The Well House itself. I remember seeing the donkeys doing their thing many years ago. They walk happily in of their own accord and tread in the huge wooden wheel to draw the buckets of water up. Water has been drawn this way since the twelfth century, although it may well have been originally worked by prisoners.
The two cannon on the edge of the bowling green that was created for Charles I who was imprisoned in the castle before his execution. I couldn’t help but notice that the cannon seem now to be trained on the cemetary on the opposite hill!.
The one and only entrance to the Keep.
A beautiful stained glass window in the Chapel of St Nicholas.
The glorious chapel ceiling.
Off to the lovely port of Ryde on the north east coast of the island for a walk along the sea front and then dinner before catching the ferry home.
The hovercraft that ferries passengers between Ryde to Southsea.
A very misty view of the Spinnaker Tower on Gunwharf Quay in Portsmouth.
No Man’s Land Fort, one of Palmerston’s Forts in the Solent.
A lovely day had by all, despite the very British summer weather!
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