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I was quite prepared to dislike Osborne House. From photographs and television footage, it seemed like an Italian fantasy by an amateur architect, plonked down in the British countryside.

On a baking hot day, with the grass looking very parched, it all seemed to make sense, at least from the terrace side.

Indoors was another matter though; that's just odd, but they won't let you photograph it.

For opening times, admission prices, etc. please see English Heritage's official site detailed below.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the Osborne estate in 1845 for £28,000 to be a summer home and rural retreat. However, they felt that the substantial three story Osborne House of 1774 was a bit on the small side, and between 1845 and 1851 replaced it with one in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. This was from drawings supplied by Thomas Cubitt, the London architect and builder, to what might be termed a tight design brief from Prince Albert.

After Queen Victoria's death in January 1901, the house became surplus to requirements and was given to the state. From 1903 to 1921 it was used as a junior officer training college for the Royal Navy.

During World War I, the secondary wings of Osborne House were used as an officers' convalescent home known as the King Edward VII Retirement Home for Officers. This was transformed into a nursing home in the 1980s, and finally closed in 2000.

Although some of the apartments were opened to the public when it came into state ownership, Queen Victoria's private rooms were kept sealed on the orders of King Edward VII. It was not until 1954 that the current Queen gave permission for them to be opened to the public.