Queen Victoria, self builder: Prince Albert, carpenter.

james armstrong james36armstrong at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 26 17:16:47 BST 2009

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert,   self builders, bargain house-hunters but neither  right to roamers  nor environmentalists.
  From ‘Queen  Victoria,  Her life and Times’ by Cecil WoodhamSmith.
‘ Sir Robert Peel had heard that Lady Blatchford wished to sell Osborne House with an estate of about 1,000 acres, and on 1st November, 1843  Prince Albert wrote a detailed letter to  Sir Robert about the sea view, the water supply and the possible existence of a public footpath or right of way through the grounds which would be fatal to privacy, the position of the farms and woods, and asking for a coloured Ordnance Survey map  ‘to show what does belong to the  property.’ The queen and Prince Albert then  offered a price of 26,000 sterling  without furniture or crops, which was accepted…..
The  queen’s original purchase at Osborne had been Osborne House with an estate of about 1,000 acres , but the original house proved to be too small and the Queen laid the foundation stone of  the new building on 23rd June 1845, during the first summer spent at Osborne.
The new Osborne House was designed by Prince Albert himself , with the assistance of Thomas Cubitt, who prepared the  drawings and executed the work using new techniques, for instance cast iron girders instead of wooden beams. Prince Albert designed the mansion in the style of an Italian villa ‘rather coarsely detailed in Cubitt’s London stucco’ but made effectively picturesque by asymmetrical grouping ‘
In the grounds of Osborne the royal children were given an elaborate playground.   The Swiss cottage standing about half a mile from the mansion , was brought in sections from Switzerland  and presented to them for the boys to learn carpentry and cultivation of the soil and for the girls to learn  cookery and housekeeping. The queen and Prince Albert were invited here by their children to tea.………………………………
The expedition (to the west coast ) was not a success. The idea of settling in the west  of Scotland was given up.
In 1847 Sir Robert Gordon, tenant of Balmoral, unexpectedly died and the Queen and the Prince bought a lease of the house.  ‘Balmoral was a complete mountain solitude, where one only rarely sees a human face ..and the wild deer come creeping round the house.’wrote the Prince……………..
The Prince’s idea of sport was not thought well of in England, where the ‘battue’ `the great  pile of slaughtered game, popular on the Continent, was not practiced.    The slaughter of three hundred of roe deer in a single drive, was condemned by Greville as a ‘massacre’ and he was shocked that the Queen watched. ‘
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