Building Blocks Series 9: Osborne House

15 Jul


The next building in our Building Blocks series may evoke childhood memories of sunshine, sandy beaches and ice cream. Where is it you may wonder? Sitting on the most southerly point of the UK is a wonderful part of our heritage in the form of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.


Source Wikimedia Commons

Source Wikimedia Commons


In case you know little about this magnificent building, here is some background information.

Osborne House, although it is more like a small palace, was built in 1845-1851 for Queen Victoria and was actually designed in part by Prince Albert. The royal couple used the house, set in its idyllic location, as a summer retreat to escape the stresses of their position and enjoy time with their many children. On Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, Osborne House was given to the nation and is today managed by English Heritage. It is an interesting place to visit with beautiful grounds, where you may be lucky and see a red squirrel. Recently the private beach was made accessible as well.

So there you have a very concise history of Osborne House but what about the windows?

As a Listed Building you will not find any replacement double glazing. However to maintain such a historic and important building is a huge task and together with the exterior of the whole house, the windows underwent a complete restoration.

We are lucky to have a firsthand account of how the windows were renovated from one of the carpenters involved in the restoration.

The windows are predominantly boxed sashes with Georgian bars of Brazilian mahogany which were originally made in Scotland. When the windows were examined they were found to be in remarkably good repair considering their age and the corrosive nature of the surrounding sea air.

The main areas of concern were broken panes and rotted Georgian bars and beads. To undertake the repairs was a mammoth task. Before the repairs could be started, the bars and beads were copied and new ones meticulously carved from the same high quality Brazilian mahogany. A high number of sash cords were found to be broken and replacements had to be sourced. As each sash was removed, it was numbered and identified to ensure it went back in the same place!

It was more problematic to fix the broken panes of glass as that type of glass is no longer manufactured. An ingenious way of overcoming this problem was to use thin greenhouse glass.

This attention to detail and care for our historic buildings has ensured that Osborne House will survive to be enjoyed by many generations to come.


Source Wikimedia Commons

Source Wikimedia Commons


If you have visited Osborne House let us know what you thought of the windows.

If you want to check what type of windows fall under Building Regulations there is more information here


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