Celebrating Queen Victoria's 200th Birthday
Happy Birthday Queen Victoria
Today marks the 200th anniversary since the birth of Queen Victoria, born on 24th May 1819. One of the UK's most celebrated monarchs, Victoria was, at 18, to reign for more than 60 years and oversaw vast changes in the fortunes of the British state, from the peak years of the British Empire to the advances of the Industrial Revolution.
Born at Kensington Palace, Victoria's legacy lives on in estates across the UK, from Balmoral to Sandringham, Dunrobin to Syon Park. Here we take a look at Historic Houses member estates touched by her majesty.
The Scottish holiday home of the British Royal Family, the land upon which Balmoral was built was purchased for Queen Victoria by her husband, Prince Albert, in 1852, having first been leased in 1848.
The couple had been struck by the beauty of the Scottish Highlands since their first visit in the autumn of 1842. and the foundation stone for the castle was laid by Queen Victoria herself on 28th September 1853, which can be found at the foot of the wall adjacent to the West face of the entrance porch.
Before the foundation stone was placed in position Queen Victoria signed a parchment recording the date. This parchment, together with an example of each of the current coins of the realm, was then placed in a bottle, inserted into a cavity below the site prepared for the stone.
Find out more about Balmoral Castle here.
Balmoral is also holding a special Victoria 200 Exhibition to celebrate her anniversary. You can find out more information here.
Perhaps the most famous stately home in Norfolk, Sandringham House was acquired by Prince Albert in the spring of 1862, just after his 21 birthday. Although his principle residence was to be Marlborough House in London, Queen Victoria felt that Albert should have a place of his own to escape and enjoy the benefits of life in the countryside.
Find out more about Sandringham here.
Most of the improvements to the Castle were undertaken for the 2nd Duke and his Duchess, Harriet, who commissioned Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament, to make additions to the Castle in 1845 and to provide a Royal Suite for the visit of Queen Victoria, who described it as "a mixture of an old Scotch castle and a French chateau". The re-modelling of the estate from a fort to a house in the Scottish Baronial style, that had become popular with the aristocracy, was also inspired by Victoria's new residence at Balmoral.
Find out more about Dunrobin Castle here.
State bedrooms were provided for Princess Victoria and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, at Syon House in Middlesex. It was there that the 3rd Duchess, Charlotte Florentia, was given the coveted role of being Princess Victoria's official governess, and preparing the Princess for her future role as Queen.
Find out more about Syon House here.
At the heart of Pitchford Estate is the beautiful Pitchford Hall, described as Britain's finest half-timbered house, and which once played host to Queen Victoria, who visited Pitchford as a 13-year-old princess and climbed up into the famous Pitchford tree house. The treehouse is arguably the oldest in the world, and was first mentioned in 1692.
Find out more about Pitchford Hall here.
The garden at Drummond Castle was simplified after the Second World War. A start was made to clear some of the ground, respecting significant features. Amongst these were the ancient yew hedges at either end of the terracing and paths, magnificent individual yews and the two copper beech trees planted by Queen Victoria to commemorate her visit.
Find out more about Drummond Castle here.
Fancy visiting a Victorian-style country estate? Click here to see our filtered list of member houses across the UK that retain architectural and other themes inherited from the Victorian age.