10 curiosities to mark Queen Victoria’s 200th anniversary

During her remarkable reign Victoria travelled widely, but there are a few unusual places and ways to celebrate all things Victorian and mark the 200thanniversary of her birth in 2019, so take a quirky journey back through time…

  1. Royal flush. Check out Victoria sitting on the ‘throne’… literally. Head to Hull’s Queen Victoria Square and you’ll find her regal statue sits above the public toilets. How convenient.
  2. Rose tinted view. Also in Hull, at the city’s Royal Hotel – renamed after she visited in 1854 – the bedroom where she stayed and waved to the crowds below still has two remaining rose-tinted windows especially ordered for her visit.
  3. Victorian flight of fancy. How about the world’s biggest Steampunk Festival? For those who don’t know, it’s a madcap celebration of curious Victorian fantasy. Each August costumed fans of the Victorian science fiction phenomenon gather in historic Lincoln in their top hats, flying goggles and curious contraptions.
  4. Royal autograph hunter.Lincolnshire’s Alfred Lord Tennyson was the Victorian era’s most popular poet – with even Prince Albert asking for an autograph, while on Albert’s death, Victoria, who also greatly admired his work, took comfort from Tennyson’s poetry. Albert’s autograph request can be seen at Lincolnshire’s Tennyson Research Centre, the world’s most significant collection on the poet, along with a letter Victoria wrote to Tennyson on the death of his son.
  5. 5. The King and I. Victoria used Osborne House, her palatial holiday home on the Isle of Wight, for over 50 years, often entertaining foreign royalty and visiting ministers, including the King of Siam who lunched there in 1897. The King’s father is best remembered today as the king in the famous film “The King and I”.
  6. A bedtime story.Until she became Queen, Victoria had to share a bedroom with her mother, and at England’s greatest Elizabethan house, Burghley, where Victoria stayed twice, there’s an odd sight of a small bed in a Drawing Room. It’s where Victoria slept when she visited as Princess in 1835, but on her return as Queen, with Albert, in 1844, she slept in a carved gilt wood state bed. Among souvenirs of that three-day visit is a rather strange Christening gift – a pair of Victoria’s gloves, given as a memento of the royal couple’s attendance.
  7. Birthday bliss.Victoria’s birthday, on 24th May, was almost always celebrated at Osborne from 1848, up until Albert’s death in 1861. Very much a family affair, there were, of course, lots of amazing gifts. Many of these are still housed within the Royal Collection at Osborne, and will be the focus of a new trail and display in 2019.
  8. Regal set jetting. ITV’s popular Victoria TV series filmed scenes for the first two seasons in Beverley, East Yorkshire. The magnificent Minster became Westminster Abbey where Gemma Coleman, as Victoria, was crowned Queen, and also for a christening scene. Film crews were back in the area in 2018, this time in Hull, to recreate Victorian England for season three, airing early 2019. Over on the Isle of Wight, for the first time Osborne House’s interiors were seen in a feature film in Victoria and Abdul (2017), with Dame Judy Dench playing the Queen once more. While Young Victoria (2009), starring Emily Blunt, saw coronation scenes filmed at Lincoln Cathedral (as Westminster Abbey) and Belvoir Castle, part of Hidden England, which stood in for Buckingham Palace and Windsor Great Park.
  9. 9. Palatial privacy. The royal couple valued their privacy and at Osborne House the door of their bedroom is fitted with a special locking device that can be operated from the bed, meaning Victoria, or Albert, could lock or unlock the door easily and quickly without even having to get out of bed.
  10. In the swim. Victoria swam in the sea for the first time in Osborne Bay, and even had a bathing machine installed on the beach complete with a changing room and plumbed-in lavatory. Albert also designed a floating bath in which his children were taught to swim, which was moored a few hundred metres offshore. While the bath is long gone, today you can see the fully restored bathing machine and sit in the alcove where the Queen liked to sketch.