Osborne House, Ghosts of the Isle of Wight, with Margo Williams.

Some Cowes residents and members of staff at Osborne House believe the ghost responsible for mysteriously moving things is Eustace Mann, a mean-spirited prankster searching for his lost treasure map.
Photo image of Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Osborne House, Isle of Wight

The Ghost of the Royal Apartments

Osborne House, beloved home of Queen Victoria is one of Britain’s greatest treasure houses. The British Empire since Her Majesty’s golden years may have shrunk but many of its finest mementoes can still be found within these walls.

Nowhere else in the world is royal Victoriana so well-preserved as here.

Some members of staff aren't sure the displacement-prankster ghost is old Eustace Mann, for they report sightings of a ghostly well-dressed female in the royal apartments, wafting down to a bathing machine parked near the beach.

And so assume it is the ghost of Victoria venting her irritation at the public intrusion into her dream home haunting-ever-after.

Most Haunted island

Austerbourne House

Formerly Austerburne, (East Bourne, or the Eastern Brook) home for many years to the Bowermans, an ancient Island family, it passed in the reign of King Henry VIII into the possession of John Arney, by his marriage with their heiress.

In the reign of Edward VI the estate was purchased by John Lovibond, whose family kept it until the reign of King Charles I when the estate was bought by Eustace Mann,

Mann's grand-daughter and sole heiress married Mr. Blanchford and it was their son who built new Osborne House, then the largest and best house on the Island, though described by some as a plain but commodious mansion of stone. In 1840, heiress Lady Isabella Blanchford sold it to Queen Victoria.

Image of old Osborne House, West Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Old Osborne House, West Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Lost Buried Treasure

Eustace Mann according to legend buried a large sum of money somewhere in the grounds during the troubles of the Civil War. In an adjacent woodland known as Money Coppice.

Sadly Mann lost the map and when war ended spent months and years hacking back briars and undergrowth. Day after day ever more uncertain where he buried his treasure.

He never did find it and after the Restoration of the monarchy he obtained a grant from Charles II of all '...waifs, strays, wrecks and treasure trove, and the privilege of free warren,' which he hoped would give him the right to claim the gold if ever it was found by someone else.

To this day the treasure remains undiscovered, though some East Cowes detectorists suspect it may have been unearthed when Victoria and Albert purchased the property and changed everything. So upsetting the old man's ghost he vowed vengeance by way of mischief-making in her new home.

Exploring the haunted Isle of Wight

Victoria and Albert

18-years-old Victoria became Queen of England at 2.20am 20th June 1837 following the death of King William IV. Two years later she informed her ministers of her intention to marry Albert. Second son of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg Gotha Albert was the same age as Victoria.

image of royal couple Victoria and Albert
Albert and Victoria

General Grey described the Prince as '...Tall and manly and eminently handsome. But there was also in his countenance a gentleness of expression and peculiar sweetness in his smile, with a look of deep thought and high intelligence in his clear blue eye.' Others described him as talented and fun.

Victoria wrote:

"Albert has completely won my heart...I feel certain he will make me very happy. I wish I could say I felt as certain of my making him happy, but I shall do my best."

Next day Albert wrote:

"Victoria is so good and kind to me that I am often puzzled to believe that I should be the object of so much affection."

The royal couple looked for a home for their expanding family. Windsor Castle had no private gardens; Buckingham Palace offered garden but only attic-space for the children. Brighton's Royal Pavilion was too public. Victoria suggested a house on the Isle of Wight; not too far from London and an island where they could walk and not be followed or mobbed.

Albert visited Cowes; it reminded him of the Italian coastline. Yes.

Marine Residence Facts and Figures

Her Majesty's Marine Residence, the Isle of Wight palace of Queen Victoria and husband the Prince Consort Albert is in the Palladian style of architecture approached from the lawn by an ascent of several terraces.

The Flag-Tower is 107 feet in height (32 metres), the Clock Tower, or Campanile, 90 (27 metres). The western wing or pavilion, with its semi-circular projection, contains the royal apartments.

Cubitt's building was built upon designs of Prince Albert in the Italian style, of a rusticated basement with two stories above. The Angles have moulded quoins and the whole is surmounted by a cornice and a balustraded parapet, carefully wrought.

The Royal Apartments are elegantly decorated, adorned with fine specimens of the Great Masters. Gibson, Thorneycroft, Weeks, and Calder Marshall contributed exquisite sculptures. The fountains and flower-stands were from the designs of Gruner.

Photo image of Osborne House, royal apartments. Isle of Wight
Osborne House, royal apartments. Isle of Wight

Death of Albert the Good

14th December 1861, Albert fell ill and died in Windsor Castle. Distraught with grief, Victoria retired from public life and chose seclusion at Osborne House. For the next forty years until her own death in 1901 she refused to make any major changes to her dream home.

Prince Albert's portrait remains by her bed, his desk still stands next to hers in the sitting room. In fact Osborne House offers the visitor an experience of Victoriana frozen in time as to be found nowhere else in the world. Edward VII preserved the house as a monument to his mother.

And so it is, Victorian Empire in all its glory.

Staff working in the house sometimes report strange occurrences, mostly things gone missing from where they last were put. Mischief attributed to the frustrated spirit of old Eustace Mann still searching for his lost gold.

Some have seen a misted female figure wafting from the royal apartments down to the bathing machine in the garden near the beach. And believe the ghost appears in this photograph.

Photo image of Queen Victoria in her carriage, Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Queen Victoria in her carriage, Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Thank you for your company on this short tour of Isle of Wight mysteries and haunting. If you would like to know more about Margo Williams' investigations at Osborne House and other rogues and royals, read this book. Now available from Amazon.

Useful Links

Osborne House

Queen Victoria

Prince Albert