Queen Victoria's Britain
Places to see in the UK associated with Queen Victoria
There has been a surge of interest in the life and times of Queen Victoria in recent years - due in no small part to several popular films, such as 'Mrs Brown', and 'The Young Victoria'.
Here's a look at several places around the UK either directly associated with Queen Victoria, or that have featured in films about her life. Several of the most popular and well-known attractions are clustered in London, as you might expect, but there are quite a few scattered throughout the UK. Let's start with the London locations first.
Locations in London
First up, there's Kensington Palace, where Princess Alexandrina Victoria was born on 24 May 1819 (yes, that's right, the young princess first name was not Victoria, and indeed, she was known in her family as 'Drina', from her true first name 'Alexandrina'. She was christened by the archbishop of Canterbury in the Cupola Room at the palace, and the young Victoria spent much of her childhood at the palace, located at the western extremity of Kensington Gardens.
Then, of course, there's Buckingham Palace, with the huge gilt statue of Victoria punctuating The Mall in front of the Palace gates. When Victoria moved into the palace it was only partially complete, and she complained that it was drafty, the doors didn't shut properly and drains smelled bad. Things have improved since then!
We can't omit Westminster Abbey, where Victoria was crowned in 1830. Though it is often overwhelmed with visitors, it is still an extraordinary piece of historic architecture, and well worth viewing.
St James Palace
Victoria married Prince Albert at the Chapel Royal of St James Palace in 1840 (this is not the Queen's Chapel that you can see on Marlborough Road). The Chapel Royal was decorated by Hans Holbein for Henry VIII's marriage to Anne of Cleves in 1540. The chapel royal is not regularly open to visitors, but the public can attend Sunday services at the chapel - usually through the winter months.
If St James Palace marks the beginning of the happiest period of her life - her marriage to Albert - the Albert Memorial in Regent's park marks the saddest event of her life. A gilded statue of Albert sits beneath an ornate dome, commemorating Victoria's grief at the untimely death of her husband.
Locations outside London
Let's turn to happier events further afield from London; in 1848 Victoria and Albert purchased Balmoral Castle, on the southern fringe of the Cairngorms, as a country retreat. The scenery is glorious, with the River Dee running swiftly by within the castle grounds. The castle is still owned by the royal family, but is open to visitors when the royals are not in residence.
Further up the Dee, past Braemar, is the popular beauty of spot called Linn O' Dee, where Victoria enjoyed picnicking by the river.
We can't omit Windsor Castle from this list; the state apartments at Windsor are much as Victoria would have remembered them, despite the devastating effects of a fire a few decades ago. Then there is the Albert Memorial Chapel, the original home of the Knights of the Garter. The chapel was rebuilt by Victoria in memory of Prince Albert. Within the castle grounds is the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum, where both Victoria and Albert are buried.
The place perhaps most closely associated with Victoria is Osborne House, at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. Osborne House is a rather extraordinary piece of Italianate architecture in a very English setting. It was at Osborne House that Victoria died in 1901. The house tours are quite wonderful and extremely entertaining.
We've mentioned many of the most well known places associated with Victoria, but there are also locations that were featured in the films about her life. For example, among the locations featured in The Young Victoria are:
The Young Victoria Film Locations
- Ham House - a lovely London house beside the Thames, Ham House is used to represent Kensington Palace in several scenes.
- Lincoln Cathedral - a glorious medieval cathedral in the heart of the historic city of Lincoln, across from the castle built by William the Conqueror. The cathedral doubled for Westminster Abbey in the film
- Blenheim Palace - just north of Oxford stands this glorious Baroque palace, a gift to John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, from Queen Anne.
- Belvoir Castle - a wonderful Gothic Revival house built for the 5th Duke of Rutland on a rocky outcrop high over the market town of Grantham, Lincolnshire.
- Ditchley - a wonderful stately home near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, built by James Gibbs for the Earl of Litchfield. Not normally open to visitors. Ditchley website
- Lancaster House - The London home of the Duke of York and Albany, built by Benjamin Wyatt in grand Georgian style. Used for government conferences and other functions, and thus not normally open to visitors. Lancaster House served as the ballroom, passage and reception room of Buckingham Palace in the film.
- Arundel Castle - One of the great stately homes of England, Arundel Castle is a Victorian mansion in the style of a medieval castle. In this case, however, there really is a medieval castle contained within the fortified walls. Arundel Castle was used as a double for Windsor Castle in the film.