Latest Newsletters

September 13th 2021

Dear Members

It seems such a long time since I updated you with any significant changes to our agreement with English Heritage at Osborne but aside from the various relaxations that we are all now adopting in everyday life, there is nothing new to report – yet!

However, the Trustees have been keeping in touch with Osborne management and we now have a meeting with them on the 17th of this month when we will be discussing a range of issues including a return date to our rooms and the availability of other rooms for future events.

English Heritage are in the process of negotiating with the current provider to take the catering ‘in house’ and while these talks continue, we have looked for an alternative venue to have a dinner. With its obvious Osborne connection, we have earmarked the Albert Cottage Hotel with a provisional quote of £40-£50 per head and a mid-October date. Unfortunately, our patron, Dame Judi Dench, is unavailable to attend as she has a full work diary until next year. 

Consequently, we thought we would make it a ‘welcome back’ event and the dress code would be smart casual (rather than black-tie).  It will be helpful if members could register an expression of interest in attending so that we can see if there is enough interest to commit to a date and pay a deposit.  If you are interested, please contact our secretary on  If you do not receive a reply then please try again as the signal can be a problem.

The committee is about to start planning events and are open to hearing your ideas and suggestions as to what you would like to see in a programme of activities in the year ahead. 

Finally, we are always looking for volunteers who may wish to join the events committee or consider becoming a trustee.  Further details for anyone interested, can be provided by the secretary on the email address above.

Rob Flower
Chair of Trustees

Secretary: email Please note new phone number: 07785924323

May 18th 2021 – Newsletter

Dear Members

I am delighted to inform you that our Secretary and Treasurer met with English Heritage management at Osborne recently and successfully negotiated an interim increase in our monthly allocation – up from 100 to 150 member visits with a promise to review again in a couple of months with a view to a further increase.

Obviously, this will depend on the ongoing lifting of restrictions in the Government’s road map but hopefully the improving situation generally reported, will continue to take us towards something close to pre-covid ‘normal’

A gentle reminder though to continue to use the previously circulated phone number to book and not to ‘over book’ slots so as to allow as many members as possible to take up visits.

Our rooms at Osborne are not currently available owing to current and planned building work in that area but we hope to be able to get back into them soon for coffee mornings and meetings.

We are also beginning to look at future events, both as fund-raisers and hopefully a general social get-together in the summer on the Lower Terrace…watch this space!

In the meantime, if anyone has any queries, please contact the Secretary on email address below

Rob Flower
Chair of Trustees

Secretary: email Please note new phone number: 07785924323

21 April 2021 – Message from the Chair of Trustees

Dear Members

English Heritage has brought to our attention that some of our members are not using the agreed booking process (the previously circulated phone number) and are trying to book tickets via the EH website as an Associated Organisation.  Can I remind everyone that this is not permissible and that we must adhere to the current arrangement.

This has apparently occurred on a number of occasions recently when our allocation had been reached and members are trying to find a way around the system we have in place.

We have also been told that some members turn up, knowing that our allocation has already been used, and then suggest that they are unaware of the booking system and are still trying to use their cards as we did pre-Covid.  Again, this is causing consternation for EH staff and members and will only result in being turned away.

We are in the process of finding a date to sit down with management at Osborne, when we will discuss all of the current arrangements and how a lifting of various restrictions recently and in the near future, will beneficially impact upon our members.  We will update you all once we have news on this.

In the meantime, please stick with the current booking system, don’t turn up claiming no knowledge of what has been agreed (if anyone remains in doubt, please contact the Secretary on email address below) and don’t forget that standard admission charges or EH membership remain options for us all!

Rob Flower
Chair of Trustees

2 April 2021 – April Newsletter

Dear Members

I hope the onset of Spring finds you all well and looking forward to the end of various restrictions.

You may have seen in the County Press and on line the exciting news that the weather vane, which we have contributed to the repair of, has been reinstalled atop the clock tower. Pictures are available on our Facebook page and Osborne management have circulated a press release acknowledging our contribution.

The Friends committee are now looking to put together an events programme and I know they would welcome any ideas you may have. These can be sent to our Secretary, details of which are at the bottom of this letter.

The Trustees also hope to be able to add to the events programme with our usual Gala Dinner with our patron Dame Judi Dench, subject to her availability.  We are meeting with English Heritage in the next couple of weeks to find out what their opening regime will be and also to get dates in the diary for events and hopefully our AGM.

On behalf of the Trustees, I wish you all a Happy and Peaceful Easter.

Secretary: email
Please note new phone number: 07785924323

21st January 2021 – Newsletter

Friends Booking System

A reminder to members to use the telephone booking system and not the online booking system please.  The site is currently only open and manned on Saturday and Sunday from 10.00 until 16.00 so calls outside of these times will not be answered.  If possible, try and book a week ahead (weather forecast permitting!)

From half-term, ordinarily February 15th, it is expected that Osborne will revert to opening Wednesday to Sunday 10.00 – 16.00 until the end of March.  Changes to or lifting of current Covid restrictions may impact upon these dates and upon the operations at Osborne so do regularly check their website for any updates.

If I can remind members to be considerate and not over-book so that all members have a reasonable chance of making a visit.  Osborne management have alerted us that there are a handful of names that book four places each and every week – consequently we are using up our allocation by week three each month.  While the support and enthusiasm to enjoy Osborne is welcomed, it is hoped that more of our members will have the chance to visit if those very frequent visitors tempered their enthusiasm a little more please and reduce the number of their bookings.

Weather Vane

As expected, the plan to install the weather vane in February has been delayed and we are now informed that this may now take place in March but with fewer spectators able to attend.  We will have to wait and see how Covid impacts upon this and the many other projects that we hope to support at Osborne this coming year.

Christmas Tree

I hope you were able to enjoy the Christmas trees at St Mildred’s last month.  The Friends of Osborne displayed a delightful tree in the church which displayed the names of Victoria and Albert’s nine children – many thanks to the very creative members responsible this year. 

Please contact our Secretary, via this email address only, should you have any concerns or queries about any of the issues above.

Best wishes

Rob Flower

Chair of Friends of Osborne Trustees.

18 January 2021

This note has been received from Dame Judi Dench.

“I was very sad indeed to hear about Tim. Since being associated with the Friends of Osborne, he was always so welcoming and we enjoyed our time spent with him.”

David Mills & Judi Dench

14 January 2021


I am sad to announce the death of Tim King who was the first Chair of the Friends of Osborne when we became a charity in 2015.

After a long and distinguished career in the judiciary, Tim took on the role of shaping and guiding the ‘new’ Friends, and together with trustees past and present, created our Governance document and ensured our compliance with the statutory conditions and enrolment with the Charity Commission. 

Tim’s memorable achievement in his role as Chair, was his successful and personal approach to Dame Judi Dench, who was of course, delighted to become our patron and enjoyed Tim’s warmth, humour and hospitality during her subsequent visits to Osborne.

Suffering from ill-health for a number of years, Tim stood down in 2019 and handed the reigns over to me – giving sound advice, support and friendship along the way.  I shall personally miss his twinkling humour, court room anecdotes and after-dinner story telling. 

Tim died on Tuesday this week and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jane, and all his family and friends.

Rob Flower
Chair of Friends of Osborne Trustees.

6 January 2021

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 4 January, English Heritage have taken the decision to keep a small selection of their sites open for local people to use for exercise during the lockdown.  The grounds of Osborne will be open during the lockdown period at weekends until the February half-term.  As before, all visits must be booked in advance, with Friends of Osborne members using the telephone booking system set up for this purpose.  Please stay local and bear in mind the government’s latest advice.


Meeting with Osborne Management

The Secretary and myself met with Osborne management recently and discussed a number of issues – listed below: –  

Friends Booking System

This appears to be running smoothly from month to month with about the right number of bookings to fill our allocated 100 places.  If I can remind members to be considerate and not over-book so that all members have a reasonable chance of making a visit.  Osborne are keeping a list of member names to allow us to continue to monitor this.

Please remember that the site is closed Monday and Tuesday so try to book Wednesday visits the week before if possible.  After Christmas, Osborne will only be open at weekends until the February half-term.

Weather Vane

Members may recall that we committed to making a contribution to the restoration of the weather vane that sits on the top of the clock tower.  I am pleased to say that the work has now been completed and it is back at Osborne ready for installation (via a huge crane!) in early February.  The Project Manager has offered to provide and insight into the work that was required and hopefully we can create a photo opportunity with the County Press, highlighting the contribution of the Friends. 

Fence Repairs

Members may be aware of historic metal fencing to be seen on the walk down to the beach in the valley.  Urgent repairs are required and I am pleased that local iron mongers at The Forge in Whippingham have been contracted to undertake the work in the new year and the Friends will be making a contribution to the overall cost.  Again, I will be asking that Osborne management credit our contribution when this work is completed.


As many of us know, considering that Osborne is a 250-acre estate, there are too few benches for a much-needed rest!  Consequently, we will make a small annual contribution to provide more benches around the estate – each will carry a small plaque indicating that the Friends have gifted these to Osborne.

Eating at Osborne

Although the café in the Petty Officers Quarters is closed, the Orangery (adjacent to the Terrace Restaurant) is open for take-aways and the restaurant is available for pre-booked table service for on-site guests only.  The Beach Café is also open for a limited take-away offer.  After Christmas, the restaurant will be serving weekend roasts – again pre-booked table service only.

Toby’s Trees & Wreaths

Osborne has a seasonal wreath trail and Toby (Head Gardener) has Toby’s Tall Trees Trail as an added attraction over the next couple of weeks.

Platinum Jubilee

There is currently a national tree planting scheme being proposed to celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.  We have indicated that we would like to fund a tree-planting at Osborne – very much in keeping with the tradition that Prince Albert and Queen Victoria began back in the 1850’s.  We’ll keep you up to date with this as the date approaches.

Further Meetings

As we all know the Covid restrictions can be changeable depending upon the tiering and hopefully the imminent roll out of the vaccine! Consequently, we will meet again with Osborne management in late January to review the status quo and then let you all know of any changes impacting upon our visits.

Remembrance Service

Despite the lock-down restrictions in November, we were still able to make a small and socially distanced service outdoors at St Mildred’s in Whippingham to mark the day and lay the wreath on behalf of the Friends.

Christmas Trees

There is also Friends Christmas tree to be seen at St Mildred’s.  See Poster below for details!

Please contact our Secretary, via this email address only, should you have any concerns or queries about any of the issues above.

Seasonal Best wishes to you all and hopefully a healthier New Year! 

Rob Flower

Chair of Friends of Osborne Trustees.


Lockdown Update

You will all be aware of the latest lockdown restrictions that have come into effect this week and are in place until December 2nd (we hope no longer !?)

Remembrance Service

Obviously, this will mean the cancellation of the Remembrance Service planned for November 8th.  There will however, be a private laying of the Friends wreath by arrangement with the Vicar of St. Mildred’s.  All of those who had already paid, should by now, have had an email from the Secretary about how to get a refund directly into their banks – please contact the Secretary on the email below if there are any delays. 

Osborne Visits

English Heritage has confirmed that the grounds and gardens will remain open throughout this second lockdown with all interior spaces closed.  Consequently, you may continue to use the TELEPHONE booking system and note the winter opening hours of Wednesday – Sunday.  Please visit the English Heritage website for further details.

Meeting with Osborne Management

We have had to postpone a planned meeting with Osborne Management when we had hoped to review the new booking procedures and also discuss the details of our next donations and what the monies would be used for.  We will now meet in mid-December, all being well.

Annual General Meeting

We are hoping to hold our AGM, probably in May and subject to venue availability and a lifting of restrictions to permit a large gathering of members.  Further updates on this will be given in due course, subject to the various changing scenarios.

Finally, a welcome to a number of new members who have joined us recently, we do hope that the full range of benefits will become available sooner rather than later!  And alas, we wish to mark the passing of another long-standing member, Sheila Swan, who kindly left a number of Victorian related books to the Friend’s library at Osborne. 

Please contact our Secretary, via this email address only, should you have any concerns or queries about any of the issues above.

Best wishes
Rob Flower
Chair of Friends of Osborne Trustees. 

6 November 2020


English Heritage has, this afternoon, announced it’s intention to keep some of it’s sites open during the current lockdown.  Consequently, the grounds and gardens of Osborne will remain open to local visitors within government guidelines on Wednesday to Sundays 10am to 4pm.  All interior spaces will be closed until 3 December which includes the House, the Gift Shop, Petty Officer’s Quarters and the Orangery.  Visitors are asked to bear in mind the government’s latest advice on essential journeys before planning their visit.  All visits must be booked in advance.

5 October 2020


Members have today been emailed the instructions for booking visits to Osborne which are applicable from today, Monday 5 October 2020.  Also included in the email were details of the arrangements for this year’s Remembrance Service to be held at St Mildred’s Church on Sunday 8 November.
Any member who has not received the email is advised to contact our Secretary on



I am delighted to announce that we have been successful in negotiating the return of access to the grounds of Osborne for the Friends, albeit in controlled numbers and via contacting the site directly to book rather than use the online booking system.  Details of the new arrangements, including the phone number to call, will be forwarded to all members via their email addresses in the next few days.  Any members without an email should contact the secretary directly on the number below. 

Please continue to follow our Facebook page and our website and continue to forward any queries to our secretary at telephone 01983 295780.

Best wishes
Rob Flower
Chair of Friends of Osborne Trustees.