To commemorate the anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria, this blog post takes a look at an object from our collection with a distinguished place in history, the gun carriage that carried the late Queen on her final journey from Osborne House.

The day of Queen Victoria’s funeral, Saturday 2nd February 1901, came with excellent weather. Reporting from Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, The Times noted that ‘the sky was cloudless and blue; the Solent looked like the Mediterranean itself.’ [1] Outside the House had quietly gathered leading members of the European aristocracy, local school children, Isle of Wight dignitaries, leading members of the staff of the Commander-in-Chief of Portsmouth, convalescent soldiers, and tenants of the estate. The paper continued;

‘Then, quite suddenly, the note of a naval and military ceremonial seemed to break silently. The gun carriage and horses and men of ‘Y’ Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, took up their position and the bearer party of bluejackets marched in from the left, and were drawn up.’

The Royal coffin was slowly brought ‘outside upon the gun carriage, with the Highland servants and pipers in full dress. Almost at the same moment, the Grenadier Guards received the word of command, and slow-marched, wheeling to the right, until they stood, a sinuous avenue of scarlet, with towering bearskins, followed the curved lines of the road from the Quadrangle into the drive. All eyes were fixed upon the coffin as it moved slowly forward on the gun carriage and on the drooping Royal Standard that draped it partially’ as well as ‘the little group of Royal personages, so small it seemed, but yet so great, who walked sadly behind.’

img_4270

From here the funeral cortege proceeded slowly down the hill into Cowes and to Trinity Pier from where the Queen’s coffin was passed into the custody of the Royal Navy for conveyance to Portsmouth and then to London.

The gun carriage referred to is currently on display at the Royal Armouries Museum of Artillery at Fort Nelson. It features a 15-pounder Field Gun and carriage.

References:

[1] No. 36369, The Times, Monday February 4th, 1901, page 5. ‘Funeral of the Queen.’