Durbar Chairs Return Home To Osborne House After 100 years

By Rose Shillito | 19 April 2007
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Photo of grand dining room with white stuccoed ceiling

The Durbar Room at Osborne House, taken in the 1890s when it was Queen Victoria's favourite holiday home, showing the Durbar chairs in situ. Courtesy English Heritage

Four of the original Durbar chairs, made for Queen Victoria in 1890-91, have been restored to their rightful home in Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, after 100 years spent in private collections.

English Heritage helped to raise £45,000 to buy the chairs after being tipped off when they appeared in a Midlands sale room. They join five chairs from the original set of 36, bringing the total at Osborne House to nine.

Photo of four leather and wooden dining chairs arranged in a row

The four Durbar chairs secured by English Heritage for Osborne House. Courtesy English Heritage

“The chairs were disposed of shortly after Queen Victoria’s death when they were presumably thought to be of little interest. However, the chance for us to acquire them and bring them back home to Osborne after nearly 100 years is very exciting,” said Michael Hunter, English Heritage curator at Osborne House.

The magnificent walnut and leather chairs were designed by Bhai Ram Singh to complement the Indian style Durbar Room, commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1890 and designed by Ram Singh and John Lockwood Kipling, father of the writer, Rudyard Kipling.

Photo of carved wooden chair back of dining chair

The intricately carved chair back featuring an elaborate bird motif which is repeated on panels in the door and door surrounds in the Durbar Room. Courtesy English Heritage

Ram Singh supervised British craftsmen to work on the room, completing the room’s architectural form and the majority of the furnishings, including the 36 Durbar chairs. The bird motif on the chair backs is repeated on panels in the door and door surrounds in the Durbar Room.

After completing the Durbar Room, Kipling enjoyed a distinguished career in India and Ram Singh went on to win many prizes.

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