The withdrawal of government grants to maintain historically significant buildings marked the beginning of a new era for Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage). Faced with the challenge of having to generate income from the historic assets for which it is responsible, Historic England consulted Childs Sulzmann about how best to develop the historic Osborne House on the Isle of Wight to increase revenue.
Other than grants, income from Osborne House, which has huge historic significance as the holiday home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, was largely being derived from public entrance fees and sales of gifts and refreshments. A large part of the house, formerly used as a retirement home for naval officers, had been vacant for some years.
Because of the practice’s extensive experience in the commercial development of hospitality venues and historic buildings Childs+Sulzmann, along with hospitality consultants Godfrey Adamson was asked by Historic England to prepare a report on the opportunities to increase revenue from Osborne House. The report identified a number of opportunities including turning vacant rooms into accommodation, hosting weddings, banqueting and a restaurant. A business case was prepared for each opportunity and the first of these, the Dunbar Room, has now been developed and is available to hire as a unique banqueting room.
The Dunbar room, previously used as exhibition space, has been reconfigured and restored to capitalise on the royal grandeur, regal architecture, lavish interiors, beautiful terraced gardens and sea views as a backdrop to corporate events.
“If as a nation we can no longer afford to fund these wonderful buildings, it’s crucial that we find ways to make them commercially viable whilst retaining all the history and magic of their original design and function. It’s a privilege to have been asked to use our expertise in this area on such a prestigious building.” Nick Childs, Partner.