The Durbar Room
The Durbar room was constructed in 1890-91 to
provide a state banqueting hall, which
had been lacking at osborne. previously, major receptions were held
in marquees on the lawn.
The name "Durbar"
is derived from the indian word meaning both a state reception and
the hall within such gatherings were held. The name is appropriate
in terms of both the function of the room and its Indian style of
architecture, which was popular for a brief period of time towards
the end of the nineteenth century. The style was used in the 1880's
by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, for the billiard room at Bagshot
Park, the interior of which was carved by Bhai Ram Singh under the
supervision of Lockwood Kipling (father of author Rudyard Kipling),
who was directed of the Mayo School of Art, Lahore, India.
In 1890 Kipling was
asked to submit an Indian design for Osborne and the following year
he arrived with Bhai Ram Singh to discuss a scheme with Queen Victoria
and Princess Louise- herself an accomplished sculptress. Temporary
Indian cotton hangings covered the bare walls until the decoration
was completed in 1893.
The deeply coffered
(panelles) ceiling is composed of fibrous plaster by G Jackson &
Sons of London, taken from moulds produced under supervision of
Ram Singh. The walls are enriched with plaster and carton pierre
- a type of papier mache common in the late nineteenth century.
Every surface is richly embellished from the ceiling to the white
walls which are enlivened by teak framing. The decoration includes
the Indian symbols of Ganesha - the elephant god of good fortune
- over the door near the gallery, a peacock over the chimney-peace.
Jacksons had 26 craftsmen working on the chimney-piece and overmantel.
Over 500 hours were spent on producing the peacock alone, which
was equivalent to one man working solidly for ten weeks.
The original Durbar
dining-room furniture was disposed of in 1909