Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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St Valentine’s Day Fancy Dress Ball

Valentines Ball
Valentines Ball

February 1895

That time honoured anniversary, St Valentine’s Day, was celebrated in Ryde in a rather novel fashion, a fancy and evening dress ball being given in the Town Hall on that evening. This was arranged to aide the funds of the Ryde Exhibitions and Horticultural Association, which we think, as there was a very large attendance, must have benefited considerably. Mr Wiber’s Quadrille Band provided music, and the programme included no less than 24 dances. The MCs – Messrs H Adams, J I Barton, W Griffiths, C Newbald and W E Smith – very efficiently carried out their duties, and, in spite of the inclement weather, the ball was an extremely successful one.

As it was known that the lord of the Manor of Ashey and Ryde, Mr W P Brigstocke, had kindly presented a handsome and valuable bracelet to be given to the lady who wore the most novel and tasteful costume, the ladies’ dresses were even more varied and brilliant than on the last occasion, and when the dances were in progress, the scene was brilliant and striking.

About 12 o’clock Mr Barton, addressing those present, explained that a handsome bracelet was to be awarded, and asked the ladies present to write on a card the name of the lady whose costume was considered the most original and striking. Cards were passed round, amongst the ladies only, collected, and examined by the MCs, and then Mr Barton returned to the room and announced that the voting had gone in favour of Miss Nellie Stamp, an announcement which was received with loud applause. Up to that time the name of the donor of the prize had not been publicly announced, and on Mr Barton stating that they were indebted to the lord of the Manor for it, there was quite a loud burst of applause. Miss N Stamp (who was supposed to represent “The Order of the Bath”) wore a dress which was certainly extremely novel, so far as the material of which it was composed was concerned. This appeared to be Turkish towels, the red embroidery making an effective sash and ornamentation for the skirt. She had a bathing cap on her head; and sponges, etc. judiciously arranged, helped still further to accentuate the character.

Her sister, Miss R Stamp, wore a dress which was almost equally effective, her cap forming a chess board, and the skirts of her dress being made up in large black and white chequers. Miss Jesse Garrett looked a striking figure as “Night,” being attired in a black dress with a crescent moon in her hair. Amongst the other original dresses the following attracted notice – Miss F Potts, a pack of cards; Miss M Potts, a new woman (short skirts, waistcoat, coat and cap); Miss F Stainer, a pretty evening dress, Miss Loveridge, sailor; Miss L Smith, fairy; Miss R Woodward, slate pencil, (a slate tinted costume with a slate at her side); Miss Harvey, fairy; Miss E Wallis, fishwife; Miss N Stamp, Queen of Hearts; Miss Whittington, gipsy; Miss Pomane, Colleen Bawn; Miss G Waller, accordion; Miss McMahon, Neapolitan; Miss Perkis, pigeon; Miss Jesse, Esmeralda; Miss Ridgley, Grecian.

Amongst the gentlemen’s dresses the most striking and original figure was Mr W Stamp as a skein of wool – “Real English worsted,” being printed at the top, and “Made in Germany” at the bottom. Mr Beti made a very good Mephistopheles, and Mr E Loader, black all down one side and white the other, looked excessively comical. Mr F Osborne was got up well as a stage Irishman, and Mr E Fowles was a Pierrot.

Source: Isle of Wight Observer 16 February 1895. Researched and typed by Ann Barrett & Janette Gregson
Image purchased from The Victorian Picture Library