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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Weddins & Royals Open Days
Weddings & Royals Open Days

“Happy is the Bride that the sun shines on*”, and the Royal Wedding was a wonderful event.

Members of Ryde Social Heritage Group decided, to hold two Open Days and put on an exhibition in the Heritage & Learning Centre in Ryde Cemetery on Saturday 30 April and Sunday 1 May 2011, to celebrate the Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Months ago a theme was proposed and agreed: The Research Team headed by Ann Barrett, swung into action to produce material for the exhibition; the ‘Three Musketeers’ also known as Janette, Carol and Kate, began considering how the Exhibition should be displayed and what to include in the Open Days. Family archives were delved into, wedding photographs were produced, and where did they get those hats?!

Royal Weddings, family weddings, Ryde residents’ weddings, documents and photographs were poured over and considered for the display. An exhibition of ‘Weddings in Miniature’ and ‘Wedding Dolls’ was also produced by RSHG members. There was also a display on Ryde Cemetery produced by local schoolchildren.

The displays took weeks to prepare. Souvenir newspapers and programmes for royal events, scrapbooks and photographs were collected. Dressing up clothes for any little girl who wished to be a Bride for an hour were provided and colouring sheets produced for the children. During the weekend two adults were also seen colouring a Wedding Picture! You should have seen the children all dressed up for the fancy dress competition.

It was suggested that there be a Wedding Tableaux of dressed manikins. A wedding dress was steam pressed and displayed, unfortunately the owner, can no longer get into the dress herself. Another wedding dress was displayed together with two bridesmaid’s dresses and a couple of guests in Victorian costumes, all holding bouquets and garlands of flowers. Ann found her mother’s wedding veil from the 1930s and that and a photograph of the bride wearing the veil were also on display.

People began to arrive on the Saturday morning in a steady flow, and over the weekend David Earle was seen perambulating round the Cemetery, with visitors helping them to locate graves. Guided Walks were organised, and talks given relating to particular persons buried in the Cemetery.

Have you ever taken Lunch in a Cemetery? No? Well we did, the sun shone, and a buffet lunch for ten volunteers was set up on a long table, outside the North Chapel. It is hungry work chatting to visitors, and looking up information. Later in the afternoon raspberry meringue and tea was provided for 20 Members and Guests.

Sunday dawned sunny and bright and more visitors came, 150 in all over the weekend. The displays were discussed and admired, family histories looked into and graves located.

The two-day exhibition was pronounced a great success and plans are afoot for more events like this as soon as everyone has recovered from all the hard work involved.

Janette Gregson, Chairman of RSHG said: “It was a fantastic weekend and a real success. Our team put in a huge amount of work to bring the information and displays together and many members supported the weekend by volunteering their help. We all had a fun time.”

Shelagh Gaylard
May 8 2011

Photography by Carol Strong, Dave Bushell & Janette Gregson

* This saying is thought to date back to 1787, F. Grose in “Provincial Glossary (superstitions)” wrote: “It is reckoned a good omen, or a sign of future happiness, if the sun shines on a couple coming out of church after having been married… Happy is the bride that the sun shines on.”