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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Osborne Cottage
Osborne Cottage

On Friday afternoon two of our ‘Characters’ appeared at Osborne Cottage, East Cowes:

Lady Lees of Beachlands, Dover Street, Ryde, dressed in all her finery and renowned throughout the town for holding the most magnificent parties and social events, spoke about the wedding of her daughter, Nora, to Mr Clarence Pigou at Holy Trinity Church in 1876 – the splendid wedding breakfast, the dinner, the servants’ party all held at Beachlands and the dinner and dance at the Town Hall where the wedding guests wore their special outfits again. Lady Lees was also known for helping the poor and needy of the town and explained how she had given hampers full of dinners, puddings, cake and wine to many of the poor following the wedding.

Later we were delighted to see Mrs Frances Barnes, beautifully attired in her best dress and hat, who with her husband Daniel ran the Royal Pier Hotel on the Esplanade in the late 19th century. She told us how they had built up the business and established the hotel as one of the best in Ryde attracting aristocracy and gentry from all over Europe, and then the sad story of her husband’s passing and the subsequent family reconciliations.

A slide show showing how Ryde developed from two small hamlets, the fishing and the farming communities, into the thriving town Lady Lees and Mrs Barnes knew, accompanied the wonderful performances from our characters. The dramatic scenes were very ably conducted by our very own narrator, Mrs MacDonell. The show finished with some slides showing tours of the Island by horse carriage and by motor bus and an early 20th century boat excursion.

Thanks to Carol, Kate, Shelagh, Ann and Arthur for entertaining the residents and friends of Osborne Cottage. Afterwards we were able to talk to the residents about their memories of Ryde, pass round more photographs of the town and answer questions.

Osborne Cottage is a residential home run by the Somerset Care Group. It overlooks the Osborne House Estate and was the home of Princess Beatrice. It retains many of the original features of the house such as the grand staircase leading to the glass dome, the library and the orangery.

RSHG would like to thank Sarah and the staff of Osborne Cottage for inviting us and looking after us all afternoon, and to the wonderful residents, their families and friends for such a warm welcome.

Photographs by Arthur Williams

(If you would like to book a slide show talk with some ‘Ryde Characters’ for your group, residential home or community hall please contact RSHG for more details using the ‘Contact’ link at the top of the page. We can also arrange group guided tours of Ryde Cemetery and its Heritage Centre.)