Winter Balls and Banquets
Ryde has always enjoyed festivities during the Christmas season. The local papers reported on the many parties, balls and feasts which took place. The events were particularly grand affairs in the Regency and Victorian periods.
1814 Library, Ryde, Isle of Wight – The inhabitants of Ryde and its vicinity are respectfully informed, that the Annual Winter Ball will be on Thursday, the 29th of December. – Tickets 3s 6d each, Tea and Coffee included.
Source: Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle 19 December 1814, Issue 793
1860 Colonel and Mrs. Cortland Taylor, of Sydney Terrace, entertained a large and distinguished party at the Masonic-Hall on Tuesday evening. Previous to the commencement of the festivities one of the gentlemen stood forward and read the Queen’s Speech, which had been received by Electric International Telegraph.
The majority of the “wealth and beauty” of Ryde and the environs were present on the occasion and amongst the gentlemen were a great number of military and naval officers. The musical arrangements were under the direction of Mr. Jones. The supper tables were literally loaded with every delicacy that the most fastidious taste could desire; while tea and coffee followed in proper succession.
Source: Isle of Wight Observer 28 January 1860
Christmas Bounty – “Open House,” according to annual custom, was kept on Boxing Day at Mr. Nottage’s, Yelf’s Shades. One and all who entered was entertained with roast beef and good cheer, and made merry with the good old customs kept up at the “Baronial Hall.”
At Beachlands – The fine old English custom, which for years had been kept up by the late General Sir James Caldwell, G.C.B., of giving a Christmas ball to his domestics and their friends, has been continued by Mrs. Sullivan and Sir John and Lady Lees.
On Tuesday evening about 100 persons assembled to do honour to this generous invitation. Dancing commenced at 9 o’clock to the strains of Mr. C. W. Salter’s band. Lady Lees leading off the first dance with the butler. For those who did not care for dancing other amusements were provided.
Sources: Isle of Wight Observer 28 December 1861 & 7 January 1865
1880 On Friday evening, General Sir Samuel Browne gave a grand ball in the Town Hall to nearly 200 of the elite of the Island. The arrangements rivalled in completeness those of the public balls which have been rather numerous here recently. The whole of the Town Hall was fitted up for the reception of the numerous guests, and so effectively were the Japanese curtains, furniture, flowers, and mirrors arranged that one could hardly recognise the building under its altered aspect. Half of the large hall was appropriated to the dancers, and the other half filled up exactly like a drawing-room, while the smaller room adjoining was converted into the supper room.
Source: Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle 17 January 1880, Issue 4948
Picture sources: clipartgraphicsfairy; vintagedancers.org; victoriana.com; britishfoodhistory.wordpress