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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RSHG Summer Open Days 17-18 June 2017

David and visitors on a cemetery walk

Ryde Social Heritage Group held their annual Summer Open Days at Ryde Cemetery Heritage and Learning Centre during the weekend of 17 and 18 June. The event was blessed with clear skies and high temperatures throughout and thanks to a last minute “cavalry charge” organised by Sue Campion of Bereavement Services the Ryde Cemetery grounds were looking very attractive and tidy, with new summer flowers in the various beds.

The theme this year was ‘From Small Beginnings’ and the exhibition showed among other things the development of Ryde from two small hamlets to a bustling Victorian town, local churches and the RSHG website from its inception to its current national award winning format. Laptops and computers in the North Chapel were set up for visitors to browse through photos illustrating the overall theme. 

As always there were lots of walks available throughout the weekend, both guided and self-guided. The guided walks were undertaken by David Earle, Kate MacDonell and Carol Strong.

The Character Walk or ‘Meet the Residents’, which was probably one of the best to date, had appreciative audiences on both days and continued the exhibition theme of developing Ryde. The residents portrayed were Mrs Caroline Rendall from the Royal Pier Hotel (Hilary Lloyd), Mr Thomas Simpson Flower a Ryde Chemist and weather recorder (Dave Bushell), Miss Mary Harriette Player Brigstocke a well-known philanthropist (Ann Barrett) and Mrs Mary Catherine Barrie an opera singer with stage name of Madam Maud Santley (Shelagh Gaylard). The melodious warblings of the latter were not received as seriously by the audience as they should have been. The ensemble were led through their stories by our excellent narrator Kate MacDonell.

Wendy and Nicki from Grave Concerns joined us on Saturday with a display of the work they do throughout the Island cemeteries to clean, rejuvenate and maintain graves on behalf of relatives. They were able to offer advice and take on new commissions and showed the artificial turf they are now introducing to their work.

Refreshments were available throughout the weekend and many visitors took the opportunity to take tea and browse our information files in the learning centre. Over the two days and despite numerous counter attractions, the numbers attending were just over 90, with Saturday being the most popular. Although possibly not as many we would have liked those who did come tended to stay for long periods and were very appreciative of the displays and activities available.


Photographs by Carol Strong & David Bushell