Life in the Big Houses of Ryde
In January and March the Ryde Social Heritage Group has been busy bringing history alive through its ‘Meet the Residents’ presentations.
Havenstreet Country Women and Ryde Baptist Church Fellowship had the good fortune to travel back in time to the 1860s and meet Mrs. Young of Appley Towers, (played by Hilary Lloyd) and Lady Clifford of Westfield, (played by Shelagh Gaylard.) These ladies appeared quite competitive when discussing their husband’s very different art collections and describing the architectural merits and grandeur of their mansion houses and estates. They both mentioned their frequent visits to the continent and Mrs. Young lamented the inefficiency of the ferry service from Ryde Pier Head.
Time travelling forward to the early 1900s, audiences were also introduced to Mrs. Gawn, (played by Ann Barrett) recently retired from her long service with the household of Sir John Lees of Beachlands. Mrs. Gawn’s tales of life above and below stairs were very entertaining.
An added treat at Havenstreet was the appearance (from the 1880s) of the rather eccentric chemist and meteorologist, Mr. Thomas Flower, (played by Terry Pearson.) Mr. Flower kindly offered some of his tried and tested remedies to anyone who might be feeling under the weather!
Audiences at both events numbered between 35 and 40. As always, narrator Kate MacDonell, had to keep the characters in order and pull the basic script back together when the ad-libbing got out of hand.