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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Pierrot’s at Ryde

Clifford Essex Royal Pierrot Banjo Team

August 1898
Mr Clifford Essex’s deservedly popular “Royal Pierrot Banjo Team” who have found so many imitators, will give concerts at the Town Hall, Ryde, on Saturday (today), at 3.30 and 8 o’clock, and next Friday, the 26th inst., at the same times.  We have no doubt that the Hall will be well filled both at the afternoon and evening performances.  This we understand, is the only appearance the team will make in Ryde this year, and therefore the Ryde public will not have another opportunity of listening to Miss Dewhurst’s sweet songs, or laughing at “Jimmy’s” comicalities and parodies.  The entertainment is at popular prices.

Clifford Essex is in very good voice this season, Little Jimmy as funny, and Pierette just as charming as ever.

Clifford Essex, founded the first ever Pierrot Troupe in 1891 at Henley Regatta.

Originally called “The Pierrot Banjo Team” they changed their name to “Clifford Essex’s Royal Pierrots” after performing for His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) on board the Royal Yacht at Cowes Regatta in August 1891.

The seaside Pierrot troupe is a uniquely British art form, which began in 1891. That year, a gifted banjo player and producer of entertainments for society events, called Clifford Essex, watched a performance of L’Enfant Prodigue at The Prince of Wales Theatre. It was a largely mimed performance featuring a family of Pierrots and it gave Essex the idea of costuming a concert party in white satin, pompoms and ruffles, to perform banjo pieces at The Henley Regatta and, later that year, at Cowes. The project was a resounding success and led to his troupe performing throughout the country for almost three decades.

Sources: IW Observer & Personal Memoirs of Clifford Essex
Image: Courtesy of Dr Tony Lidington and www.seaside follies.co.uk
Article: Ann Barrett