Sheridan's Ryde Map

With FREE House History workshops now a regular feature of the Historic Ryde Society calendar, the research below shows what kind of material can be discovered with a little delving into the archives. The research was done several years ago as a birthday present for a friend who lives in the house. There is one new course coming up – on Wednesday, September 25. Please call 01983 717435 during opening hours, Monday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm, for further information. This map appears in an 1833 Guide to the Isle of Wight, published by Gloster Sheridan, a hotelier from Newport, who ran a boarding establishment in Union Street, opposite Yelf’s Hotel. (2013 – currently Ladbrokes) The map clearly shows no development on the shore east of Wellington Street (now Dover Street), and from the Newchurch Poor Rate books, we learn that Ryde Castle was begun in 1833. The development of the road we now know as The Strand, followed over the next ten to twelve years, and Ryde Esplanade was laid out in 1855/56. Gloster Sheridan was an early mover and shaker in Ryde, who helped to lay both the foundation and cope stones of Ryde Town Hall and Market House in 1830/31. He was also present at the ceremonies celebrating the Royal Victoria Arcade, but fell into financial difficulties and left the Island to become a Workhouse Governor. He died in Salford, very shortly after the 1841 census, leaving a pregnant wife and five children, four of whom had remained with grandparents in Newport. One of the most successful Ryde builders of this period was Thomas Dashwood, born in Whippingham in 1788. Thomas was responsible for many important buildings in the town, including Brigstocke Terrace, St Thomas’ Church, Holy Trinity Church, Ryde Town Hall and Market House and several of the houses in The Strand. (He also built St Catherine’s Lighthouse) Beautiful plans for The Strand exist in the Isle of WIght County Record Office, with strict instructions for the builders: ‘No erection of any kind, or any tree, flower or shrub is to be allowed more than four feet higher than the top of the north boundary wall except trees or shrubs growing within eight feet of the land to be built on’. Dated October 1842, these instructions appear on a plan for numbers 12 and 13 The Strand, on a plot owned by Edward Marvin, who later became Mayor of Ryde. The Rate Books of April 1844 indicate there are six houses completed in The Strand at this time, including Dover House, built and owned by Thomas Dashwood. Thomas built and lived in Dover Cottage, across the road from Dover House, on the south side of the road. Thomas, and subsequently his Trustees and heirs, owned Dover House for more than sixty years but only lived in it for a very short time. Over that period of sixty years, it was leased to three separate families, with very different stories to tell. The first tenant, in 1848, was Sir James Brabazon Urmston. Born in Chigwell in 1785, James followed his father into the East India Company and sailed to Canton on a ship owned by his father – the Sir Edward Hughes, in 1816. It is related that when the ship stopped in St Helena  to supply the garrison James ‘partook of breakfast with Napoleon’. James and his wife Elizabeth lived in Macau, and had four sons and a daughter. James was knighted for his part in dealing with  Ruan Yuen, the Viceroy of Canton, and the affair of the frigate Topaze in 1821, and in the 1823/24 season, earned nearly £20,000 commission. He wrote a book about his experiences: ‘Observations on the China Trade: And on the importance and advantage of removing it, from Canton, to some other part of the coast of that empire’, published by A H Baily in 1834. James’ sons pursued military careers, and his daughter died unmarried. His third son, Henry, married Harriet Elizabeth, the daughter of William Hughes Hughes MP of Bellevue House, Ryde. The Poor Rate Books indicate the Urmstons only took the house for the season, as Thomas Dashwood’s name appears in the October 1848 entry. With the establishment of The Isle of WIght Observer in September 1852, and its weekly publication of ‘The Fashionable List’, a comprehensive list of residents of and visitors to Ryde, researching tenants of houses is made much easier. William Henry Hamilton and his wife Catherine occupied Dover House full time until the end of June, 1860. From the Australian Dictionary of Biography, we learn that William was born in Liverpool in around 1790, and began his career as a public servant and banker. After joining the Navy, he became secretary to Admiral Scott in June 1808 and subsequently Sir Richard King, commander of the Indian Station. In 1820, William became a partner in a mercantile house in Bombay. Ill health forced him to leave India in 1824, and William and Catherine travelled to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), where he became a dealer in wool, settling near Hamilton, a town possibly named after him. William was asked to take over the running of the Naval Office, and subsequently became Police Magistrate of the New Norfolk District. He resigned in 1830 to become the first full time salaried bank manager in Australia, and returned to England with his family in January 1832. He became the London representative of the Derwent Bank until its closure in 1849. After leaving Dover House, William and Catherine moved to Southfield House in Haylands, Ryde, which they had built in 1859/60. Sadly, Catherine died in August 1861, and is buried in Ryde Cemetery. William moved to Bristol, where he died in 1870. Within a week of William and Catherine’s departure from Dover House, The Fashionable List tells us the Bloxam family had moved in. Robert Bloxam was a founder member of the College of Surgeons, and he and his wife Anne moved to the Island shortly after their marriage in Westminster in 1800. Their first child, John, was born in Newport in July 1801. (Robert’s nephews, Andrew and Richard, were on the voyage of HMS Blonde in 1824, when it returned the bodies of the King and Queen of the Sandwich Islands, (now Hawaii) who had both succumbed to measles on a journey to England. Andrew became an eminent botanist. His brother Matthew is known as the source of the myth that William Webb Ellis was the founder of the game of Rugby. Their mother was a sister of the artist Sir Thomas Lawrence.) Anne Bloxam and her children moved to Dover House following Robert’s death. Their daughter Lucy remained there until her own death in 1904. It is worthy of note that her servants, Frank and Hannah Moorman, remained with her for over thirty years. Lucy Bloxam’s obituary reveals she was an enthusiastic supporter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Volunteer movement, and very well thought of in the local community. If you would like to learn more about the history of your home, or any house, please get in touch via the Heritage Centre, as free House History workshops are offered from time to time. The next is on February 20, 2013, followed by another on March 27. Return to Houses page