‘Giving Ryde’s Past to the Future’

Historic Ryde Society Quiz Night Thursday 29th June 2023 at Yelf's Hotel, at 7p.m. for 7.30pm.

St Thomas’ Street

Isle of Wight Observer March 19 1870

A RARE OCCURRENCE – At the clear-out at Old Manor House, the building materials having been purchased by Mr C James, it was found that the stairs of the brewhouse had been covered with wood which probably, years ago, had been in St Thomas’ Church, as the Ten Commandments had been painted thereon. As soon as this was discovered, there was a rush of gentlemen to purchase the pieces, one of which we have seen, with the words, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife”. This bought for 1s. In the course of the demolition of the old place probably some more antiquities may turn up to Mr James’ advantage. We understand the committee of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club will effect the contemplated alterations before the commencement of the season, which is expected to begin earlier than usual.

The Old Manor House was on the site of what is now a car park, next to the Prince Consort building – itself formerly the RVYC.

BURIED ALIVE – Almost immediately after the sale of the Old Manor House, the purchaser thereof commenced dismantling the building, of which we consider a photographic view ought to have been taken before its entire destruction commenced. The workmen engaged were told to keep a sharp lookout for parcels of old guineas and other treasures sometimes found in old buildings that have survived troublous and disturbed times, and in removing the roof a workman perceived what at first had the appearance of a parchment parcel, but which on inspection proved to be the skeleton of an unfortunate cat, which had been by some means buried alive under the tiles, and by this cat hangs a ‘tail’. A long time ago (as the story books say) the venerable Manor house had, in common with many other old buildings, the reputation of being not altogether “canny” in many respects; in fact, it was said to be haunted. Horrible cries, as of some person in the utmost agony of distress, had been heard in one of the upper rooms, but the exact one nobody could point out, for when search was made nothing was seen. This reputation clung to the house for years, but after a time, as the noises ceased to be heard, little more was said about it, and the philosophers of the present enlightened age “pooh-poohed” at the story. But that there was some truth in these traditions who can now deny? The poor animal we have referred to did, indeed, perish by a terrible death, and no wonder that her awful screams, as we picture her frantic despair and fear at her forced imprisonment, and her lower stifled moans when starvation began to weaken her frame – we say, no wonder that the superstitious villagers of the time were struck with horror and dismay. Poor pussy! Over thy ghastly skeleton many a philosopher might ponder with advantage upon the changefulness of all earthly things, for now the tradition you gave birth to is silent, and the house where, perhaps, you passed many happy hours, and where you died so terribly, will be demolished and become a thing of the past! But there can be no doubt that many of the old ghost stories which were once so rife in the Island, when no old castle, house, abbey or priory was without its “ghostly” visitant, might, had they been examined with calmness, been all referred to causes nearly as simple as this which we have stated to be the origin of the ghost of Old Manor House! Our departed townsman and poet, Herbert Baskett, collected many of the legends and ghost stories, which, in the “good old times” were listened to by the peasants round the wood fire with bated breath and a certain kind of awe-struck delight, and we should much like to see his sketches and tales, which contain much that would interest the lovers of the marvellous, reprinted by some enterprising publisher. – Hampshire Independent.