Historic Ryde Society

‘Giving Ryde’s Past to the Future’

Historic Ryde Society Quiz Night Thursday 30 November 2023 at Yelf's Hotel, at 7p.m. for 7.30pm.

Ryde has a plethora of Hotels and Public Houses on this page you will find information how our ancestors used & worked in them.

An early account of Ryde hospitality was written by Henry Fielding, in 1754. Fielding was very ill, and resolved to journey to Lisbon for the sake of his health. On July 12, he writes: ‘This day our ladies went ashore at Ryde, and drank their afternoon tea at an alehouse there with great satisfaction: here they were regaled with fresh cream….’ Henry’s wife managed to persuade him that a trip onshore might be a good thing. Henry is known to have stayed at the Nag’s Head, in the High Street, on the site currently occupied by Fired Art. The landlady, one Mrs Francis, did not endear herself to Fielding, by failing to have his meal ready on the table at 4pm, having spent the time with ‘her mop’ washing the house. The beans and bacon she provided was insufficient to satisfy them and, there being a fisherman next door, ‘we completed the best, the pleasantest and the merriest meal, with more appetite, more real, solid luxury, and more festivity than was ever seen in an entertainment at White’s.’ Mrs Francis’ reputation was further sullied when Fielding complained about the bill the next day. Mrs Francis immediately responded: ‘She was proceeding thus, and from her volubility of tongue seemed likely to stretch the discourse to an immoderate length, when I suddenly cut all short by paying the bill’.

It is possible to read Fielding’s full account of his sojourn in Ryde here. They did have one further complaint before setting forth on their journey, however. Having returned some of their belongings on board ship, and the wind having changed course once more, they were obliged to spend an extra day ashore. To their consternation, their tea chest was lost: ‘The whole town of Ryde could not supply a single leaf; for as to what Mrs Francis and the shop called by that name it was not of Chinese growth. It did not indeed in the least resemble tea, either in smell or taste; or in any particular unless in being a leaf, for it was in truth no other than being a tobacco of the mundungus species’.

Fielding was quite charmed with the situation of Ryde, however, and may be said to have written one of its first tourist guides: Ryde’s ‘situation is, I think, most delightful, and in the most pleasant spot in the whole island.’ Obviously, many others later agreed with him, as, shortly after the turn of the century, work began on creating a pier for Ryde, the Kemp family first advertised their baths, and the floodgates opened. The Reverend John Wesley’s visit to Ryde was not quite so charming, although he had reason to be very grateful to the hosts at the Vine Inn. For more information, click here.

Ryde Esplanade showing The Esplanade Hotel, with Ryde Castle in the distance

Ryde Hotels and Public Houses articles:-

Royal Kent Hotel

Ryde Castle

Sheridan’s Hotel

Westfield Park Hotel

New hotel design – September 1860

If you require any information about pubs in Ryde, look no further than Kevin Mitchell’s website, which includes pubs across the Isle of Wight, and which can be found here.

Stories about Ryde Hotels from the local papers can be found here.