place for information on Ross-on-Wye and the Wye Valley
A GEORGIAN DAY IN ROSS 'ON THE WAY TO THE WYE'
by Norman Bricknell.
To commemorate the founding of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty 40 years ago, it was decided to hold a Georgian
Day in Ross-on-Wye, this being one of several events in
the AONB area to raise the profile of the River Wye and
Georgian period (1714 - 1837) saw significant commercial
activity in Ross and the Wye Valley, partly because, in
1745, the well connected Rector of Ross-on-Wye, Dr. John
Egerton, started taking friends on boat trips down the Wye,
this being the period when the 'Picturesque' movement began
to take off.
1782, William Gilpin published his 'Observations on the
River Wye' (still available in Rossiters of Ross) which
is greatly acknowledged to be the first illustrated tourist
guide, and these two fine gentlemen effectively kicked off
the burgeoning tourist industry in Great Britain. (Wars
and unrest in France and parts of Europe also discouraged
the toffs from going abroad!).
Georgian Day took place in Ross-on-Wye on Saturday, 18th
June and began with the commencement of the 'Walkers Are
Welcome' Walking Festival which kicked off at 10:15am down
by the Riverside. The day then broadly could be described
in four sections.
. . . . .
Jesse Norman MP speaks of the significance of the day and was happy
to lend his support to this great event.
The official start took place at 11:00am at Ross Market
House where Ross Town Mayor, Councillor David Ravenscroft
and Jesse Norman MP, spoke of the significance of the day,
after which local historian Heather Hurley introduced the
principle characters for the historic Progression Through
Town Crier, Mary Sinclair-Powell called the crowd to order
before they were introduced to the splendidly garbed John
Kyrle and his buxom housekeeper, Judith Bubb. Once the walking
parties were assembled, they progressed to the sandstone
Alms Houses in Church Street where the character, Thomas
Hooper, a wonderful old schoolmaster pleaded for a place
in the Alms Houses.
. . . . .
Schoolmaster, Thomas Hooper pleads for a place in the Alms Houses.
John Kyrle with Alexander Pope, William Gilpin and Robert Bloomfield
who explain their part in the Picturesque movement.
In the churchyard, we met Jack the Scape, the sin eater
and, notably the Reverend John Egerton, the aforementioned
Rector of Ross, who in a most effective manner, explained
how he came to start his 'Wye Tours.'
The beautiful panorama from The Prospect saw Alexander Pope,
William Gilpin and Robert Bloomfield explain their part
in the Picturesque Movement.
assembled crowd then moved on to the Swan & Falcon Courtyard
to meet dashing Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton. After an
attempted abduction by highwaymen in Wye Street, Lord Nelson
and Lady Hamilton stepped into the Clinker built boat on
the river from the broad steps in front of the Hope
& Anchor Inn, from where, they were rowed downstream
towards Monmouth on their historic tour.
period costumes, (brilliantly assembled and prepared by
Iris Price), together with the superb acting of all participants,
gave this historic progression and immense feeling of authenticity
and we all learnt a great deal more about the history of
this beautiful area.
. . . . ..
After an attempted abduction, Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton proceed
with their famous River Wye tour.
This man was demonstrating how flax used to be worked, making it
suitable for many uses.
Meanwhile, down in the Caroline Symonds Gardens, adjacent
to the Bandstand there were, throughout the day, a series
of musical and dramatic performances by a classical quartet,
the students of John Kyrle High School and Ashfield Park
Primary School. There were also military demonstrations
going on along with craft demonstrations, including costume
and lace making, rope making and the Mulberry Dyer, together
with excellent exhibitions by many local history societies
as well as the Wye Valley AONB group.
programme of events ran in the Hope & Anchor Conservatory.
These included excellent demonstrations and talks by food
historian, Dr. Annie Gray, Jon Hurley with Georgian wines
and a fascinating, animated talk by Lucy Adlington, who
brilliantly demonstrated what a palaver it was for a posh
Georgian lady to dress and undress.
. . . . .
In the Hope & Anchor Conservatory, Lucy Adlington brilliantly
demonstrated what a palaver it was for posh Georgian ladies to dress
and undress .
Tina being represented with the John Kyrle Award which was presented
to Alan before he died.
Another notable part of the day took place at Ross Market
House at 1:30pm, when the John Kyrle Award was represented
to Tina Jones, partner of the late Alan Wood. This award,
made annually by ART to an individual for outstanding service
to the community had been presented in a small ceremony
to Alan before he died, for all the good work he did for
this town and area with his web site www.wyenot.com. (The
original plan was for Alan to receive the award at the Georgian
event). Richard Mayo, Chairman of ART had arranged for the
award to be presented to Tina by 'John Kyrle' aka Jon Hurley.
also presented to the town a massive cake with the classic
view of Ross Town from the riverside photographically reproduced
on the icing of the cake. Pieces of the cake, which was
made by Richard's wife, Hayley at their shop, Truffles
Delicatessen were then distributed by Ross Sea Cadets
to all those around the Market Place.
. . . . .
John Kyrle cuts the huge cake watched by Town Crier, Mary Sinclair-Powell,
historian, Heather Hurley, Hayley Mayo, who made the cake and Richard
The afternoon continued with a repeat of the historic progression
at 2:00pm. At the conclusion of the progressions, Leader
of the Wye Valley AONB, Andrew Blake thanked all the participants
and his hard working staff for making the day come alive
in such spectacular fashion. The names of all those at the
AONB were not known. However, ART are very aware that Nikki
Moore was a very important link, liaising between the two
numbers of people contributed to the day in different ways
but one thing is for certain; the 48 plus costumes which
were assembled voluntarily by Iris Price was a spectacular
achievement which very much contributed to the character
and success of the day.