Ryde, Isle of Wight

Ryde, a municipal borough and a parish in the Isle of Wight. The borough stands on the coast, at the N terminus of the Isle of Wight railway, opposite Spithead, 5½ miles by water SSW of Portsmouth, and 79 from London. The town has stations on the Isle of Wight railway, and the Ryde, Newport, and Cowes railway. It was anciently called La Riche or La Rye, was a port and a watch station in the time-of Edward III., was burnt by the French in 1377, went afterwards into decline, had a population of only about 220 in 1656, and of 1601 in 1811, is now the largest town in the island, a coastguard station, and the landing-place of about nine-tenths of all the visitors to the island, communicates constantly by steamers with Portsmouth, Gosport, Southampton, Cowes, and Stokes Bay, and by railway with Brading, Sandown, Shanklin, and Ventnor; occupies the N and E faces of a moderately elevated hill, together with neighbouring plains and slopes; consists chiefly of streets running parallel with the shore, or at right angles,. and generally well-built, wide, and clean; includes a suburb in the parish of St Helens; enjoys charming environs, with pleasant views of the mainland shores and of the island's hills; and has two banks, several hotels, very numerous lodging-houses, a good bathing beach, various bathing establishments, a profusion of boating appliances, an excellent pier, an esplanade, a town-hall and market-house, an assembly room, a theatre, a royal arcade, a yacht club-house, four churches, dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a public cemetery, a young men's Christian association, a temperance hall, recreation courts, almshouses, a dispensary,. public libraries, an infirmary, and publishes three weekly newspapers.

The pier is 2250 feet long, and from 12 to 20 wide; was formed in successive portions from 1813 till 1861; serves a— a delightful promenade, and has an electric tramway. The esplanade is a noble walk and drive, nearly a mile long. The town-hall and market-house were built in 1831 at a cost of £12,583, and have an Ionic portico on a plain Doric colonnade, and the town-hall is in the upper part and is used for public meetings, concerts, and balls. The assembly-room is over the town-hall, and was constructed in 1867. The royal arcade was built in 1835 at a cost of £12,000, but shows little correspondence of either appearance or capability to its cost. The yacht club-house was built in 1847, and is noted for connection with a splendid regatta about the middle of August; the building was considerably enlarged in 1864. The parish church of All Saints was erected in 1870, and is a handsome building of stone in the Geometrical Early English style with a lofty spire, and contains some fine stained-glass windows. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester, with St Thomas annexed; net value, £198 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Winchester. Trinity Church occupies a commanding site on the brow of the hill, was built in 1845, is in the Early English style, and has a tower and spire 146 feet high; the building was restored in 1886. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester; net value, £220 with residence. The church of St Thomas is a chapel of ease to the parish church. St James' Church was erected in 1829, and is a stone building in the Gothic style, with octagonal embattled turrets. The living is a perpetual curacy; gross value, £500. St John's Church, built in 1843, is a stone structure in the Early English style. The living is a vicarage; net value, £300. The Roman Catholic chapel was built in 1845 at the expense of the Countess of Clare, and is in an elaborate variety of the Early English style; it was enlarged in 1883, and a Lady chapel added with elaborate decorations. There are Congregational, Baptist, Wesleyan, Methodist, and Bible Christian chapels. The public cemetery was formed in 1842, and has been enlarged. The Young Men's Christian Association rooms are in a building erected in 1867, and include class-rooms, newsroom, and libraries. The infirmary and county hospital is on the road to Ashey.

The borough is divided into two wards, and is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 19 councillors, who act as the urban district council. Area of the borough, 792 acres; population, 10,952; of the civil parish, 3814 acres; population, 12,274. The population of the ecclesiastical parish of All Saints, with St Thomas, is 7086; Holy Trinity, 3401; and St Michael and All Angels (Swanmore), 1512. The manor was originally part of Ashey manor, became separate in 1565, was then purchased by A. Dillington, and went by sale in 1704 to the family of Player. Appley Towers is a handsome building in the Elizabethan style.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5