[from Ellan Vannin vol 1 #3 p102/110 Dec 1924]
Queen Victorias Visit to Ramsey in 1847.
By A. H. TEARE (Member of the House of Keys for Ramsey).
BY a fortuitous combination of circumstances, the town of Ramsey has frequently been the landing place of Royalty; and, whilst I entirely dissociate myself from that vulgar ill-taste, which would flaunt the fact in the face of other parts of the Island (because we owe the circumstances of these Royal landings largely to the wind and weather), I think we can justifiably rejoice in that the Sovereigns of our land have first set foot on Manx soil at the Northern port, where the Vikings of yoreboth friendly and unfriendlymade their first acquaintance with the Manx people. It is 77 years since the first recorded visit of a British Sovereign to Ramsey Bay, in the person of the late Queen Victoria, who was accompanied by the Prince Albert. Fifty-five years afterwards her Royal son, His Majesty King Edward VII, accompanied by Queen Alexandra, honoured the Island by their memorable surprise visit, on Sunday, August 28th, 1902 and then in July, 1920, our reigning Monarch, King George V, with Queen Mary, followed the example of King Edward VII, and landed at the Queen s Pier, Ramsey. The stories of these rare Royal visits are full of delightful incidents. Recorded in the cold print of the day in which they occurred they may appear very matter-of-fact, but very truly does "distance lend enchantment" in regard to these great occasions, and so I pass on to the readers of " ELLAN VANNIN " the story of 1847, the reading of which should fill our hearts with much admiration and some delight because of the humorous incidents so sombrely described by the journalist of those days.
I cannot do better than reproduce the old story as recorded in the " RAMSEY TIMES," of September 25th, 1847 :
" Never was the town of Ramsey and the North of the Island more highly honoured, and never did we see feelings of loyalty more spontaneously exhibited, than in the present visit of Her Majesty and Prince Albert, with other members of the Royal Household, which is calculated to enliven the feelings and stimulate the inhabitants for centuries to come. The Authorities of the town, comprising His Worship the High-Bailiff (Frederick Tellet, Esq.), Chairman; the Ven. Archdeacon Moore, Vicar-General Corlett, F. B. Clucas, Duncan Gibb, D. Wilson, Esqs., and a considerable number of the inhabitants of the town, convened a meeting on Wednesday, September 15th, for the purpose of preparing a congratulatory Address to Her Majesty, in the hope that an opportunity would occur of presenting it the following day, and a deputation, consisting of the Ven. Archdeacon Moore, the Hon. Deemster Christian, and the Vicar-General, was appointed to accompany the High-Bailiff, with the understanding that on no account was His Worship to delay should any of the deputation be absent. The weather during this time gave little hope that the Royal Squadron would put to sea, and although many a look and wish was cast towards the Point of Ayre, yet not until a little before eight oclock on Monday morning was the Royal yacht seen majestically wending its way towards the bay. As soon as the least glimpse was discernible of the squadron not a moment was lost in making every preparation for the most hearty reception, and it may not be out of place to mention that the feelings of the loyal and dutiful inhabitants of Ramsey had not waned in Her Majestys absence; streaming banners might be seen floating in every direction, and that of John Taggart, Esq., reflected the highest credit on the gentleman. Two pieces of ordnance had also been provided,-which are rather scarce articles in the Isle of Man these peaceful times, under the guidance of Messrs Kaighin and Pendelith. The report of these burst upon the inhabitants with surprise, and their echo resounded in a moment of time from hill to dale; while nearly the whole population simultaneously moved towards or in sight of the advancing party. Unfortunately these pieces of cannon were soon of no avail, through the bursting of one or the other falling into the sea.
The Royal yacht and five other steamers were now in full view, rapidly advancing, and very soon after the whole cast anchor, being about half-past eight oclock. Many boats were now in readiness, and into the one bearing the Royal flag, Mr. Tellett, the High-Bailiff, conveying the Address of the people, entered and immediately put off, deeming it more prudent than to wait the arrival of those appointed to accompany him, in the event that, through delay, the golden opportunity might be lost, and as is doubtless the case, with respect to Douglas, lost for ever. It would be injustice on the part of the public press, as a representative of the North of the Island, not to express the highest gratification for the zeal and intrepidity of His Worship on this occasion, which, it is to be hoped, will operate as a stimulant for increased loyalty in succeeding generations. Not only was the boat by the side of the Royal yacht within a few minutes after dropping anchor, but the High-Bailiff had been seen repeatedly on the most anxious lookout, and in a word, it may be said that he truly verified the well-known expression : England expects this day every man will do his duty." We had ourselves the honour of accompanying the High-Bailiff in the boat, and can vouch for the truth of these statements. After the usual ceremony on the arrival at the boat had been gone through, His Worship was ushered into the presence of Lord Palmerston, and other officials, who tendered a most cordial reception. Owing to Her Majesty being slightly indisposed through seasickness, the presentation of the Address could not take place immediately; but he was assured by the Noble Lord, that the first opportunity should be availed of, which was accordingly done, and the following most loyal and dutiful Address from the spirited inhabitants of Ramsey was received by Her Most Gracious Majesty, and is, doubtless, ere this, placed upon record for time immemorial : To THE QUEEN S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
The humble and dutiful address of the Inhabitants of the Town of Ramsey, and Northern District of the Isle of Man, in public meeting assembled.
May it please your Majesty, WE, your Majestys most loyal and faithful subjects, beg leave most respectfully to approach your Majesty, for the purpose of expressing the gratification and joy it affords us to welcome to our shores the first Sovereign of Great Britain who has thus honoured us.
We hail this opportunity of assuring your Majesty that this proof of reliance on the fidelity of your Manx subjects will long be remembered and cannot fail to perpetuate those feelings of devoted loyalty and of firm attachment to your Majestys Royal person and family, which animates the breast of the people of this Island.
That your Majesty and your Royal Consort may long enjoy health and happiness, and that you may ever sway the hearts of a free and contented people, and continue a pattern of princely and domestic virtue in this life, and when it pleases God to remove you to another world, that you may there enjoy eternal bliss, is the fervent prayer of your loyal and devoted subjects.
By order of the Meeting.
FREDERICK TELLET, High-Bailiff,
Ramsey, 15th Sept., 1847.
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE ALBERT.
We must now for a while leave the Royal squadron, and accompany His Royal Highness, who had ordered the barge to convey him ashore.
Accompanied by Mr. Secretary Anson and Captain Gordon, the Prince proceeded up the beautiful glen of Ballure, whose romantic scenery had no doubt attracted the eye of the Royal visitor, and was here met by Mr. Crellin (of Douglas), Mr. Cubbon, Mr. Cannell, and other respectable individuals, who immediately proceeded to escort the Prince up the Glen, toward the summit of Lhergy Frizell, accompanied by a great concourse of people, comprising men, women, and children, who had assembled in the meantime. The Prince on his way thither entered into a most familiar conversation with those in attendance respecting the produce of the Island, more particularly on the potato crop, and expressed much regret at the appearance of disease in that valuable root, as he passed through a field. On arriving at the top of the hill, the Royal personage expressed his delight with the imposing prospect opened to viewthe whole of the Northern district of the Island was distinctly visible, together with the delightful view of the town and surrounding scenery, and the broad expanse of our beautiful bay which appeared beneath, rendered so very imposing by the steamers and innumerable small craft surrounding them. The Prince was here pointed out some of the principal residences, such as that of Deemster Christian; Claugh Bane, the seat of Thomas Kermode, Esq. ; the different churches in view, viz. : the Andreas and Jurby churches, the ruin of the old Ramsey Church, etc. His Royal Highness expressed great delight at the extent of the scenery, and thought it much more enchanting than that of the Highlands. ~y this time a still larger body of people had assembled, and proceeding down the hill, His Highness was met by a great concourse of the loyal inhabitants, who greeted him with loud cheers as he wended his way down the glen towards the shore. We are in duty bound to give praise where it is justly due, and had it not been for the pressing and repeated entreaties of Mr. Quiggin, who greeted His Royal Highness with " Long Live Prince Albert ! " and joined in the escort, the Lord Bishop, and many other personages, as well as the grand body of the inhabitants, would have been deprived of a treat. His Royal Highness kindly consented to Mr. Quiggins respectful entreaties to walk along the beach to the pier, accompanied by the juvenile fife band, where His Highness was met by the Lord Bishop, the Vicar-General, the High-Bailiffour most worthy Town Magistrate, and a great assemblage of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood, together with a large body of people from all parts of the Island, who repeatedly rent the air with cheers and loud acclamations of loyalty. The scene at this crisis was most imposing the greatest enthusiasm was exhibited, and parties were seen pressing forward to obtain a sight of the Prince others at the same moment giving vent to their excitement in loud hip ! hip ! hurrahs ! ! Amid the most deafening appeals of loyalty, the Prince entered the barge, accompanied by the officers forming the escort, and proceeded to the Royal yacht, passing several boats deeply laden with ladies and gentlemen, who cheered His Highness. as he went along, and arriving at the vessel was again loudly cheered by all the boats surrounding; the excellent band which had been procured for the occasion by the untiring exertions of Messrs Corkill and Crawford, played the tune of " Hes a jolly good fellow," accompanied by many on board the Royal yacht, as well as the boats, which afforded the highest hilarity, and rendered it a sight the most delightful imaginable. If there was a scene more imposing than another in the whole transaction it was the one just narrated, and what gave it still the more lively excitement was the manner in which it was acknowledged by His Royal Highness himself. We cannot omit to notice one other act of condescension on the part of the Prince, worthy of so great a name, that while returning in the barge a most circuitous route had to be taken by the party, thereby lengthening the distance, to the discomfort of His Most Royal Highness. The signal for sailing was given at a quarter-past-one, and shortly after the Deputation from Douglas made its appearance, with a gaudy banner waving in the air. On arriving at Ramsey they hastened to the shore, which they reached by one oclock. It seems, our worthy High-Bailiff, in the expectation of the Governor, had provided a boat expressly for his use, and five gentlemen, viz. : F. G. Tullock, D. F. Wilson, E. Ick, T. Berkley, and W. Watkins, had volunteered to row it. The " delegates," finding this boat, and finding some men with a pound note, pushed off from the shore. " Fairplay is a jewel," and little wonder the fates are against such as descend to acts of meanness. But, alas ! the crafty are at times outwitted. Queens, like time and tide, wait for no man; and before the " delegates" could rush into the presence of Majesty, the wheels were in motion, and the Royal yacht was buffeting the waves towards Maughold. Needless to add, the " Delegates " returned greatly discomfited.
There were illuminations on Albert Hill and the town in the evening, Messrs Corkill and Crawford being specially mentioned in connection therewith."
The delightful story recorded above reveals the over-flowing loyalty which, even in those days, existed in our Island home; and be it said that our forefathers did not content themselves with mere speech and song in celebration, but at once decided to erect a memorial of the historic event, which took the form of the stately " Albert Tower " The story of its erection is recorded in the handbook to Ramsey and Neighbourhood, published in 1882:
The hill on which it stands, Lhergy Frissel, is so called from its former owner. The Tower was built to commemorate the visit of Prince Albert in 1847. Early in the morning the Royal yacht being in the bay, a boat conveyed the Lord Bishop, the Archdeacon, the Northern Deemster, and other gentlemen, to present an Address to Her Majesty, who, however, was indisposed; but they were very graciously received by Lord Palmerston. Sometime after this one of the boats of the Royal yacht had already put off towards the shore, but the expectant crowd were surprised to see it making, not for the pier where they were assembled, but for Ballure, where His Royal Highness landed, and asking the guidance of a few townsmen, was conducted by them to this hill. The prospect gained his warm admiration; he asked many questions, and returned to the Royal yacht evidently well pleased. Immediately after this, the Governor (the Hon. Charles Hope), arrived on the shore, having driven furiously from Douglas, only just in time to have the vexation of seeing the Royal steamers starting for Fleetwood. The band on the shore twitted the crestfallen Governor by playing " Oh, dear ! what can the matter be ?" Illuminations and public rejoicings followed, and it was soon determined to erect this Tower as a memorial. It is, 45 feet high and easily ascended.
A further extract is from the " History and Directory of the Isle of Man ( 1863)":
The principal object that attracts the visitors attention is the tower on Albert Mount. It was erected in commemoration of the visit of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, and her lamented Consort, Albert the Good, on the 20th September, 1847. The inhabitants gave the Royal party a most enthusiastic reception, and in the exuberance of their loyalty, the hill was subsequently named the " Albert Mount." On the summit has been erected a beautiful commemorative tower, bearing the following inscription :
THIS TOWER, ERECTED ON THE SPOT WHERE H.R.H. PRINCE ALBERT STOOD TO VIEW RAMSEY AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD DURING THE VISIT OF HER MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA TO RAMSEY BAY, THE 20TH SEPTEMBER, 1847.
The Tower is a substantial square building, with machicolated battlements. It is erected of granite, and rises to the height of 50 or 60 feet. The foundation stone was laid on Easter Monday, 1848, by the lady of the then Lord Bishop of the Diocese, in the presence cf a large concourse of spectators from all parts of the Island. A most appropriate and impressive prayer was offered up by the Rev. William Kermode, the incumbent of St. Pauls, and addresses were delivered by other gentlemen of the Island. The inscription placed beneath the stone, in an hermetically-sealed glass bottle, is as follows :
THE FIRST STONE OF A TOWER, ERECTED BY THE LOYAL LIEGES OF THE ISLE OF MAN, TO COMMEMORATE THE AUSPICIOUS VISIT OF HER MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA TO THE SHORES OF THIS ISLAND, AND THE LANDING OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE CONSORT, ALBERT, AT RAMSEY, ON THE 20TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 1847, WAS LAID BY MRS. EDEN, THE LADY OF THE HONOURABLE AND RICHT REVEREND ROBERT JOHN EDEN, D.D., LORD BISHOP OF SODOR AND MAN, ON THE 24TH DAY OF APRIL, 1848.