3 Alexandra Gardens: Bermuda House
Bermuda House 2008
Number 3 is one of the two houses that is still a single unit, along with the Windsor Carlton at number 5. Since 2007 this house has been used as holiday self catering accommodation, sleeping ten in its five bedrooms and graded as four star gold award by the tourist board.
"Bermuda" in the 1931 Ventnor Guide
Number 3 is probably the best known house in the street, as it has a blue plaque outside commemorating that the composer Edward Elgar chose to spend his honeymoon on the first floor of the house.
As far as we can tell the semi-detached pair, numbers 3 and 4, were the first houses to be completed in the street in 1883 - the leases on the house were for 999 years from 29th July 1882. The lease and freehold of number 3 were joined together in 1976, and the house is now freehold.
Initially the house was occupied by Thomas Petherick, a Professor of Music, but by 1886 the house was a lodgings or apartment house. The first and second floors were separate serviced apartments which, certainly by 1889 when Elgar visited, were being let on a short-term basis. Presumably the landlady and family would have occupied the ground floor and basement. The 1891 census return for the house shows Jessie Streeter as a lodgings house keeper with two live in domestics, a "cook, domestic servant" and a "general servant".
Ventnor Pier from number 3 in the 1970's
In the late 1890's Harriet Seabrook and her husband David moved in and continued to run a lodging house on the premises. David had been associated with the corn trade for all of his life and shortly after arriving in Ventnor became maltster at Ventnor Brewery. At this time the house was known as "San Remo". In 1908 Harriet bought the joint lease to numbers 3 and 4 and continued to live in number 3 - until that time they had a sublease on number 3. When they sold in 1922 they sold separate leases for the two houses.
In the mid-1920's the house became the Manse for Ventnor Congregational Church and was occupied by the Rev A Allon Smith, who created controversy by moving out to live with his brother in Ryde, claiming that the house was too big.
The 1931 Ventnor Town Guide carried an advertisement for a boarding house "Bermuda" at number 3 which is the earliest reference we have seen to the house being associated with that name. In that guide it boasted "Excellent Cuisine, Separate Tables" (by the time of the 1933 guide "Unlimited Electric Light" was also on offer). Incidentally the trees at the front, which give a Bermuda atmosphere to the house do not date back to the 1930's - they were planted in the 1980's.
"Bermuda" in the 1947 Ventnor Guide
The first mention of "Bermuda" in the Deeds was when the freeholder, Sybil Knight granted a license to the leaseholder, Gladys Sergeant to use the building as a "Private Hotel or High Class Guest House or Boarding House". It is not clear why this was applied for at this time, as it had clearly performed the function for many years before. Certainly the 1931 guide shows that the house was a boarding house. Number 3 remained as a guest house until 2002.
The advertisement from the 1947 Ventnor holiday guide was one of five advertisements for houses in Alexandra Gardens as somewhere to stay for a holiday, so it was clearly a street pretty much dedicated to holidays at that time.
The guest book running from the 1950's to the 1970's is now held at the Ventnor Heritage Museum.
Although the house has now reverted to its original five bedrooms, there were nine in 1979 when Peter and Laurie Parsons bought the house, with the larger rooms divided into two with a wall from the middle of the windows. In these long narrow rooms there were two single beds with their bed heads back to back. At that time each room had a wash basin and there was one guest toilet on the stairs between the ground and first floor, shared between the nine rooms. None of the bedrooms had power sockets in them.
Having talked to two of the more recent owners, when it was a guest house, the building had a strong emotional response - not just regarding the house as a business - as is felt by the current owner. In its heyday as a guest house the basement would have provided both the working space and living space for the family, as well as a guest dining room at the front.
Here are some of the key names and dates associated with the house, gleaned from the Deeds, Kelly's Directories and other sources.
If you have further information about this house or have stayed there in the past please contribute to the 3 Alexandra Gardens thread in our discussion forum.