A Sheringham summer holiday in the 1800s

Here is a lovely diary of eighteen year old Helen Richmand who had her family holiday to Sheringhm in 1888. Thank you to Tim Groves at Sheringham Museum for supplying it for our readers to enjoy. You can read his column every month in Just Sheringham magazine

One of Sheringham museum’s gems are the notes of an 18-year-old girl writing in 1888 with memories of a summer holiday that she and her London family took in Sheringham. This is a Sheringham that had only just started to develop from a sleepy seaside village, with the railway finally arriving here a year earlier in 1887.
The following extracts are in Helen’s own words.

August 15th: “We all went to the Roman encampment in the afternoon, all the young ones and Mary in the very smallest of wagonettes, calculated to hold four comfortably, but which had to hold nine, and right squeeze it was. It was a lovely drive. It was a lovely drive, through Beeston and turning off at West Runton up a very sandy lane where we had to walk. It was beautiful at the top as regards the view, but I thought the encampment rather a fraud. No doubt it’s my ignorance; there were no remains, only rows and rows of mounds, or rather banks, on which we sat and played Tippit while the boys explored. On the whole we treated the Romans ‘ribaldly’ , and for that matter, so did everybody. There was a drive through the banks into the middle of the camp, and another road out of it, and lots of carriages waiting about. Just like Hampstead Heath on Bank Holiday, Mary said. “

August 19th: “Mother, Evelyn, Billy, Arthur and I went calling ina ‘barouche’ after lunch. First to the Miss Piggotts (sic.) and saw some watercolour portraits of Grandpapa’s, they have a very pretty old house with a lovely garden full of flowers, from which you get a glimpse of the sea. Then we went to the Upchers at Sheringham Hall. It is a pretty place, so wooded and with such lovely views. From the drawing room window you see big trees on the lawn, and between the trees and the lawn, the sea. Mr and Mrs Upcher were very nice. We drove through the park home.
We all went to the Salvation Army after tea, and were very much impressed, though they did rant rather. What took away the impression they had made on me was the captain, who sang a hymn in a music hall manner about, ‘We shall have a mansion there.’ Ready furnished, a nice freehold lot, which made me perfectly mad. The de Morgan contingent and Chec, went to the barracks, and the rest of us walked over Woman’s Hythe. The lothers were very impressed by the barracks, and would have been converted had they stayed long enough. It was, they said, far more impressive than a church”

August 31st: “ We went to the entertainment at the Lobster after supper, which was quite one of the most amusing I have ever been at. The fishermen’s band played to us most frightfully out of tune, a fisherman sang to us and Mr Grimes danced a hornpipe which was quite wonderful. Mr Grimes was the most amusing person there, the way he danced Sir Roger kept us in fits. We danced to both the band’s music and our own. I played a hornpipe and a lady played Waltzes. Mother and Aunt Alice crowned everything by dancing a polka together to Pop Goes The Weasel. The whole of our contingent was there and we all enjoyed it furiously.”

September 9th: “I went to Beeston Bog and made a grand find of four pieces of Lady’s tresses, just what we’ve looked for so often. After tea I walked to West Runton and inspected Beeston Church on the way, which I thought distinctly ghostly, all alone, no houses near, no road leading to it and the cliffs so near that you could hear the waves, and the sky black and stormy. I came back by the cliffs. There was rather a squeamish bit just before Woman’s Hythe, where a good deal of cliff has crumbled away and goes down very steep to the sea, while the ground above is very steep and the grass decidedly slippery. With very little difficulty I could have lost my head and slid down and nobody been any the wiser.”

September 12th: “Our last day. The day was mostly lovely, which made going away all the worse, and a fisherman said he thought it was going to be fine now. I sloped up onto Woman’s Hythe and lay on top on my back and tried to learn the view by heart. I went on to the further green hill as well, from where I could see Cromer Church.
The Salvation Army was meeting by the Coffee Tavern, so we went for the last time, and heard ‘I’m bound for the Kingdom, Won’t you go to Glory with me? Oh, Hallelujah, Praise ye the Lord!’ “

September 13th: Up at seven, breakfast soon after, and everybody very cross. Clocks all wrong, some slow, some fast, so we tore off to the station in a desperate hurry and then had 20 minutes to wait. Mrs West went with us. We all cried as we passed by the cliffs, and thought that it was all over.
We had three changes, at Melton Constable, at Lynn and at Peterborough. The rest of the way we did not stop, and had a carriage to ourselves. A most luxurious 3rd Class!”

West Beach with Bell Tents. circa 1900. Both from Sheringham Museum Collection

Victorian bathers: An unknown family on Sheringham
Beach c1890. Tim Groves Collection.

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