ID: WW01_111 / Winifred Hone

TitleArthur & Ruby Dale - Winifred Hone memoirs
AbstractFreddy Bird, Arthur Hempstead, Chaworth-Musters, B. Keenlyside, P. Musters, W. Tawnton, H. Summerville, May Maude Duprey

Sing songs were very pleasant to remember, we had quite a few customers who had nice baritone and base voices, it was never difficult to get together and enjoy ballards, some of them 20 years old, round the piano. They always came up fresh and new and very enjoyable, usually in the winter when everything was desolate and lonely.

Arthur & Ruby Dale, who I first met in 1920, used to have a furnished home on the Island for the Summer. At a later date they bought my Mother's house at the Square and lived there permanently. Ruby Dale was dark vivacious and really beautiful and possessed a trained contralto voice, so it was not surprising that she was acquainted with the whole repertoire of Opera, and one of the pastimes was to burlesque some of these musical masterpieces with the aid of her husband and brother-in-law Donald.
Arthur Hempstead used to render 'Under the Deodar' from the musical comedy 'Florodora' to the acclaim of those present. When the ballroom was built, organised musical evenings frequently took place with the help of voluntary well-known professionals. May Maude Dupre, who had made her name in the London Music Halls and was known as 'The Jolly Dutch Girl' was always willing to make these events enjoyable and used to bring the house down with a song that her husband had written for her called
'My Home in West Mersea,
Right near the Victory'

Another person who used to make these evenings a success was Freddy Bird, well known in Colchester professionally with his monologs and songs in Essex dialect. One of these most amusing about a man who went to Hospital and said he had the gravel, which created a terrible mix up as it was intended for the drive and not for treatment. He created hysteria amongst his audiences, as a contrast he would sing a sentimental song that would bring tears to your eyes. He seemed a very happy person but at a later date decided there was nothing to live for and ended his life, which was a terrible shock to all who knew him well.

Another contributor to these eveings Major Chaworth-Musters had one speciality which he would render under great pressure - the song 'You can't have bread with one fish ball', everybody joining in the chorus and many requests for a repeat.

'Tableau Vivants'

Mesdames Biddy Keenlyside, Popsy Chaworth-Musters, Helen Summerville, Wendy Taunton and the wife of Nicholas the well known Essex Cricketer could create a living picture in costume, mostly amoral, that credited great applause.

Debating sessions another winter activity, on one occasion the subject being debated - were Victorian costumes more attractive than modern clothes. Later in the evening Biddy Keenlyside and Popsy Musters suddenly arrived in Ascot turnouts of Victorian days, large hats, sunshades and gloves, the frocks were of grey gauze and pink bombazine making a most delightful picture as they were petite and very pretty. Needless to say Victoriana won the day.

AuthorWinifred Hone
SourceMersea Museum / Wendy Brady