Events: Princess Victoria visited 30th Sept 1836 – 29 Nov 1836
Places: West Cliff House, Ramsgate
The second recorded stay in Ramsgate in Victoria’s diaries documents her time at West Cliff House, which was owned by MP John Ashley Warre. Victoria disliked the house from the outset, noting on 30th September 1836 that ‘The House is small, & anything but cheerful.’ She notes that though she can see the sea, she can see ’no harbour, no pier, & not one house; it is so dull & so cheerless.’ The Sussex Advertiser assumed a rather different viewpoint, noting that the house ‘makes-up about forty beds, having a sea view in front, with beautiful grounds and shrubbery behind and on each side; and from its standing apart from other houses, is well adapted for a Royal residence.’ Legend has it that Victoria’s beloved pet donkey died while she was staying at West Cliff House and is buried in its grounds. She apparently disliked the house for this reason though this is not mentioned in her journals nor any contemporary publications!
The visit was marred by bad weather which prevented the Royal Highnesses from taking their daily walks on the pier. Victoria describes ‘a poor french sloop laden with eggs, wrecked in the night, & one poor man was, not drowned, but crushed in a horrid manner’ (13 Oct 1836). The Standard, however reports that the man drowned after the sloop ‘struck against the pier-head in making for the harbour’ (Oct 15 1836). The remainder of her stay is spent reading, writing letters, playing the piano, singing, walking and visiting the church at St Lawrence on Sundays. She is disappointed by the readings, lamenting of one orator that ‘It is a great pity, that his delivery is so peculiar & unpleasant; he raises his voice up & down & sings in such a fatiguing manner’ while ‘Poor Mr: Lewis's delivery is really dreadful; (Mr: Sicklemore's is far, far better) he jumbles the words together; his voice is bad & nasal, & he seems short of breath; the sermon itself too, is not worth much’ (23 Oct 1836).