On the east side of Victoria Street is the three-storey stone house with known as Monte Bello Boarding House. Built around 1840-1850, it has a fascinating history. Originally erected as a lodging house for the town’s growing visitor population, in 1860, the Mercury recorded that a Russian couple were lodging at Monte Bello. Mr and Mrs Mordvinov were among a surprising number of political dissidents who frequented Ventnor that summer. By the 1871 Census, the keeper of Monte Bello was William Rayner, aged 55, assisted by his wife Emma and a nineteen-year-old servant, Alice Tehery. Rayner was the first Beadle for the Commissioners of the Local Board.
By the time of the Great War, it had been turned into a Soldiers’ Institute where men convalescing in the Undercliff from wounds incurred at the Front could visit to play billards, chess and other activities. The Institute gained a reputation among the men as a ‘Home from Home’. During this time, the property was let to Albert Bull, a local businessman, but his tenancy ceased at the end of September 1919.
In the mid-1960s, the ‘Count of Monte Bello’ showed on the scene. Sydney (Syd) Clark, who first came to the Island in the 1950s, took over the guest house. Apart from war service in the Army, he had spent all of his working life in the catering trade, notably as a barman and waiter. By the later 1980s, Syd seems to have ceased running the guest house and was working for Graham and Sue Perks at the Rose Inn. He died in September 1995.
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