Many Ventnor people remember ‘Honeythorne’ on the Esplanade with its display of music notes on the garden wall, seen in the photo below on a glorious sunny Ventnor day in about 1980.
The house became the home of Victor and Molly Fleming after they came to Ventnor in 1948. Victor was a well known musician, co-founder of the Welsh Opera Company, and a conductor with the Midland Symphony Orchestra and the British Concert Orchestra, giving concerts the length and breadth of the country.
Victor served as a member of Ventnor Town Council, and was Mayor in 1979/80, while Molly ran Honeythorne as The Hotel with the Personal Touch. When he retired in 1984 Victor donated his entire collection of music and orchestral scores to Ventnor Library, where it formed the nucleus of a music library, which became the Island’s only music collection, with some 30,000 pieces ranging from works of the classical composers through Broadway musicals to the songs of music hall.
Although the house is now a sad ruin, the garden wall gone and replaced rough barriers, the Society saved one of the sets of decorative notes which used to adorn the railings, and have kept them in storage in the museum for many years, although sadly not on view due to lack of space.
We are delighted to announce that due to generosity of Society members, we have now raised the money to display the notes once more, on a new set of railings to be installed at the Grove Road side of the Heritage Centre. We are hoping that, with the help of our good friend Graham Potter at the Bonchurch Forge, the notes will be back in public view by Carnival week, where they can be enjoyed/admired by Ventnor residents and visitors, as originally intended.
Lesley Telford, Ventnor & District Local History Society. This article was first published in the South Wight Chronicle in August 2016.