Grand Russian High Tea Book launch raises over £1,000 for Island charities
Hosted by Lady Cheshire and Lady Grylls, a Grand Russian High Tea at the Royal Hotel was to launch Stephan Roman’s new book ‘Isle and Empires’ and to raise money for Mountbatten and Dementia UK Admiral Nurses IW.
Guests were greeted with a Russian Spring Punch cocktail, made with Mermaid Salt Vodka courtesy of the Isle of Wight Distillery, Rachmaninov from Simon Davis on piano, and a real Russian samovar loaned by the Leconfield Hotel. Once seated guests were treated to a cornucopia of Russian-themed scones, cakes and delicacies, designed by Ben Chamberlain and his team, whilst sipping Russian and English teas.
Grand Duchess Marie, daughter of Alexander II of Russia (played by actress Helen Reading), made a surprise appearance, amusing guests with tales of her mother-in-law Queen ‘Vicboria’ (sic) and the dreary nature of the court at Osborne in the late 1800s, and her story – she was married to Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria’s second son.
Master of Ceremonies Paul Armfield introduced the author, Stephan Roman, who described his own grandparents’ exodus from Russia; a perilous journey that was almost thwarted by the Russian guards. Stephan then spoke about the Isle of Wight’s role in Anglo-Russian relations – especially how refugees and dissidents from Tsarist Russia gathered in Ventnor during the summer months from 1860 onwards to plot against the ruling classes in their homeland.
An alternative, more radical Russia emerged in Ventnor at the same time as the Romanov royals were visiting their relatives at Osborne just 14 miles away. Russian revolutionaries such as Alexander Herzen and Ivan Turgenev cultivated a summer colony within the seaside town, debating, arguing, and framing new ideas about their homeland. But this was not without risk, and Okhrana spies were frequently suspected of following these free-thinking Russian communities to the Island.
Publisher Peter Harrigan said:
“The Russian Tea Party at Ventnor’s Royal Hotel was a colourful, elegant and delicious celebration of the publication of ‘Isle and Empires’ in which author Stephan Roman examines the historic Russian links with the Isle of Wight including extraordinary ties with Ventnor. We’re delighted that the event also raised funds for two worthy IoW charities Mountbatten and Dementia UK Admiral Nurses IW.”
The silent auction raised £1,000, which was split between Mountbatten and Dementia UK Admiral Nurses IW. Bids included a framed photograph of Queen Victoria with Nicholas II given by the K1 Britannia shop in Cowes, books given by Medina Publishing, nautical themed cushions from www.xvstripes.com in Yarmouth, bottles of spirits from www.isleofwightdistillery.com, a goody bag of skincare products from www.rhodesskincare.com, breakfast for four at www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk with hamper, lunch for two with drinks at www.briddlesford.co.uk/bluebells, a beautiful bouquet in vase from www.wildfloristwild.com, a voucher for Hursts and a cream tea for two at The Old Smithy. Table favours were given by Sweets and Treats of Cowes.
Published by Peter Harrigan of Medina Publishing, ‘Isle and Empires’ is £20 from Medina Bookshop, High Street, Cowes, and www.medinapublishing.com