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Remembering Deepdene Manor

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Rosemary Outerbridge lives next door to Manor House, the property her family owned in the 1950s (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Rosemary Outerbridge playing with her son’s dog Merlin (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Rosemary Outerbridge in the 1950s with her son Dean and twins Gaye and Holly (Photograph supplied)
Rosemary Outerbridge in the Bahamas as a toddler (Photograph supplied)
Dorothy Hunter, owner of Deepdene Manor Hotel in the 1950s (Photograph supplied)

Rosemary Outerbridge lives just over the hedge from Manor House on Harrington Sound Road.

Standing in her back garden, she can see the beautifully manicured grounds, the pools, the property’s iconic bridge and tower.

Although the 93-year-old is not particularly sentimental, Manor House once played a pivotal role in her family’s history.

In 1947 her mother, Dorothy Hunter, and brother, Douglas, bought what was then Deepdene Manor, to run as a luxury hotel. It had not been occupied by its builder, wealthy American banker Clinton Ledyard Blair, in more than a decade but looked as though he had just left it.

“Their books were still in the library,” said Ms Outerbridge, who was 19 at the time. “Their china was in the kitchen cabinets. Their carriages, the whips and harnesses and everything was still in the barns. Gradually, they disappeared.

“The war was just over and people were starting to travel again. A lot of our early guests were Canadians. I helped my mother a bit, but the house was mainly run by staff.”

Deepdene was a lively place. There would often be concerts and dance recitals in the garden.

Despite that, the post-war days were not easy ones. Her brother told The Royal Gazette in May 1948 that there were not enough ships to bring visitors here, and the cost of flying was too high for the average honeymooning couple.

After 11 years, the Hunters sold the hotel.

Ms Outerbridge’s father, Albert Hunter, was English and her mother Welsh. They emigrated to Canada separately, in the 1920s, and met in Montreal. Mr Hunter was a salesman for Frontenac Breweries, a liquor company that marketed heavily to the Caribbean. The couple travelled frequently for Mr Hunter’s job.

“They were doing a circuit of Canada, Bermuda and Nassau, Bahamas,” Ms Outerbridge said. “I have two older brothers. I was the only one born in Bermuda.”

When she was three years old, on the way back from a stay in Nassau, her parents split up. Her father went back to Canada, and her mother settled here.

At a time when few women had careers other than nursing and teaching, Mrs Hunter managed the New Windsor Hotel in Hamilton, and Harrington House in Bailey’s Bay.

Ms Outerbridge and her mother became great friends with another Welsh family. Idwal and Winifred Hughes, parents of the former senator Walwyn Hughes, lived near the Public Works quarry.

She remembers watching prisoners being brought down in an open truck to work in the quarry. The Second World War was then raging and Kindley Air Force Base was under construction; American soldiers were housed in tents on the Castle Harbour Golf Course.

The higher-ups in the army would frequent Harrington House for dinner.

While at student at Bermuda High School for Girls Ms Outerbridge would have to make a considerable effort each day.

“I used to ride a bike to get to the station in Bailey’s Bay to get on the train, and then get off at BAA on Woodlands Road,” she said.

When the journey got to be too much she bunked with a family on Pitts Bay Road during the week.

“That didn’t last long though. I missed my mother, I guess,” said Ms Outerbridge who was often left in the care of servants.

“My mother was a very interesting person and had a great personality to run a hotel but I have often thought that she was not a very good mother.”

In her mid-teens, Ms Outerbridge was sent to boarding school in Ontario, Canada where she met her father for the first time since she was a toddler.

“I wanted to meet him,” she said. “He was very, very nice. We went to the movies together in Montreal. I really wanted to hold on to him, but when my mother heard about it she raised hell."

After graduating from Ontario Ladies College in Whitby she returned home, shortly before her mother bought Deepdene Manor.

The Hughes family intervened in her life once again, when they took her to the Shelly Bay Race Track one New Year’s Day.

“Back then, we often went to the racetrack on New Year’s Day,” she said. “The Hughes introduced me to my future husband, Kimball Thomas Jay Outerbridge. We called him Jay.”

Mr Outerbridge lived on Radnor Road in Hamilton Parish and had a fancy motorcycle.

“His parents were farmers,” Ms Outerbridge said. “He would ride to my house or I would pedal my bike to see him.”

They were married in 1950 in the garden at Deepdene Manor Hotel, and moved into a cottage on the property. The cottage seemed cosy until their son Dean and twins Gaye Wheatley and Holly Barrow came along.

“I had three children under the age of two,” Ms Outerbridge said. “My mother wanted me to keep the children quiet and out of the sight of the hotel guests.”

After a few years they moved to a property next door where another son, Mark, was born.

Mr Outerbridge worked in the travel industry for Air Canada and Penboss Associates. The couple loved travelling together. A trip to Bethlehem, Israel was a favourite.

“He was a quiet man, but very well known and well liked,” Ms Outerbridge said. “When he died [in 1993], many people came to his funeral.”

Her brother started Bermuda Glass in 1970 on North Street in Hamilton.

Prior to that, it was impossible to get glass repaired here. Mr Hunter imported sheets of glass that were used for everything from storefronts to picture frames and mirrors.

“His shop was located across from Dellwood Middle School,” Ms Outerbridge said. “I helped him there for years. I learnt how to cut the glass for pictures frames and other items. It was interesting.”

Larry Davis eventually took over Bermuda Glass; the company was later sold to Baptise Builders.

Today, Ms Outerbridge loves playing solitaire on the computer and watching television. She also loves the company of her son Mark’s collie Merlin. She can not drive any more, but she is grateful for all she has.

“I’m lucky, I guess,” she said.

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published June 13, 2021 at 9:04 am (Updated June 13, 2021 at 9:04 am)

Remembering Deepdene Manor

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