The Orrery Cafe

'A little bit of heaven in the heart of Ryde'

 

It can be a curious visit to No 15 Union Street!

 

Please note that owners Greaves & Thomas who created the Alice themed interior have agreed to lease the ( Orrery) Cafe and Ex-Museum area to

Mr Nick Robinson of Joe's while we develop our retail courtyard inbetween Straw Bonnet and Ryde Jewellers. Part of the lease agreement is that

The Alice Murals, Planetarium and Bar cannot be altered, so we will leave this web site up and running until a new website is made.

 

 

 

<img height=573 src="images-Orrery/CAFE%20EXTERIOR_2007.jpg" width=394 border=3 alt="The Orrery cafe is located at 15 Union st ryde, it has a very fine planetarium of our solar system which is geared so that the planets all orbit the sun , the cafe is theemed with Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass art work on the cafe walls, but why do you ask this? whay would a planetarium have images of a known childrens book on the walls and ceiling? This is because of a recent theory that convincingly shows that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), used the known constellations of the nights sky as inspiration for their Alice Books. So this is why Alice and friends have taken up residence in the Orrery Cafe in Ryde! The cafe is Vegetarian, and there are other Alice related items to be found when  you visit the cafe, the floor is a giant chess board, which true to form get smaller when you decend the spiral staircase to the basement floor, here the tiles shrink, and upon entering the two loos, they shrink yet again, also when decending the Orrery staircase  one passes a large light which looks like a giant jar of marmalade. The cafe is the first stage of converting a derelict building which has been vacant for many years and it is our hope to transform the whole building into a fun globe museum with one of the largest optical illusions in the country. The planetarium is over 16 ft diameter and is best viewed through the 8 mirrored top tables actually reveal 8 far finer plaetariums by looking through the tables a far superior vantage point of the Orrery's planetariums. Thank you for your interest, we hope one day you might consider journeying across the Solent so that you can see the Orrery first hand.">

Interior of 'The Orrery' with the planetariums Sun completely bright.

In 1873 Ryde's own circular "The Ventilator' commented on a new imposing building that was being built in Union Street , the towns rural idyll was being undermined by brewer James Chiverton, his building located at No. 15 was similar to a classic Greek temple and was ruffling feathers, it was suggested that one would not be able to journey down Union Street without thinking of Pan, the Bacchic Orgies and the Eleusinian Mysteries.

 

Time has moved on and James' building is still stands ( he left mysteriously in 1887) since then it has sold prams, was a general arcade and then left derelict for many years. Today it is probably one of the most curious places to visit on the island let alone in Ryde, for beyond its classical portico you will find a yourself standing inside a cleverly constructed working model of our universe, an illuminated sun resides and shines above you and surrounding it the solar system planets rotate in their individual orbits, the cafe's walls are illustrated but not with the traditional mythical constellations there is a twist, the figurative constellations depict with pertinence the characters from Alice ( Virgo = Alice, Gemini =Tweedledum - dee etc.). Created by James Bissell-Thomas who purchased the building in 1999 and moved his acclaimed Globemaking business Greaves & Thomas to the rear of the building. The cafe also boasts one of the finest Victorian chemist counters which once graced Bately' s in Cross St, some of James' smaller globes are also displayed here though his website www.globemakers.com shows the truly diverse collection.

 

 

<img height=573 src="images-Orrery/CAFE%20EXTERIOR_2007.jpg" width=394 border=3 alt="The Orrery cafe is located at 15 Union st ryde, it has a very fine planetarium of our solar system which is geared so that the planets all orbit the sun , the cafe is theemed with Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass art work on the cafe walls, but why do you ask this? whay would a planetarium have images of a known childrens book on the walls and ceiling? This is because of a recent theory that convincingly shows that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), used the known constellations of the nights sky as inspiration for their Alice Books. So this is why Alice and friends have taken up residence in the Orrery Cafe in Ryde! The cafe is Vegetarian, and there are other Alice related items to be found when  you visit the cafe, the floor is a giant chess board, which true to form get smaller when you decend the spiral staircase to the basement floor, here the tiles shrink, and upon entering the two loos, they shrink yet again, also when decending the Orrery staircase  one passes a large light which looks like a giant jar of marmalade. The cafe is the first stage of converting a derelict building which has been vacant for many years and it is our hope to transform the whole building into a fun globe museum with one of the largest optical illusions in the country. The planetarium is over 16 ft diameter and is best viewed through the 8 mirrored top tables actually reveal 8 far finer plaetariums by looking through the tables a far superior vantage point of the Orrery's planetariums. Thank you for your interest, we hope one day you might consider journeying across the Solent so that you can see the Orrery first hand.">

Interior showing planetariums Sun with mid brightness

 

Initially it was James' intention to set up a Globe museum beyond the Orrery Cafe however being located in a seaside town he believed the space would be better suited as a museum dedicated to the Seaside Postcard. His research time and time again would lead to Donald McGill who was crowned in his own lifetime as the King of the Seaside Postcard, Donald specialised in comical cards which were superior to rival card illustrators as his clever wit and fine artistic hand would deftly record all aspects of the 20th century through over 12,000 artworks. The shrine James has created is a must for anyone who is interested in art and social history as you will find all manner of subjects portrayed in his work: Inventions; Suffragettes; 2 World Wars; Marriage; Hen Pecked Husbands; Gambling; Fashions; Children; Lovers; Marriage and requisit Sauce. The Museum also focuses on the trials an tribulations Donald Experienced as he was unfairly prosecuted by the Government in 1954, once year earlier numerous seaside towns including Ryde experienced police raids on shops and in Ryde over 5,000 cards were seized the shopkeepers were fined under the 1857 Obsenity act and over 3,000 cards were destroyed. If you look at the cards today you will be surprised what was all the fuss about, but times have changed a lot since them. The McGill museum is one of the cheapest attractions on the island and probably one of the funniest.

At the Orrery, time moves quickly, as the planet Earth takes just one minute to orbit its Sun. The muralled art work in the orrery is celestial and all the stars of the ceiling and the upper parts of the Orrery's walls are lit by fibre optic cable (over 90,000 ft!), these stars shine when a coin is donated towards the proposed museum, the celestial artwork is figurative but a with a difference, instead of traditional figures for the 12 Zodiac figures as well as the figures that surround Zodiac, you will find that the Orrery's artwork features the characters from Lewis Carrolls famous 2 books Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, and is based on a recent theory that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) used the known constellations of the heavens as reference for his Alice books. More about this unusual theory can be found on the Greaves & Thomas website.

 

Surprisingly, while many people agree that the Orrery has one of the finest planetariums to be found in the United Kingdom, we believe there are eight finer planetariums to be found within the Orrery cafe itself! This is because we have made all the cafe tables with mirrored surfaces, thus when you look through the mirrored table at the planetarium, because the mirror enhances an illusion of depth, the planetarium appears to have a more three dimensional quality and thru the mirror they also appear to defy gravity! The planetarium is activated by inserting a coin into what is now known as 'The God Slot', here you can literally be a Master of the Universe and control the brightness of the Sun, make the planets move and lastly make the stars shine.

 

<img height=573 src="images-Orrery/CAFE%20EXTERIOR_2007.jpg" width=394 border=3 alt="The Orrery cafe is located at 15 Union st ryde, it has a very fine planetarium of our solar system which is geared so that the planets all orbit the sun , the cafe is theemed with Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass art work on the cafe walls, but why do you ask this? whay would a planetarium have images of a known childrens book on the walls and ceiling? This is because of a recent theory that convincingly shows that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), used the known constellations of the nights sky as inspiration for their Alice Books. So this is why Alice and friends have taken up residence in the Orrery Cafe in Ryde! The cafe is Vegetarian, and there are other Alice related items to be found when  you visit the cafe, the floor is a giant chess board, which true to form get smaller when you decend the spiral staircase to the basement floor, here the tiles shrink, and upon entering the two loos, they shrink yet again, also when decending the Orrery staircase  one passes a large light which looks like a giant jar of marmalade. The cafe is the first stage of converting a derelict building which has been vacant for many years and it is our hope to transform the whole building into a fun globe museum with one of the largest optical illusions in the country. The planetarium is over 16 ft diameter and is best viewed through the 8 mirrored top tables actually reveal 8 far finer plaetariums by looking through the tables a far superior vantage point of the Orrery's planetariums. Thank you for your interest, we hope one day you might consider journeying across the Solent so that you can see the Orrery first hand.">

Planetarium as viewed through the Orrery Cafe's tables.

The Orrery cafe was destined to have white marble topped tables, however, when visiting Venice, we decided to have tea in the Hotel des Bains (location for the film 'Death in Venice'), here we marvelled at their mirrored tables, which despite being made in the 1920's, showed very little wear. It was only when we placed the mirrored tables below the planetarium that we realised that by default we had created something out of the norm.

<img height=573 src="images-Orrery/CAFE%20EXTERIOR_2007.jpg" width=394 border=3 alt="The Orrery cafe is located at 15 Union st ryde, it has a very fine planetarium of our solar system which is geared so that the planets all orbit the sun , the cafe is theemed with Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass art work on the cafe walls, but why do you ask this? whay would a planetarium have images of a known childrens book on the walls and ceiling? This is because of a recent theory that convincingly shows that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), used the known constellations of the nights sky as inspiration for their Alice Books. So this is why Alice and friends have taken up residence in the Orrery Cafe in Ryde! The cafe is Vegetarian, and there are other Alice related items to be found when  you visit the cafe, the floor is a giant chess board, which true to form get smaller when you decend the spiral staircase to the basement floor, here the tiles shrink, and upon entering the two loos, they shrink yet again, also when decending the Orrery staircase  one passes a large light which looks like a giant jar of marmalade. The cafe is the first stage of converting a derelict building which has been vacant for many years and it is our hope to transform the whole building into a fun globe museum with one of the largest optical illusions in the country. The planetarium is over 16 ft diameter and is best viewed through the 8 mirrored top tables actually reveal 8 far finer plaetariums by looking through the tables a far superior vantage point of the Orrery's planetariums. Thank you for your interest, we hope one day you might consider journeying across the Solent so that you can see the Orrery first hand.">

Planetarium at night with minimum internal light, note the fibre optic stars are illuminated.

The building for the Orrery Cafe and Donald McGill Postcard Museum was a beautiful neglected building and now has been transformed into an amusing attraction on the Isle of Wight.

 <img height=573 src="images-Orrery/CAFE%20EXTERIOR_2007.jpg" width=394 border=3 alt="The Orrery cafe is located at 15 Union st ryde, it has a very fine planetarium of our solar system which is geared so that the planets all orbit the sun , the cafe is theemed with Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass art work on the cafe walls, but why do you ask this? whay would a planetarium have images of a known childrens book on the walls and ceiling? This is because of a recent theory that convincingly shows that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), used the known constellations of the nights sky as inspiration for their Alice Books. So this is why Alice and friends have taken up residence in the Orrery Cafe in Ryde! The cafe is Vegetarian, and there are other Alice related items to be found when  you visit the cafe, the floor is a giant chess board, which true to form get smaller when you decend the spiral staircase to the basement floor, here the tiles shrink, and upon entering the two loos, they shrink yet again, also when decending the Orrery staircase  one passes a large light which looks like a giant jar of marmalade. The cafe is the first stage of converting a derelict building which has been vacant for many years and it is our hope to transform the whole building into a fun globe museum with one of the largest optical illusions in the country. The planetarium is over 16 ft diameter and is best viewed through the 8 mirrored top tables actually reveal 8 far finer plaetariums by looking through the tables a far superior vantage point of the Orrery's planetariums. Thank you for your interest, we hope one day you might consider journeying across the Solent so that you can see the Orrery first hand.">

A Hermetic Globe hangs outside the Orrery recording the day it was made 06/06/06. The Globe has now been updated and additional figures are now in evidence.

Outside the Orrery hangs an illusion which is often called "The Wonder of Ryde" as it appears to be a mirror ball which does not reflect, instead it reflects the street on the day it was made (June 2006), on this day members of the Isle of Wight Austin Club kindly parked their cherished automobiles in Union Street so that they could also be recorded by the Hermetic Globe, Sir Partick Moore also kindly agreed to be photographed, so that when you look up at the globe, your reflection is replaced by Sir Patricks, who is smiling and waving back at you. Also a kind policeman, granted consent for the Union Street traffic to be halted, to the Greaves & Thomas 1957 delivery van could be postioned and photographed driving up union street which is normally a one way street.

 

This unusual globe has now been updated to show Donald McGill and some of his characters, Two Dinosaurs - creating havock on the high street. Lastly, we have inserted Matt an island food critic, who in 2006 had a bit of banter with the Orrery, for this reason we have immortalised him in the Hermetic Globe, for more information visit the Matt and Cat website, Matt actually agreed to come and pose for the imagery, but he always could not make the appointed time, so due to his unreliability, we have made our own rendition of him.

 

 

Available for hire for birthdays, parties etc.

 

Please Note that this information is pre June 2014 and should only be used as reference.

 

Questions and Answers:

 

Q: In the Orrery, I am sure I have seen your fantastic counter before!

A: Well this is not an easy question to answer as it is an amalgam of numerous bits and bobs: The first five foot of it was once the chemist counter from Blakelys Chemist in Cross St Ryde.

<img height=573 src="images-Orrery/CAFE%20EXTERIOR_2007.jpg" width=394 border=3 alt="The Orrery cafe is located at 15 Union st ryde, it has a very fine planetarium of our solar system which is geared so that the planets all orbit the sun , the cafe is theemed with Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass art work on the cafe walls, but why do you ask this? whay would a planetarium have images of a known childrens book on the walls and ceiling? This is because of a recent theory that convincingly shows that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), used the known constellations of the nights sky as inspiration for their Alice Books. So this is why Alice and friends have taken up residence in the Orrery Cafe in Ryde! The cafe is Vegetarian, and there are other Alice related items to be found when  you visit the cafe, the floor is a giant chess board, which true to form get smaller when you decend the spiral staircase to the basement floor, here the tiles shrink, and upon entering the two loos, they shrink yet again, also when decending the Orrery staircase  one passes a large light which looks like a giant jar of marmalade. The cafe is the first stage of converting a derelict building which has been vacant for many years and it is our hope to transform the whole building into a fun globe museum with one of the largest optical illusions in the country. The planetarium is over 16 ft diameter and is best viewed through the 8 mirrored top tables actually reveal 8 far finer plaetariums by looking through the tables a far superior vantage point of the Orrery's planetariums. Thank you for your interest, we hope one day you might consider journeying across the Solent so that you can see the Orrery first hand.">

We have extended it by a further 11 feet using all manner of reclaimed mahogany, including an old wardrobes etc.

<img height=573 src="images-Orrery/CAFE%20EXTERIOR_2007.jpg" width=394 border=3 alt="The Orrery cafe is located at 15 Union st ryde, it has a very fine planetarium of our solar system which is geared so that the planets all orbit the sun , the cafe is theemed with Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass art work on the cafe walls, but why do you ask this? whay would a planetarium have images of a known childrens book on the walls and ceiling? This is because of a recent theory that convincingly shows that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), used the known constellations of the nights sky as inspiration for their Alice Books. So this is why Alice and friends have taken up residence in the Orrery Cafe in Ryde! The cafe is Vegetarian, and there are other Alice related items to be found when  you visit the cafe, the floor is a giant chess board, which true to form get smaller when you decend the spiral staircase to the basement floor, here the tiles shrink, and upon entering the two loos, they shrink yet again, also when decending the Orrery staircase  one passes a large light which looks like a giant jar of marmalade. The cafe is the first stage of converting a derelict building which has been vacant for many years and it is our hope to transform the whole building into a fun globe museum with one of the largest optical illusions in the country. The planetarium is over 16 ft diameter and is best viewed through the 8 mirrored top tables actually reveal 8 far finer plaetariums by looking through the tables a far superior vantage point of the Orrery's planetariums. Thank you for your interest, we hope one day you might consider journeying across the Solent so that you can see the Orrery first hand.">

The tier shelf that displays some Greaves & Thomas globes was once a circular filing cabinet for a marine company in London.

<img height=573 src="images-Orrery/CAFE%20EXTERIOR_2007.jpg" width=394 border=3 alt="The Orrery cafe is located at 15 Union st ryde, it has a very fine planetarium of our solar system which is geared so that the planets all orbit the sun , the cafe is theemed with Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass art work on the cafe walls, but why do you ask this? whay would a planetarium have images of a known childrens book on the walls and ceiling? This is because of a recent theory that convincingly shows that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), used the known constellations of the nights sky as inspiration for their Alice Books. So this is why Alice and friends have taken up residence in the Orrery Cafe in Ryde! The cafe is Vegetarian, and there are other Alice related items to be found when  you visit the cafe, the floor is a giant chess board, which true to form get smaller when you decend the spiral staircase to the basement floor, here the tiles shrink, and upon entering the two loos, they shrink yet again, also when decending the Orrery staircase  one passes a large light which looks like a giant jar of marmalade. The cafe is the first stage of converting a derelict building which has been vacant for many years and it is our hope to transform the whole building into a fun globe museum with one of the largest optical illusions in the country. The planetarium is over 16 ft diameter and is best viewed through the 8 mirrored top tables actually reveal 8 far finer plaetariums by looking through the tables a far superior vantage point of the Orrery's planetariums. Thank you for your interest, we hope one day you might consider journeying across the Solent so that you can see the Orrery first hand.">

The white marble counter, which keeps the pastries cool, was once the marble facade of an office block in London.

<img height=573 src="images-Orrery/CAFE%20EXTERIOR_2007.jpg" width=394 border=3 alt="The Orrery cafe is located at 15 Union st ryde, it has a very fine planetarium of our solar system which is geared so that the planets all orbit the sun , the cafe is theemed with Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass art work on the cafe walls, but why do you ask this? whay would a planetarium have images of a known childrens book on the walls and ceiling? This is because of a recent theory that convincingly shows that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), used the known constellations of the nights sky as inspiration for their Alice Books. So this is why Alice and friends have taken up residence in the Orrery Cafe in Ryde! The cafe is Vegetarian, and there are other Alice related items to be found when  you visit the cafe, the floor is a giant chess board, which true to form get smaller when you decend the spiral staircase to the basement floor, here the tiles shrink, and upon entering the two loos, they shrink yet again, also when decending the Orrery staircase  one passes a large light which looks like a giant jar of marmalade. The cafe is the first stage of converting a derelict building which has been vacant for many years and it is our hope to transform the whole building into a fun globe museum with one of the largest optical illusions in the country. The planetarium is over 16 ft diameter and is best viewed through the 8 mirrored top tables actually reveal 8 far finer plaetariums by looking through the tables a far superior vantage point of the Orrery's planetariums. Thank you for your interest, we hope one day you might consider journeying across the Solent so that you can see the Orrery first hand.">

Lastly the 4 fine carved mahogany details were kindly given to me by my next door neighbour several years ago, she knew of my plans for a museum, and thought they would be useful, when asked where she found them, she informed me that her husband loved looking in old empty buildings and found these one day. A few months later I found an early picture of the inside of 15 Union street when it was Mr Bishops Wine Merchants, here the 4 Mahogany details can be clearly seen and my neighbour was in fact returning them back to the building after over 50 years of safekeeping!

 

Q: In the Orrery, the planetarium is being held by a arm, who does this belong to?

A: Well if you know your Alice, you would know how important the Red King is, he holds all together for Alice and company, so for this reason we thought we would ask him to insert his arm through into the cafe universe and hold our planetarium, otherwise due to the rigid laws of reality the whole thing would fall crashing down onto staff and customers. We were delighted that he accepted, amazing that he can do this while dreaming of Wonderland!

 

Q: Are you not going to sell Greaves & Thomas globes from the Orrery?

A:The will be some globes on display but the best way is to view the Greaves & Thomas website and once you have made your mind up or have any questions you are best advised to email them, their website is their best info point as they have not produced a catalogue for many years.

 

Q: Does the Orrery intend to open in the evenings?

A: Yes it is our intention, however as Union St can be a bit of a riot at times, we are contemplating setting up a small club aptly named 'The Brillig' : Monday: Once a month Guest Speaker. Tuesdays: Ladies only night. Wednesdays: Traditional Games Night. Thursdays: Big Chill. Fridays: Social Saturdays: Social Sunday: Banquet once a Month...... but presently we are busy enough with London commitments so for the mean time no firm decision has been made.

 

Q: Why is there a Giant Grasshopper on the top of the building?

A: A long time ago a Grasshopper helped a musician win a competition despite the fact one of his lute strings broke, the insect landed on the sound box of the lute and started strumming its legs, the sound amplified by the sound box of the lute was so entrancing (must have sounded like modern techno music!) that it enthralled the audience and the musician then won the prize. So the grasshopper won the day by creating an illusion, consequently we have placed a grasshopper above the Orrery entrance incase you find fault with our effort, then we hope the grasshopper will once again step in and save the day.

However a bald headed coot will always try to eat grasshoppers if they can!

Find more about this beautiful ancient story here http://www.globemakers.com/hidden_meaning.html

 

Q: Are there any other Alice items in the cafe?

A: Well yes there are some more items you may be interested in, as you know the tables are glass topped, but the floor has also has been chequered like the looking glass chess board, and just like Alice if you decend to the basement, the tiles shrink, and shrink again if you then enter one of the two loos. Also as you descend the spiral staicase, which many people have referred to as "going down the rabbit hole", you will find a large jar of marmalade being used as an uplighter. Look out for a large plush sofa complete with the singing flowers and lastly a giant looking glass separates the Donald McGill Museum from the Cafe.

The Looking Glass wall and doors reflecting perfectly on the opening day of the museum.

 

 

 

Thank you for your interest!

 

 

Any more questions? info@theorrery.co.uk

 

On the 7th of January (2007) Kerry Ashmore visited the Orrery and kindly posted this review

http://www.veggieheaven.com/guide/ryde.html

Thank you Kerry!

 

On the 13th of February (2007) we were kindly reviewed by Amytheduck following 2 trips to the Orrery http://travel.ciao.co.uk/The_Orrery_Cafe__Review_5631596

Thank you Amy!

 

Island photographer Auntie P, took some stunning images of the Orrery which can be seen on her Flicker page

http://www.flickr.com/photos/auntiep/sets/72157594220720591/with/207386425/

Thank you Auntie P they way surpass our efforts!

 

*Lastly, we were delighted to find that we have been voted one of the Top 100 Best Vegetarian Resturants in the UK! A pretty amazing feat as we have recently been shut for 2 years! Clearly, we make a lasting impression.

 

Our other websites:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


">">