Rosetta Cottage, Cowes - a little history

This is marker pen sketch of the beautiful Rosetta Cottage, right on the seafront at Queen’s Road, Cowes.

According to a leaflet Bricks and Mortar, Rosetta Cottage was once a works office for a local rope maker who built a 1,000 ft long rope walk which ran east along what is now Queens Road (a ropewalk is a long straight narrow pathway where strands of material are laid out to be twisted into rope)

The first known occupant for Rosetta House was Robert Dambrill, a retired master mariner from Newfoundland, Canada. Robert lived there with his wife Jane and daughters Louisa and Emily, all from Cheshire/Lancashire. The 1871 records the address as Solent Cottage, however various electoral roles 1866-75 record the Dambrills living at Rosetta, freehold house and land. Jane died in 1878, and Robert in 1880.


In 1873, Rosetta was rented for Cowes Week by Mr Leonard Jerome, the millionaire proprietor of the New York Times. The family were invited to an afternoon ball on the guard ship HMS Ariadne which was anchored off Cowes. Jennie, eldest daughter of Jerome, danced with Lord Randolph Churchill. Churchill proposed just 3 days later, they were married the next year and Winston Churchill was born later that year.

By 1881, Robert Dambrill’s son William W Dambrill, a retired silk thrower had moved down from Cheshire to live at Rosetta with his wife Marianne and daughter Amy. They remained at Rosetta until at least 1891, but when William died in 1895, Marianne and daughter Amy moved to Melville Street, Ryde to live with Marianne’s brother from at least 1901 to 1911.

In 1901 Rosetta Cottage was empty and ready to be let furnished. In 1908 it was occupied by General and Lady Barbara Chetwynd-Stapylton during regatta week.

By 1909 Captain Spencer de Horsey lived at Rosetta House with his wife Cecila Jane, and whilst living there they had two children. Spencer Victor York de Horsey, born in Cowes, was the son of Algernon de Horsey, a naval admiral and owner of nearby Melcombe House, Queens Road (now apartments). Admiral Sir Algernon Frederick Rous de Horsey KCB was a notable Admiral in the Royal Nay and was ADC to Queen Victoria from 1871 to 1875, chairman of the Isle of Wight magistrates for many years and also Deputy Lieutenant of the Island in 1913. Algernon De Horsey was an early campaigner for a Cowes Harbour breakwater and published a booklet, ‘Proposed Breakwater for Cowes Harbour and and suggestions for the establishment of a Harbour Board,’, 1894.

Grace Adeline Rouse Hotham lived at Rosetta in the 1930s with her daughter Rachel, a theological tutor. Grace was the daughter of Admiral Sir Algernon, and having been married to a Naval Captain Algernon Hotham, she was a widow by 1939.

Rosetta is now split into Rosetta cottage and East Rosetta Rosetta and both are magnificent holiday rental cottages, available to rent through the National Trust.

Please read more about the history of Cowes buildings with more illustrations on our page Cowes History.

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