The Countess of Wessex was anything but ‘not amused’ this week when she was welcomed to a royal engagement by a Queen Victoria impersonator. The brush with her husband’s great, great, great, great grandmother came as Sophie officially opened a newly restored chapel in Hampshire.
The building is at the Royal Victoria Park in Netley near Southampton, and it’s been brought back to life in a project costing £3.5 million. The chapel was once part of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital, named after the great Queen herself who visited the site in 1856 to lay the foundation stone. The building which followed was once the longest in the world and was built with thirty million bricks. Originally designed to help look after soldiers injured in the Crimean War, it went on to treat tens of thousands of military personnel and became a research centre for typhoid. However, it fell into disrepair and ended up being knocked down. The chapel is the only remaining part of the original site.
To reinforce the historic links, the Countess of Wessex unveiled a plaque in memory of those who worked and were treated there. Sophie was given a tour of the newly restored chapel before signing a scroll which was placed in a time capsule that she then helped bury. And as well as her close encounter of the Victorian kind, she also met local school children as well as many of those involved in the restoration and development of the chapel.
Later Sophie headed to Southampton for the annual conference of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations. The Countess is the patron of the organisation which helps bring together all those planning and running country shows. At this year’s conference, Sophie listened to a range of speakers, chaired a debate and presented an award named after her which recognises ideas and innovations to help show organisers save time and money.