The front step of Ragley in East Sooke was the scene of this historic image taken in 1927 when His Royal Highness Prince Edward visited his royal connections, Lady Emily Walker and the Reverend Reginald Walker, in their home.
The popular prince, who abdicated the British throne in 1936 and lived out his life as the Duke of Windsor, visited Sooke twice.
In 1919, the prince visited the Sooke Harbour Hotel (later Belvedere Hotel) on a cross-Canada tour, which he had taken over an entire floor of the Empress Hotel in Victoria to attend a glamorous ball held in his honour. On that occasion, he was accompanied by his brother Bertie, who later became King George VI.
We have heard that Lady Emily Walker attended the ball as his guest and was possibly the object of some concern from other female guests at the number of dances she shared with the prince.
Sitting on the steps with the prince was four-year-old Reggie Caffery, grandson of Lady Emily, who was the son of Margaret Walker and Frank Caffery.
Many years later, when we got to know Margaret Walker Caffery (later Derbyshire in her second marriage), she explained that her little Reggie had asked if he could have a pillow fight with the prince, which did indeed take place.
Lady Emily, who was born into Britain’s illustrious Seymour family, had been a close friend of King George V. When his father King Edward VII did in 1910, he ascended the throne with his wife, the stately Queen Mary. Then, Lady Emily and her husband, Rev. Reginald, left England for this far off outpost of Empire.
Five children were born to Lady Emily while they were in England: Seymour, Rupert, Margaret, Eric and Lionel.
Margaret Walker Caffery had two children, Reggie as pictured, and his younger sister Kathleen “Kay,” whom many of us got to know as Kay Coates Jeffery, as she raised her large family in this community.
The family’s East Sooke home was called Ragley after the Seymour family’s 40-room estate, Ragley Hall, in Warwickshire, established in the 17th century.
While East Sooke’s Ragley has had several modifications over the years, it is currently owned by Rob and Josie Hill, who regard the historic building with the greatest respect.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.