To: Miss N Holman, C/o Samuel Hall, High St, Local
Business to morrow very possible there to night
[Gabrielle Ray, born Gabrielle Elizabeth Clifford Cook, was an Edwardian actress, dancer and singer from Cheadle in Cheshire. She starred in West End musicals such as The Orchid (singing The Pink Pyjama Girl whilst dancing in pink pyjamas, apparently), Lady Madcap, The Little Cherub, The Merry Widow, The Dollar Princess and Peggy. She was the supermodel of her day, hugely photographed, with admirers such as Alfred Vanderbilt and King Manuel of Portugal. Following a short marriage and a fading career, she went through a period of depression and alcohol abuse ending in mental breakdown. Gabrielle Ray was institutionalised in 1936, dying in Holloway Sanatorium in Egham in 1973, aged 90. There’s a biographic website dedicated to Ray (www.gabrielleray.com) and another which has an amazing collection of around 700 Gabrielle Ray postcards (www.gabrielleray.co.uk).
Samuel Hall (1841-1921) is also interesting. From a (presumably well-to-do) Pembrokeshire family, he was related to Benjamin Hall (1802-1867), Lord Llanover of Llanover and Abercarn, after whom Big Ben in the Palace of Westminster may be named. Samuel was the eponymous proprietor of a drapery store in High Street, Cardiff, owning houses at Tynewydd, St Bride’s-super-Ely in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Ivy Tower, St Florence, near Tenby. He is buried in Carew Cheriton church in Pembrokeshire. The shop is mentioned in an article in Wales Online in 2012 “Beryl Tobin, nee Corbin, worked at Samuel Hall in High Street, Cardiff, between 1945-1949 and writes: “It was a high class shop in those days and my wages were four shillings and 11½d a week. There was a door in our work room that you could go out of and walk the glass domes in the arcade roof, and being the youngest I was sent all over the place, mainly for matching cottons. My favourite shop was in Paradise Place off Queen Street by the Taff Vale pub.”” The shop was at 8-10 High Street, adjacent to High Street Arcade.]