Thomas Thornton’s Trip to France – 1802

Thomas Thornton - Copy

Frontispiece to ‘A Sporting Tour through Various Parts of France, in the Year 1802’ by Colonel Thomas Thornton

Colonel Thomas Thornton was a keen hunter.  To France he would go, to hunt and kill wolves, foxes, wild boar and virtually anything with wings.  To reach France for his hunting holiday, Colonel Thornton travelled from his home in Yorkshire to take ship at Brighton.  He was not impressed by the town: Continue reading

‘Madame’ this and ‘Maison’ that (2)

In 1951 this lovely lass was employed behind the counter of Maison Francis. Meet Christine Biffen.

Mum at work 1951 lower quality

(c) David Ransom

Good to see the range of French products on sale: Chanel, Worth and Innoxa.

Later, Christine went to work in a salon in Rottingdean and then she married Colin Ransom and became David’s mum.

In 2019, the beauty salon at 26 Western Road, Hove, paid tribute to its doorstep by changing its name to simply …

Maison former Maison Francis

Many thanks to David Ransom for information about and the photo of his mum.

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Champions all

“The French team which will take part in the annual athletic contest between France and England, to be held at Preston Park on Saturday, will leave Paris on Saturday morning and proceed via Dieppe and Newhaven”

… and here is the team in their rather natty shorts:

The French Team 1925

France – Angleterre, défilé de l’équipe de France. Source gallica.bnf.fr / BnF

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J’♥ la France – the Hove way

♥ Since the 1920s, fewer and fewer buildings in Hove have borne French names – alas, many have been Anglicised, with two laudable exceptions.  Where did these names come from?  I’d love to know.

Normandy House 1 - Copy - Copy.JPGNormandy House, at 18 The Drive was first occupied in the early 1960s.

Who chose the name and why? 
 

 

Brittany Court 2In 1928, Brittany Road was no more than a building site, with several new houses under construction.  The following year, two of the houses were finished and had been given French names, St Brieuc and St Malo.  By 1930, one more Francophile owner had given his house an appropriate name, Bretagne and Britanny Court, recently completed at 134 New Church road, had its first occupants.

The boat looks somewhat like one of the ships that raided Brighton in 1514.  Did they come from Brittany?

Lorraine Court - Copy

Lorraine Court, at 61 Osborne Villas, was built in the late 1950s on land that had, until then, been the back gardens of houses in Medina Villas.  Not to be confused with Lorraine Court in Davigdor Road, Brighton. Could this be a tribute to General de Gaulle’s croix de Lorraine [cross of Lorraine], symbol for the Free French Forces during WW2?

Paris HouseThere is no mystery about the name of Paris House at 3 Wilbury Villas, just by the railway bridge. The building firm of H. J. Paris took over the premises early in the 1950s.  It was perhaps this company which built the modern, rather bland, brick block which stands there now.  The firm lasted into the 1980s, but has since disappeared from directories.  Not to be confused with The Paris House pub in Western Road, Hove.

And last but not least, the quirky Château Plage, needs no explanation.

Château Plage - Copy

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The French Emperor and the Rottingdean lad

William Balcombe was born in Rottingdean in 1777.  On 18th October 1815, he received the fallen Emperor, Napoleon I into his home.  Not in Rottingdean but on the bleak island of St Helena in the middle of the Atlantic.  Not in a grand mansion but in his simple colonial villa, The Briars.  And not even in the villa itself.  Napoleon opted for an outbuilding.  The great man did not want to inconvenience his gout-ridden host’s wife and children.

The Briars 1853

The Briars was perched on a little hill. This 1853 image does not show Napoleon’s tent (pavillon) attached to the main house. University of California Libraries

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The Laughing Onion

In 2014, the following announcement appeared in The Argus:

J-J Jordane death notice

Jean-Jacques Jordane

The Stage Thursday 20 April 1967 (c) British Newspaper Archive

The announcement is deceptively bland.  It gives very little clue to the life of this charismatic man, chanteur and chef/owner of the Laughing Onion Restaurant in Kemp Town.

If you read no further, watch Stephen Matthew’s wonderful short video about Jean-Jacques

Jean-Jacques looked every bit the French pin-up ‘boy’ of the time and spent 18 months in the early 1960s performing in Britain. Continue reading

L’Escargot Fantaisie

IMG_6759The text below this jolly Martlets snail outside the Jubilee Libaray reads: “This Snail is a riotous display of colour and portrays the renowned (and feared) chef Jacques le Méchant.  The cunning cook has devised a way to infliltrate snail kingdom in search of the tasties snails for his famous restaurant L’Escargot Fantaisie!” 

This is probably an impenetrable in-joke … but as long as the Martlets Hospice makes lots of dosh from it, who cares? fin symbol

La Boxe

Carpentier manager 1921

Source gallica.bnf.fr / BnF

TO MEET AT EXHIBITION BOUT
AT BRIGHTON

“Georges Carpentier and his manager, François Dechamps, are coming to England to take part in the annual boxing programme promoted by Brighton’s most popular townsman, Mr Harry Preston.

On this occasion Deschamps will don the gloves with the genial Harry, who, in his prime was a great boxer.  Georges will be in his manager’s corner, while another world-famous fighter will second Mr. Preston.”  PALL MALL GAZETTE 14 Oct 1921 Continue reading

Joseph Marie Quero

During her research for the Fabrica Gallery on ‘The Boys on the Plaque’, Lyn Turpin found a rather curious name: Quero.  Lyn’s research shows that, following death of both his parents, at the age of 12 Joseph Marie (or William) Query became an apprentice hairdresser in a prestigious Parisian salon.  Ten years later he set off for England, married Brighton girl, Bessie, and set up his hairdressing business at 32 Ship Street.  Joseph Marie was not just a run-of-the-mill hairdresser.  He was a coiffeur pour dames and a perruquier [wig-make].  Joseph did not retire from the Ship Street salon until 1950.

As the family grew, the Queros moved their home to 66 Hallyburton Road in Hove.  Nostalgia must have kicked in as Brittany-born Joseph give his house a Breton name Ker Armor [villa near the sea].

For a  more detailed account of Joseph’s life and some terrific photos, go to Lyn’s article.

Much more information is available from ‘The Boys of the Plaque” WW1 project.