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.

3 May 1968 – Hove

media_file_2603At the beginning of the first week of May 1968, French universities closed their admin. departments.  On 3 May, the students made their objections very clear.  By the end of the week, 20 000 of them were rioting in central Paris.  A few days later, the barricades were up.  By the end of the following week, 2 million workers were on strike.  France was paralysed and stayed so until the beginning of June.  What were Brighton and Hove doing at the time?
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Brighton and Hove French Circle: Update

The Brighton and Hove French Circle prides itself on being one of oldest French Circles in the country.  But was it really founded in 1915 as we have always claimed?  Well, yes,

This little snippet seems to show that Antoine Désiré Joye, teacher of French and Pasteur of the French Protestant Church in Queensbury Mews (see blog of December 2016) was at the fountainhead of the Cercle Français.  For 10/6d you could attend a course of 30 lectures on literature given by the man himself.

Source: The British Newspaper Archive

The French Circle still continues the tradition of providing a series of subscription lectures and talks throughout the winter months. Continue reading