D’Aubigny Road is a pleasant street to the west of the Lewes Road in Brighton, not far from a large junction known locally as the Vogue Giratory. The streets neighbouring D’Aubigny Road carry ‘good, plain’ (at that time) British names: Round Hill Crescent, Richmond, Princes and Mayo Roads. And tucked away at the eastern end of the estate, the relatively exotic D’Aubigny.
Plan for the Roundhill Estate. Image reproduced courtesy of the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
The 1853 plan above makes clear that, when the Round Hill Park Estate was first laid out in 1853, none of the newly-traced roads had names, with the exception of Round Hill Crescent itself. Lennox Road was never built and Ashdown Road, which was built later, is not on the plan.
One fine day in 1953, a Frenchman brought his five-year old son to Brighton. The father said Au revoir, gave the boy a peck on the cheek – at most – and then left him. In an old people’s home. These are the facts given at the beginning of Les Vieillards de Brighton [The Old Folk of Brighton] written by Gonzague Saint Bris and published in 2002.
The narration is set in the former French Convalescent Home in Kemp Town. However, the text shows that it is unlikely that Saint Bris knew the building well. It seems more likely that he saw the Convalescent Home once, perhaps only fleetingly, but was so impressed by it that he determined to set his novel in and around the building. There is little doubt that Les Vieillards de Brighton is a work of fiction, but an imaginative and absorbing one at that.
Source: gallica.bnf.fr / BnF
Telegrams are always cryptic. Let’s start with trying to untangle the text above. Continue reading
It was wonderful to see the Paris Wine Bar in Church Road, Hove newly re-opened in February. The cafe looked wonderful with its bright new paint and inviting chairs and tables.
It was also good the see the renaissance of La Cave à Fromage in Western Road, Hove which has become L’atelier du Vin and Whey – both of which are fortunately still trading, albeit on a much reduced scale.
The Covid-19 virus has very sadly meant that, for the time being, such wonderful French themed small bars, cafes and restaurants cannot operate fully. Let’s wish all the best for “after” the lock-down to: Mange Tout in Trafalgar Street, Petit Pois in Ship Street, Terre à Terre in East Street, Le Nantais bistrot in Palmeira Square, La Fourchette in Queens Place, Hove and others that may have been forgotten. Many of these businesses now offer a delivery service, so do support them if you can.
Bonne chance pour l’avenir.
Good luck for the future.
“Portrait présumé de Nathalie de Laborde d’Augustin Pajou” © 1994 Musée du Louvre / Pierre Philibert
“Mrs. Fitzherbert, the Duchess de Noailles, and many other ladies of distinction, were present at the Cricket match, and dined in a marquee pitched on the ground, for that purpose. The Prince’s band of music attended, and played during the whole time the ladies were at dinner. In the evening, Mrs. Fitzherbert, the Duchess, Lady Clermont, and Miss Piggott, walked round the ground, seemingly the better to gratify the spectators with a sight of the French lady. The Duchess de Noailles appears to be 21, or 22 years of age, is very handsome, and her figure and deportment are remarkably interesting.”
Only eighteen months ago, the Palmeira Square area of Hove was home to several French restaurants (see blog of 5 August 2018: La Place Palmeira). Since then, both La Cave à Fromage and Pâtisserie Valérie have closed their doors. Now we have to say adieu to Café Rouge in Bartholomews which closed on 19 January 2020.
It was so good to see all those correctly used accents: Salon de thé and à toute heure. Fortunately, the branch of Café Rouge at the Marina is still open and carrying on the good work.
Another ‘French’ loss is the Paris Wine Bar at 119 Church Road, Hove. However, according the Argus, the restaurant was “not as French as its names suggests” – but for all the best reasons. The wines served in the bar came from all corners of world and not just France. Is this adieu to the Paris Wine Bar or merely au revoir? Hard to tell. Let’s look forward to its renaissance.
It’s not only food outlets that like to associate themselves with la France. Cycling and bikes are also often associated with our French neighbours. The bike shop, Velo Ami, at 73 Portland Road closed its doors in early 2019. A result of the harsh economic climate for retailers? But where oh! where was that accent on vélo?
Imagine the grand sight of two thousand musicians and choristers in “a daylight procession [starting] from the Pavilion at six in the evening and having marched with music and banners along the Kings-road to Brunswick-terrace, will return by the same route to the Pavilion grounds.” (Daily Telegraph and Courier).
What the advert above does not highlight is that almost each one of these two thousand performers was a Frenchman (with a few French-speaking Swiss and Belgians in the mix for good measure). Conference delegates descending on Brighton en masse is nothing new, for this event took place in 1881.
The following ad appeared in the newspaper Field on 5 December 1908.
Apart from an inaccurate spelling of Withdean, this was an intriguing advert.
On Friday 23 August 1816, Captain Cheeseman, master of the Neptune packet boat, returned to Brighton. He brough disturbing news for all his fellow mariners, for their passengers and for trade with France. During the night of 19-20 August, Captain Thomas Partridge of the Nancy had been shot by French customs officers just outside the port of Dieppe.
Dieppe Harbour 1823 (John Sell Cotman) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
In 1888, the 4th edition of Conty’s guide to London was rushed onto the streets of Paris so that any M. and Mme Dupont could venture safely across la Manche [the English Channel]. As part of their trip, Conty strongly recommends that they spend a day in Brighton.
Source: gallica.bnf.fr / BnF
[To leave London without having seen Brighton (pronounced Brahaictonne) and its splendid aquarium would, in our minds, make for an incomplete trip.
Let’s just note for the record that Brighton, the land of pretty English girls, is the Dieppe of England and that, on a sunny November day, it reminds us somewhat of our beautiful town of Nice.]
Is that what they call a back-handed compliment?