Brighton, 14 November 1827

On this day, exactly 193 years ago, a dapper 46-year-old Frenchman attended an elegant ball in the Assembly Rooms of the Old Ship Hotel, Brighton. What a splendid affair.  The rooms had recently been redecorated by Frederick Crace following his successful work at the Royal Pavilion.  The officers of the 52nd Infantry and the 7th Hussars were in their dress uniform (although the latter disgraced themselves by dancing while wearing their swords).  The ladies were magnificent in their ballgowns and jewels.  Even elderly Mrs Fitzherbert graced the event with her presence.

Hospitality is the fertiliser of the soul

In 2002, when the organisers of the Golden Jubilee Party in Regency Square (of which this blogger was one) invited the Orchestre d’Harmonie de Dieppe to play, they did not realise that they were following a long tradition.

In 2002, when the organisers of the Golden Jubilee Party in Regency Square (of which this blogger was one) invited the Orchestre d’Harmonie de Dieppe to play, they did not realise that they were following a long tradition.

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Brighton’s French Festival of Music

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).

Grand festival of music

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.

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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