You might not think you would ever encounter a full set of cornemuses Auvergnates or cabrettes [bagpipes from the Auvergne region] in a Sussex pub, nor hear the wail of a French hurdy-gurdy as you come round the corner in Shoreham, but for the last thirty years someone has been doing this in Brighton, and dancing to it too.
Dansez Français demonstrate their skills at the Centenary celebrations of the Brighton and Hove French Circle. Her Majesty the Queen gazes benevolently at the Breton flag. The Hove Club, 2015. Image: Suzanne Hinton.
Napoleon the Third was well established in Brighton from the mid-1850s and was there for nigh on one hundred years. That is to say, a beer seller, Arthur Hollingbrook at 13 Cheapside, decided to celebrate the coming of the second French Empire and its emperor by renaming his beer house as the ‘Napoleon the Third’.
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.
Was this the shortest-lived Brighton periodical, ever? Edition #1 appeared in May 2007. Was there ever a #2?
The magazine was bilingual and covered topics such as Que visiter à Brighton [What to visit in Brighton]; Tu tires ou tu pointes [petanque enthusiasts will recognize the reference]; Quoi de neuf en France with all the latest news about the hit parade and the 2007 presidential elections.
When a certain B.L. arrived in Brighton in 1866, he took a rather harsh look at the inhabitants of the town. His article was published in the weekly magazine “La Vie Parisienne”. B.L. starts his piece by satirising the drivers of the fly carriages before pillorying the street sellers, the urchins and finally the beggars in the street. But the main barb of his article is reserved for the bourgeoisie. Continue reading →