Jack Brown or the living parcel

On the 18 March 1895, this strange tale appeared in more than a dozen French newspapers.

Gil Blas 18_3_1898

[Jack Brown or the living parcel

An elderly man, whose strong English accent left no doubts as to his nationality, appeared last evening at the post office in the rue de Choiseul.  He asked for hospitality overnight, saying that he was penniless and reduced to vagrancy.

When he was taken to the police station in rue Marsollier yesterday morning, he gave more or less this account, in a mishmash of English and French:

“Name of Jack Brown.  64 years old, retired non-commissioned officer in the English army, two stints in the dragoons of Her Gracious Majesty …

At this point he saluted respectfully and continued:

“Live in Brighton, three shillings pension a day.  Two nights ago, in Brighton with friends, drank more than usual.  My friends – played a joke, très common in the England – sent me to Paris as a parcel; sewed label on my back: ‘Jack Brown en route for Paris’; Brighton – Paris ticket stuck in my buttonhole.  Me completely drunk …”

“It’s disgraceful, getting that drunk on gin …” exclaimed the police inspector.

Non” he replied, “it was whisky, très bon… ]

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D’Aubigny Road

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.

Roundhill Park Estate. Brighton

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.

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Refugees 1792

Natalie de Laborde (Louvre plus)

“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.”

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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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Not all sweetness and light (1)

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.

Cotman V&A cdb01178-va-ss

Dieppe Harbour 1823 (John Sell Cotman) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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Bonjour Brighton

Was this the shortest-lived Brighton periodical, ever?  Edition #1 appeared in May 2007.  Was there ever a #2?

Bonjour Brighton better

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.

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