Brighton goes to the Paris Exhibition

As far as is known, no Jemima ever went from Brighton to the Paris Exhibition of 1867, but if she had, these might have been her letters to her friend Emily.

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Brighton,March 1867

Dearest Emily,

At last! Father has said we can go to the French Exhibition in Paris in September.  First, he says we must all improve our French.  Father is a little distrustful of the Parisians, so he says we must at least know what they are saying.  Mother and I will go to Mlle Witter in Holland Road (such a nice safe area of Hove, Father says) but Father has chosen to go to Mons. Lamette in East-street. Continue reading

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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The Old Folks of Brighton

Les Vieillards de Brighton Saint-BrisOne 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.

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First check your facts, M. Conty

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

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?

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J’♥ la France – the Hove way

♥ Since the 1920s, fewer and fewer buildings in Hove have borne French names – alas, many have been Anglicised, with two laudable exceptions.  Where did these names come from?  I’d love to know.

Normandy House 1 - Copy - Copy.JPGNormandy House, at 18 The Drive was first occupied in the early 1960s.

Who chose the name and why? 

Brittany Court 2In 1928, Brittany Road was no more than a building site, with several new houses under construction.  The following year, two of the houses were finished and had been given French names, St Brieuc and St Malo.  By 1930, one more Francophile owner had given his house an appropriate name, Bretagne and Britanny Court, recently completed at 134 New Church road, had its first occupants.

The boat looks somewhat like one of the ships that raided Brighton in 1514.  Did they come from Brittany?

Lorraine Court - Copy

Lorraine Court, at 61 Osborne Villas, was built in the late 1950s on land that had, until then, been the back gardens of houses in Medina Villas.  Not to be confused with Lorraine Court in Davigdor Road, Brighton. Could this be a tribute to General de Gaulle’s croix de Lorraine [cross of Lorraine], symbol for the Free French Forces during WW2?

Paris HouseThere is no mystery about the name of Paris House at 3 Wilbury Villas, just by the railway bridge. The building firm of H. J. Paris took over the premises early in the 1950s.  It was perhaps this company which built the modern, rather bland, brick block which stands there now.  The firm lasted into the 1980s, but has since disappeared from directories.  Not to be confused with The Paris House pub in Western Road, Hove.

And last but not least, the quirky Château Plage, needs no explanation.

Château Plage - Copy

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