It is illegal to download any image from 'Hove in the Past' for your own website or for publication without the permission of the copyright owner.

12 January 2016

Hove Plaques C - E

Plaques listed below:- Edward Carpenter, Sir Winston Churchill, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Charles Dickens & John Leech, Lord Alfred Douglas 'Bosie', Dunbar-Nasmith Home, Edward VII. 
Edward Carpenter (1844-1929)
Judy Middleton (2002 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
45 Brunswick Square, Hove
Edward Carpenter was born at 45 Brunswick Square. His parents had only moved into the property the previous year but the house was to remain the family home for 42 years. His father, Charles Carpenter RN became Chairman of the Hove Commissioners and Edward was his third son.

Charles Carpenter and his wife Sophia had a large family of ten children. The 1851 census records them at this house in Brunswick Square. Charles was aged 53 and he was a Lieutenant on half-pay and Chairman of Brighton Magistrates’ Bench. His wife Sophia was aged 42 and their daughters were Sophia (it was quite common for the eldest daughter to be named after her mother) Eliza 13, Emily 12, Ellen 11, Alice 4, and one-year old Julia. The sons were Charles 14, George 10, Edward 6, and three-year old Alfred. The household included eight servants.

The following description of life at Brunswick Square comes from Edward Carpenter’s memoirs. ‘Though a town house is not a congenial nursery for a child, yet we were comparatively fortunate. There was a large space at the back, where we kept, in succession, endless pets – pigeons, seagulls with clipped wings, rabbits, tortoises, guinea-pigs and smaller fry (I was especially fond of an aquarium): while in front was the large garden of Brunswick Square, overrun, despite the efforts of the gardener and other authorities, by all the children of the surrounding houses. A fearfully active family, girls and boys, we kept a sort of proud superiority over the other children in running races, prisoners’ base etc, while inside the house, and for wet weather, we had a sport entirely our own, and which consisted of one pursuing the others up the front stairs and down the back stairs or vice versa, with endless shrieks and uproar.’

Carpenter was of the opinion that the surroundings of Brighton were bare and chilly and ‘trees do not exist there.’ The only compensation was the sea and the Downs. He enjoyed going down to the water’s edge at around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. when there was ‘pitchy darkness – feeling one’s way with feet or hands, over the stony beach, hardly able to stand up for the wind – and to watch the white breakers suddenly leap out of the gulf close upon me.’

But the Downs became his favourite refuge and he writes about them with lyrical charm, calling to mind the works of Richard Jefferies. ‘The Downs twined themselves with all my thoughts and speculations of that time.’

The family were fond of reading in the evening and his sisters would also entertain them with music. But when the music ceased ‘ the sound of the sea would re-assert itself, or the roaring of the wind in the chimney.’ At 10 o’clock a servant would bring in wine and biscuits, after which they all, except for his father, retired for the night.

Edward Carpenter was educated at Brighton College from 1854 to 1863 and then he attended Trinity College, Cambridge where he became 10thWrangler in 1868. Wrangler was old term in use at Cambridge University, which meant the student had obtained a first class mark in the maths exam. The student at the top of the tree was named the Senior Wrangler. The 2ndWrangler was the next student and so on down the list.  

Carpenter became a Fellow of the College and was ordained priest. But he wrestled with his misgivings and doubts about his faith and in 1874 he made the momentous decision to relinquish his Holy Orders and resign his fellowship.  

In January 1881 Carpenter’s mother died. Although his father had not taken much notice of her ministrations while she was alive, he certainly perceived the difference once she was dead. He went sadly about the house, muttering, ‘The mainspring is broken.’ Three months later he was dead too. Edward Carpenter was the executor and moved back to the house in Brunswick Square in order to sort out the family’s affairs. His unmarried sisters remained in the house for a while before they moved to London and the Hove house was sold in 1886.

Carpenter felt quite strongly about women’s rights, or rather the lack of them, from an early age. He felt the life of an ordinary young woman in the 1860s was ‘tragic in its emptiness’. There were six or seven servants to do everything about the house and his six sisters ‘had absolutely nothing to do except to dabble with paints and music.’ He thought it a curious anomaly that his father, who was quite advanced in his views as a whole, should never have contemplated the idea that any of his daughters ought to be properly educated and be able to do professional work.

The poet Shelley was a major influence in Carpenter’s life and he began to take an interest in socialism. He grew so convinced of the virtues of a simpler life that he became a manual worker. Personal friends included William Morris, Walt Whitman in the United States, and Henry Fawcett, a famous statesman who was also blind. As regards Walt Whitman, his ideas were first brought to Carpenter’s attention in 1868 when he read the famous book of poems Leaves of Grass. .

Carpenter published a number of works including Towards Democracy (1883) and Civilisation: its Cause and Cure (1889). In the latter work, the chapter entitled Modern Science was published in Russian and no less a figure than Leo Tolstoy wrote the foreword.

Carpenter also wrote the song England Arise, which became the unofficial hymns of the labour movement, and he set to music Shelley’s song Men of England.

In so many ways, Carpenter was a pioneer in liberal views. He even anticipated the aspirations of the hippy generation by visiting India to listen to the wisdom of a Hindu guru. Carpenter was a close friend of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the Indian poet and philosopher and winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Edward Carpenter’s reputation stands high today after decades of indifference. He is regarded as something of a gay icon because he was an early advocate of homosexual freedom. His anthology of male love Iolaus was reprinted in New York in 1982. Carpenter lived with his devoted partner George Merrill for many years and they are both buried in Guildford. Carpenter died on 28 June 1929.

Census Returns
Carpenter, Edward My Days and Dreams (1916)
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade   

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Judy Middleton (2001 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
29/30 Brunswick Road.
The first thing to note about the blue plaque is that the dates are wrong. Churchill was actually at this Hove school from 1884-1888. The second point is that the Misses Thomson surname did not have a ‘p’ in it.

The Mayor of Hove, Councillor A.E. Brock, unveiled the original rectangular, stone plaque on 17 July 1953 but Mrs Nellie Cushman, who sponsored the tablet, was unable to be present. When a round blue plaque replaced the tablet, it was unfortunate that the same mistakes were repeated. But as both memorials were privately sponsored, there was nothing Hove Council could do about it.

copyright © J.Middleton
This sketch of the original Churchill plaque was done in 1979. 
Every now and again the Council receives an irate letter from people who have come across the discrepancy but nothing is done. One such correspondent was Churchill’s grand-daughter Celia Sandys who wrote From Winston with Love and Kisses (1994) which included a facsimile of a letter written by young Winston dated 27 March 1888 from his Hove school.

There is another difficulty too because some authors, if they mention Churchill’s Sussex school at all, state it was in Brighton. Brunswick Town has always been in Hove but as the Brighton boundary was so close and Brighton was the more fashionable seaside place at the time, residents often put ‘Brighton’ when writing their address at the top of their letters, as indeed did young Winston himself. Nowadays of course we are the City of Brighton and Hove and so many would regard this as a mere historical quibble.

It seems probable that the Hove school was selected on the grounds of health and recommendation. In fact Hove was well known for its private schools and the bracing sea air was thought to be beneficial to those such as Churchill who were feared to have a weak constitution. Indeed Churchill suffered from a bout of pneumonia in 1886 but the family physician Dr Roose was on hand and he refused to be anxious as long as he could the boy’s temperature below 105.

copyright © J.Middleton
29/30 Brunswick Road.
It is annoying Hove is not given its due in the formation of Churchill’s character because four years is a long and important time in a young boy’s childhood. It is pleasant to record that he was happy at the Misses Thomson’s School at 29/30 Brunswick Road and discovered his love of English language, history, and poetry, which he enjoyed learning off by heart. He also enjoyed activities such as riding and swimming. 

In 1972 Richard Attenborough directed the film Young Winston, which made no mention of the Hove School at all. It did portray Churchill’s previous school St George’s, Ascot where he was very unhappy and the film made much of his being caned. Then it moves straight on to Harrow! One supposes that being happy at Hove does not make for dramatic cinema.

Churchill sat the Harrow entrance exam in March 1888 and it was Charlotte Thomson who accompanied him. They were both as nervous as each other although Churchill was worse because he was violently sick afterwards. It is a popular notion that Churchill was a dunce at school and a late developer. Unfortunately, the Harrow entrance exam set no papers on his favourite subjects of English, French, history and geography. Instead there were papers on Latin, Euclid and algebra and he managed top marks for arithmetic. However, he admitted it was all much harder than he expected and the Latin and Greek translations were very difficult.

Churchill, Randolph Winston Churchill Volume I 1874-1900 (1967
Middleton, J A History of Hove (1979)
Sandys, Celia From Winston with Love and Kisses (1994)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
layout by D.Sharp
Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett (1884-1969)
Judy Middleton (2002 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque – 20 The Drive
Ivy Compton-Burnett was born in Middlesex but she grew up at Hove, spending some eighteen years at 20 The Drive. Her father, Dr James Compton Burnett, studied at the medical schools in Vienna and Glasgow and he graduated from university as an orthodox medical man. But he became converted to the virtues of homeopathy, which was so poorly thought of at that time, that many people were of the opinion he was throwing away a brilliant medical career. The good doctor admitted himself that his choice was not easy and that the social value of his new career was slander and contempt.

The doctor’s first wife was Agnes Thomas whose father was a homeopathic chemist in Chester. She gave birth to six children before dying in childbirth in 1882. Just twelve months later he married his second wife, a rather swift re-marriage for social conventions of the day. His new bride was Kathleen, daughter of Alderman Rowland Rees, and she was fifteen years younger than her husband. She certainly took on a daunting task because she became step-mother to two boys and three girls, all of them under the age of eight. She then went on to have seven children of her own, her eldest being Ivy.

Ivy’s brother Guy was born a few days after her first birthday and as small children they were inseparable. The next brother Noel was three years younger than Ivy, then followed four sisters, Vera, Juliet, Topsy and Primrose. Ivy remarked that she was a child of passion and on one occasion when Guy was given a ball while her present was a pinafore, she was so upset by the injustice that she stamped and roared until her family feared for her life. All the children with the exception of Noel were delicate babies and they were oiled daily on their father’s instructions. The family nurse Ellen Smith (called Minnie by Ivy) cared for the babies one after the other.

At the beginning of December 1891 Dr Burnett moved his wife and nine children to Hove where they occupied a house at 30 First Avenue. In 1897 they moved to 20 The Drive. They certainly needed a substantial property with all those children and there were thirteen bedrooms. The children were apparently not impressed by their new home at all and afterwards referred to it as ‘that hideous house’. Opposite them lived General Basden who was so unhappy at having a homeopath for a neighbour that he would not allow his wife to make a social call.

Although the Burnetts did not keep their own carriage, they certainly employed servants. The butler could not have been a very stately character, as he sometimes had to double as a valet. Apparently, one of the valets they employed later ran off with the family silver. There was a page and a nursemaid and a remarkable cook who liked to give voice to Temperance songs and held such sway in the kitchen that young Mrs Burdett was afraid of her. There was a manservant called Ager who was an imposing personage and enjoyed using long words. Miss Mills was the governess and Ivy and Guy gave her a hard time and eventually she was succeeded by a male tutor who taught them Latin and Greek.

Naturally enough Ivy and Guy were ringleaders in the nursery, ordering the younger children around and deciding what games should be played. In the back garden on stucco pillars, they placed their own gods called Polio and Elephantas.

The relationship between the two sets of step-siblings was fairly cool. The girls were packed off to boarding school as soon as possible while the boys attended day schools. But Ivy and her sisters enjoyed the luxury of being educated at home for much longer than the older girls had been allowed. Perhaps it was because they had been delicate babies.

Ivy was fourteen years old before she attended a normal school. This was Addiscombe College at 39 & 40 Tisbury Road, Hove, established for the daughters of gentlemen. In 1901 she was sent to Howard College, Bedford, for a couple of terms; the college being run by Ivy’s aunt Sarah.

The Burnetts had a family pew at St John’s Church although sometimes they attended All Saints Church not far away. Just to enliven the theological diet further, they would sometimes turn up for evening worship at the Methodist Church. Mrs Burnett was also a fan of the Revd A.D. Spong who held sway at the Cliftonville Congregational Church. She enjoyed listening to his sermons but then so did many other Hove people.

It is sad to record that Ivy Compton-Burnett detested Hove with a passion all her life calling it ‘a horrid, horrid place’. Her most pleasant memory was of the swathes of wild flowers growing between the Downs and the sea.

copyright © J.Middleton
Dr Burnett’s grave in Aldrington churchyard.
Dr Burnett purchased building plots in the western part of town towards Portslade and had villas erected upon them. Dr Burnett died suddenly at the age of 60 on 2nd April 1901, just two months before Ivy’s seventeenth birthday. He was buried on the west side of St Leonard’s Churchyard and his monument took the form of a rose-pink marble cross with the words Semper Fidelis in metal letters at the top. St Leonard’s Church had been a favourite destination for the doctor’s Sunday walks when he could also inspect his properties. He published 26 works during his lifetime.

Ivy’s sister Vera said their childhood had been joyous until his death. Mrs Burnett took her bereavement badly; she never left off mourning clothes and visitors were not encouraged. Her four youngest daughters should have been a comfort to her but instead she thought of them as a burden. She adored her sons and Ivy enjoyed a special place as the first-born.

Guy then took on the responsibility of head of the family but he never recovered properly from a bout of influenza that had afflicted other members of the family too. Guy died on 29 May 1905. Ivy was unable to reach Guy’s bedside in time because she was away studying at Holloway College. Guy’s loss was a terrible blow to his mother who died at the age of 55 on 5th October 1911. She was buried at Aldrington too.
copyright © J.Middleton
St Leonard’s Church, Aldrington.
In 1907 Noel went off to study at Cambridge and it fell to Ivy to look after family affairs. She managed farms, villas, building plots and houses, one of them being 40 Sackville Villas.

The younger sisters were keen on music and Vera studied under Myra Hess but Topsy was the most musically gifted and she was expected to make a career as a concert pianist. Vera and Topsy once gave a public recital at Hove. Their only close friends at Hove were the children of Topsy’s violin master, Mr Menges. They were Siegfried (known as Herbert), Isolde, Ludwig and Elfrieda; Herbert and Isolde were child prodigies at playing the violin. The Menges children formed their own string orchestra to which Vera and Juliet Burnett contributed piano parts. The girls spent many happy hours at the Menges house, which was not surprising because Ivy disapproved of all this music. She had her revenge by ordering the Bechstein grand piano out of the house and it ended up in a hired music room in Church Road. Quite simply Ivy’s iron rule was cruel and her sisters had suffered enough and were desperate to get away from her. The family had plans to move from 20 The Drive to London in 1914 but the outbreak of war persuaded them to stay where they were. But by 1915 the four younger sisters took themselves off to share a house at 8 Carlton Hill, London. Myra Hess was also part of the household and they all lived there in the greatest harmony. But their antipathy to Ivy was such that they would not allow her to visit except very occasionally for afternoon tea.     

In 1915 Noel married. He served in the 7th Battalion Lancashire Regiment and was killed on 14 July 1916. His name was not included in Hove’s Roll of Honour although he spent his childhood in the town. But knowing Ivy’s low opinion of Hove it is not a surprise that she did not ask for him to be included.

On Christmas Day Ivy’s two youngest sisters Topsy and Primrose committed suicide by taking Veranol, which had been prescribed for Topsy’s toothache before they left Hove. Ivy attended the inquest and afterwards suffered from prolonged insomnia.

By the close of the Great War, Ivy and her sisters had sold 20 The Drive but retained ownership of 30 First Avenue and other properties up and down the country. The bulk of their property portfolio consisted of terraced houses and shops on the outskirts of Hove plus a few more substantial houses. By the early 1920s these were being sold off too. 

Ivy Compton-Burnett’s first novel Dolores was published in 1911 but in subsequent years she came to dislike the work and tried to suppress it. Nothing further was published until 1925 when Pastors and Masters appeared. Brothers and Sisters came out in 1929 and she won the James Tait Memorial Prize for Mother and Son published in 1955. Altogether she produced 20 novels, the final one being published posthumously. Recurrent themes were homosexuality and incest although this was not blatant. It is interesting to note that around 80 years before Ivy was born two Burnett brothers married two Compton sisters and intermarriage between pairs of brothers and sisters was also a recurrent theme. 

During her lifetime her work was admired and contemporaries such as Evelyn Waugh considered her to be a minor genius. But her reputation has not stood the test of time and today she is virtually unknown. In 2000 she found an unlikely champion in the form of writer Hilary Mantel who thought her work was seriously underrated. (Sunday Telegraph 26 March 2000).

On 18 January 1989 the Mayor of Hove, Jim Buttimer, unveiled a blue plaque at 20 The Drive. Not that the general public have been able to see it recently as the building has been shrouded in plastic sheeting for months and months as it undergoes considerable refurbishment.

Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Spurling, Hilary Ivy When Young 1884-1919 (1993 revised edition)
Spurling, Hilary Secrets of a Woman’s Heart. Ivy Compton-Burnett 1920-1969 (1984)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) - John Leech (1817-1844)
Judy Middleton (2002 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
16 Lansdowne Place, Hove.
The son of a London coffee house proprietor, John Leech showed his artistic skills at an early age because at eighteen years old he had already published Etchings and Sketchings. By 1836 he was contributing to Bell’s Magazine while in 1841 he sent his first cartoon to Punch.

John Leech was also a good friend of Charles Dickens. In 1849 Mr and Mrs Leech, Charles Dickens, his wife, two daughters and his sister-in-law were all staying together in a lodging house at 16 Lansdowne Place, Hove. But it turned out to be a holiday to remember rather than a tranquil break.
copyright © J.Middleton
Charles Dickens
They had only been in residence a week when the landlord and his daughter went mad. Dickens described the scene to his friend and biographer John Forster as follows; ‘If you could have heard the cursing and the crying of the two; could have seen the physician and nurse quoited out into the passage by the madman at the hazard of their lives; could have seen Leech and me flying to the Doctor’s rescue; could have seen our wives pulling us back, etc.’

Mr and Mrs Leech and the Dickens family beat a hasty retreat from Hove and stayed instead at the Bedford Hotel in Brighton.
copyright © J.Middleton
Bedford Hotel, Brighton
Later in that same year of 1849 the Dickens and Leech families were again holidaying together, this time at Bonchurch and again their time together was not without drama. While bathing in the sea, Leech was bowled over by a huge wave and knocked unconscious. He became very ill and restless and ran a fever. He was treated with ice packs and the old remedy of being bled. As these treatments did not seem to be of benefit, Dickens stepped in, and with Mrs Leech’s permission, he hypnotized her husband. The result was that Leech fell into a sound sleep lasting for an hour and a half, during which time his condition took a turn for the better.

John Leech illustrated some of the works of Charles Dickens, principally A Christmas Carol. Leech, together with other artists, illustrated The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Haunted Man, The Ghost’s Bargain and The Battle of Life.

In The Battle of Life Leech made a dreadful mistake: depicting the scene of Marion’s elopement he included the figure of Michael Warden who was never there in the text. The mistake was not discovered until too late. Dickens was horrified, ‘I was going to implore the printing of the sheet to be stopped, and the figure taken out of the block. But then I thought of the pain this might give to our kind-hearted Leech … I became more composed.’

Indeed Dickens thought highly of Leech’s artistic skills, finding his work subtler than either Rowlandson’s or Gillray’s. Leech’s small woodcuts were said to be delightful.

Leech was very susceptible to the problem of noise and this sensitivity forced him to move house frequently. A particular pet hate was the noise generated by street musicians. He published a cartoon in Punch entitled Social Miseries Number 11, where an old man tries to read his newspaper in peace in one room while next door a young girl thumps the piano.

When Leech died, he was buried in Kensal Green, close to Thackeray’s tomb.

On 29 August 1989 the Mayor of Hove, Margaret Adams, unveiled a plaque at 16 Lansdowne Place commemorating the visit of John Leech and Charles Dickens. The date was chosen especially because it was also the date of Leech’s birthday.

When the Dickens and Leech families lodged at 16 Lansdowne Place, Hove, in 1849, it is interesting to note that Dickens’ sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth was with them. In 1836 Dickens married Catherine Thomson Hogarth (1816-1879) and it seems her sisters were fond of Dickens too. Indeed Dickens entertained inappropriate feelings for young Mary Hogarth who died in his arms in 1837. Dickens was so distraught that he could not write and he was late in producing the instalments of his current works. But sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth was a stabilising influence on the family, helping to look after the numerous children, acting as a general housekeeper and staying with Dickens until he died. Georgina must have been devoted to him because Dickens treated her unfortunate sister Catherine very badly. Poor Catherine, worn out by numerous pregnancies, lost her husband’s affections, and he left her in 1858. Of course divorce was out of the question and besides Dickens was revered through his writing as the upholder of traditional family life. In reality he had fallen in love with Ellen Ternan, a young actress who was 27 years his junior. But his adoring public knew nothing about this hidden scandal.

There is another connection between Dickens and Hove because Hablot Knight Browne, who illustrated many of his works, lived at 8 Clarendon Villas, and also merits a blue plaque.

Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Forster, John Life of Charles Dickens (1872) 3 volumes
Tomalin, Claire Charles Dickens : A Life (2011)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
Lord Alfred Douglas, 'Bosie'(1870-1945)
Judy Middleton (2002 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
1 St Ann’s Court, Hove
Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas was born on 22 October 1870 and he was the youngest son of the 9thMarquess of Queensberry. His nickname ‘Bosie’ dates back to his childhood and it was his mother who coined it; he was also her favourite child.

He was very handsome and became a poet of some distinction but unfortunately his subsequent fame rests on his notorious relationship with Oscar Wilde. They first met in 1891 when Douglas was a young man of 21 and Wilde a mature man aged 37. Although their homosexual relationship proved a social disaster for both men, Douglas liked to emphasise that all Wilde’s best work was done when they were together.

The Marquess of Queensberry disliked Wilde intensely and indeed homosexuality was against the law in those days. After three sensational trials Wilde was sentenced to two years’ hard labour while Douglas found it expeditious to move abroad. Many people thought he should have stood trial too but no doubt his youth and father’s influence had something to do with him not being prosecuted. Wilde died on 30thSeptember 1900.

It is surprising to record that within a very short space of time after this ending of an era, Douglas married Olive Custance on 4th March 1902. In fact the couple were obliged to elope because she was already engaged to another man. They lived together happily for ten years but separated because of the pressure Colonel Custance exerted upon them as he tried to gain custody of their only child, a son. But they kept in touch and she even made him an allowance.

Douglas became embroiled in a number of court actions and in December 1923 he was despatched to Wormwoods Scrubs for six months after being convicted of criminal libel. His target in this case was none other than Winston Churchill. Douglas had a bee in his bonnet about Churchill’s supposed conduct with regard to the Battle of Jutland and the drowning of Lord Kitchener.

In 1927 the Dowager Lady Queensberry and Douglas moved in to 35 Fourth Avenue, Hove, which a recent biography referred to as a rather dingy house. Local legend has it that they stayed at St Catherine’s Lodge Hotel until they found a residence to their liking. While living in Fourth Avenue, two friends lent Douglas the use of a quiet room in Brunswick Square where he could write his autobiography in peace; it was published in 1929.

On 19 May 1931 M. Montgomery Hyde, who later wrote a biography of Wilde, travelled down from London on the Brighton Belle to interview Douglas. He arrived at 1 p.m. and was given a glass of sherry, followed by smoked salmon, chicken, meringues, wine and liqueurs.

In 1935 the Dowager sold the house in Fourth Avenue in order to move into a nursing home. Douglas moved to 1 St Ann’s Court, a modern block of eighteen flats in Nizell’s Avenue. It was a ground floor flat consisting of a sitting room, dining room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen; Douglas’s nephew the Marquess of Queensberry paid the rent of £130 a year.

A number of distinguished visitors came to see Douglas at 1 St Ann’s Court including Hugh Kingswill (biographer of Frank Harris) Hesketh Pearson (biographer of Oscar Wilde) Marie Stopes (of birth control fame) Malcolm Muggeridge and MPs Alan Lennox-Boyd (who later trained at HMS King Alfred) and Henry ‘Chips’ Cannon.

On one occasion Pearson, Kingsmill and Muggeridge visited Douglas at the same time. They sat up at the table and enjoyed the sort of spread reminiscent of their schoolboy days with hot buttered toast, scones, cream cakes, tarts and jam puffs.

Douglas’s estranged wife Olive came to see him too and they spent Christmas 1939 together. On 10 December 1942 ‘Chips’ Cannon visited Douglas and described him as lithe, lean and smiling and looking much younger than his 72 years. Cannon commented on the rather pathetic ‘bibelots’ (relics of his gilded youth) that cluttered up the small living room.

In 1943 Douglas saw from his window a stream of German planes, which shimmered over the tops of the trees in St Ann’s Well Gardens and appeared to be heading straight towards St Ann’s Court.

Olive lived at 8 Viceroy Lodge on Hove seafront until she thought it would be good to live in London. But she soon became bored there and back to Hove she moved taking up residence at 45 Viceroy Lodge. 

Meanwhile, Douglas was in financial difficulties. His nephew could no longer afford to pay his rent. Douglas had to take the heart-breaking decision to send most of his possessions to Sotheby’s to be auctioned but he was disappointed at the small amount of money he received. He threw out a great number of letters, which Edward Coleman tried in vain to rescue before they were destroyed.

Olive died on 12 February 1944 and Douglas was allowed to live in her flat for a few months. While he was there, Revd Richard Blake Brown, chaplain of HMS Vernon, the torpedo establishment, came to see Douglas. Brown thought the flat delightfully airy and charming, painted predominantly white with blue cushions and curtains. But the sad fact was that Douglas was virtually destitute. The Official Receiver took whatever money Olive had left because Douglas had never received his official discharge from bankruptcy.

He had to leave Viceroy Lodge but decided to stay at Hove and in July 1944 went to lodge with a Mrs Turle at 16 Silverdale Avenue.
copyright © D.Sharp
Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas is buried with his Mother
in the cemetery of the Franciscan Friary of
St Francis & St Anthony, Crawley

The famous actor Donald Sinden (1923-2014) was apprenticed to T.B. Colman & Son, a large firm of shop-fitters at Hove. It did not leave him much time to return to the family home at Ditchling and so most weekday nights he spent at his grandmother’s house at Hove. A friend took him to a meeting of the Sussex Poetry Society at Hove and it was there that he learned Lord Alfred Douglas was living in the town. Sinden was determined to meet the poet and he visited him in 1944 at his lodgings in Silverdale Avenue. They got on well and Sinden made several visits. But a thoughtful act on Sinden’s part, far from pleasing the poet, enraged him. What happened was that Sinden found a copy of Oscar Wilde and Myself in a second-hand bookshop in Brighton. He thought it would be an interesting item to show Douglas, who had written it, and besides the book had been out of print for some 30 years. But when Douglas saw the volume he was far from pleased and indignantly wrote a repudiation of its contents on the flyleaf.

On 1st December 1944 Douglas’s friends, Edward and Sheila Colman, took Douglas, who was by then rather frail, to their own home in Lancing and it was there he died on 20 March 1945.

Hove residents liked to recall the times they had seen him enjoying the sunshine while sitting in St Ann’s Well Gardens or walking along Church Road and pausing to look at the rack of 6d books outside Combridge’s second-hand bookshop.

A blue plaque was unveiled at 1 St Ann’s Court on 22 October 2004, which was the 134th anniversary of Bosie’s birth.

According to the Daily Mail (22/12/14) the late Sir Donald Sinden’s home in Romney Marsh, Kent where he had lived since 1954 was recently raided. The stolen items would only have been of interest to a specialist collector and so Marc Sinden, Sir Donald’s son, is certain it must have been a targeted break-in. He stated ‘My father was a friend of Lord Alfred Douglas who gave him a very rare photograph of his father, The Marquess of Queensbury – the man who precipitated the downfall of Oscar Wilde – and it was signed by Lord Alfred.’  

Daily Mail (22/12/14) 
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Hyde, H. Montgomery Lord Alfred Douglas (1984)
Morley, Sheridan Oscar Wilde (1976)
Murray, Douglas Bosie
Sinden, Donald A Touch of the Memoirs (1982)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2015
Dunbar-Nasmith Home
Judy Middleton (2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque - 53 Brunswick Square
People living at Hove were not unused to the idea of Polish sailors in their midst. There were of course many nationalities amongst the men training at HMS King Alfred, the ‘stone frigate’ on Hove seafront, and before the war ended some 22,500 men had passed through the establishment. However, the white band worn around the cap of cadet ratings confused the general public at first because they were unsure of its meaning. Of course identification with an actual ship was forbidden for security reasons and so some people thought the white band meant the wearer was a Polish seaman. But every cadet rating had a white cap band and a fine old mess some of them made of placing it correctly too.

The Polish Daily newspaper was founded in 1940 to support the Polish Government in exile and had a circulation of 60,000 copies. From 1953 to 2001 the newspaper was printed at 23 Coleridge Street, Hove. The building was called Caldra House and once housed a Roman Catholic School. By the 1950s the newspaper sold around 50,000 copies daily while employing a staff of 80 people. Unhappily, by the time of the newspaper’s 50th anniversary on 12th July 1990 the figure had dropped to 12,000 copies. Former printer Tadeusz Filipowicz-Phillips joined the staff in 1962 and later became managing director of Caldra Publishing and Printing Company. The printing contracts subsidised the production of the newspaper. By 2001 only 3,000 copies were being printed and the average age of the readership was 75. The last copy printed at Hove rolled off the press in October 2001 and the premises were put up for sale for £700,000 freehold. It was stated the money from the sale would enable the newspaper to be printed for ten more years in London.

The previous two paragraphs are an attempt to understand why a home for Polish seamen should have been opened at Hove. Perhaps it was just a simple matter of Brighton and Hove with its sunny south coast being well known as an invigorating place for sick people to recuperate.

The other question is – why was it called Dunbar Nasmith House? The gentleman was not even Polish. But he had a great deal of experience in submarines and an equally great admiration for submariners. In addition he was known as a good friend of Polish seamen and so there was no better person to spearhead the campaign for a home for these men to honour some of the debt we owed them.

Admiral Sir Martin Eric Dunbar-Nasmith VC KCB (1883-1965) joined the Royal Navy in 1898. In those days he had the single surname of Nasmith; the Dunbar part was added after he married Beatrix Justine Dunbar-Dunbar Rivers in 1920 and they decided upon Dunbar-Nasmith in 1923. In 1915 Lieutenant Nasmith, commander of submarine E-11, covered himself with glory and earned a Victoria Cross by destroying nine enemy ships in the Sea of Marmara, a particularly tricky area of operation. In the Second World War he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth and the Western Approaches.  
copyright © J.Middleton
A postcard of an "E" Type Submarine similar to the one Dunbar-Nasmith commanded

An appeal for funds for the Polish Home for Sailors was launched on 18 October 1965 with an article in the Daily Telegraph. The money rolled in and the purchase for 53 Brunswick Square, Hove was signed on 10 February 1967, which was a special day as it was also Polish Navy Day. It was the day when Poland celebrates its symbolic marriage to the sea. The ceremony came about after Poland regained its access to the sea that had been lost at the Partition of Poland in 1793. General Jósef Haller performed the first ceremony on 10 February 1920 at the Port of Puck on a day of bitter cold when the margins of the sea froze. Consequently, a hole was cut in the ice so that General could throw the ring into moving water. Although it was a solemn occasion with a church service, there was a moment of levity when the platinum ring bounced on the surface of the ice instead of slipping into the water. The ceremony calls to mind a similar event the Doge of Venice used to perform when he threw a ring from the state barge into the Adriatic Sea.

The special ceremony to unveil the blue plaque at 53 Brunswick Square took place at 4 p.m. on 3 May 1979. Councillor Dame Jean Rivett-Drake, deputy Mayor of Hove, performed the unveiling. She was an important person in Hove, quite beside the fact that she was the first female Mayor of Hove in 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Dame Jean Rivett-Drake DBE JP DL was educated at St Mary’s Hall, Brighton and went on to study singing and the cello at the Royal Academy of Music. In the 1930s she joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and in 1940 she transferred to the Auxiliary Territorial Service as an ambulance driver, serving in the ranks until she was commissioned in 1942. Her war service took her to Belgium and France and in 1946 she was Mentioned in Dispatches. She held a regular commission in 1949 and later became Director of the WRAC. She retired in 1964 with the rank of Brigadier. She liked to emphasize the fact that she had served in every rank from the bottom to the top with the exception of regimental sergeant major. She had many interests and was a popular Hove Councillor not least because she always ‘spoke briefly and to the point’.

At the plaque unveiling she spoke of how Hove people were pleased to welcome Polish sailors. Also present were Admiral Cazalet, chairman of the Plaque Fund Committee, and other members of the committee such as Captain Whitestone, Mr Tizzard and Mr Sharman. Wladyslaw Nadratowski was also there. He had the distinction of taking part in the Olympic Games at Paris in 1924 and he was President of the Polish Navy Association from 1951 to 1968.  

On 15 July 1979 Rear Admiral Sir Anthony Miers appealed for funds for the Home for Polish Sailors on Radio 4. In his talk he outlined the important part played by the Polish Navy during the Second World War. His words were well received and resulted in some £6,532 being donated.

Alfred Piechowiak wrote the article for Nasze Sygmaly
Thanks to Robert Ostrycharz for kindly providing some information and to
Wanda Troman for lending me her translation from Nasze Sygnaly (no. 142 1979)
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade

Internet websites

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
King Edward VII (1841-1910)
Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
8 King's Gardens.
He was born on 9 November 1841 at St James’s Palace, being the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who went on to produce another eight children. But there does not seem to have been any special bond between mother and her first-born. Indeed Queen Victoria was never one to dote on her babies and it must be said the children were not particularly photogenic. Then there was the weight of responsibility on new parents to train up the young prince for his important role in later life. Towards this goal, Prince Albert instituted a protracted and strict educational timetable that proved frustrating for the young prince who never possessed an academic bent. He also suffered from comparison to his next sibling in age, Princess Victoria, later the Princess Royal. She was bright and intelligent and had a close relationship with her father.

It is interesting to note that when the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal were youngsters, they were vaccinated against smallpox whilst staying at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. The man wielding the syringe was Harry Blaker (1794-1846) and afterwards he took some of the vaccine home with him and vaccinated two of his grandchildren saying they would have royal blood in their veins. Blaker held the appointment of Surgeon and Apothecary to the Royal Household when they were in residence at Brighton. He received a salary of £300 a year and at Christmas time mince pies the size of dinner plates were despatched to him from the kitchen of the Royal Pavilion. Blaker was noted for being ambidextrous, which meant he could use either hand when performing operations. This speeded up the procedure, an important consideration when the patient had to endure the experience without the benefit of chloroform. There is a small memorial to Harry Blaker in St Nicolas Church, Portslade.

Prince Albert died of typhoid in 1861 at the early age of 42 and Queen Victoria was devastated. It also did not help the relationship with her eldest son because there had been a family row over his behaviour in Ireland. Prince Albert went to remonstrate with him and on the journey home became chilled. Queen Victoria put the stress of the incident as a factor in her husband’s death and thus laid some blame on the Prince of Wales.

The Prince of Wales retained that title for a very long time up until the age of fifty-nine. (Our own Prince of Wales has overtaken that record in the monarch-in-waiting stakes). But Queen Victoria continued to play her cards close to her chest and would not allow her heir to have any knowledge of government matters or the relevant documents and reports. It was probably quite an eye-opener to palace insiders when Edward VII turned out to be an able and well-regarded king although he only had a short reign. Moreover, he was popular in France, a feat for any Englishman, which laid the basis for the Entente Cordiale.

As he was excluded from matters at the top table, the Prince of Wales enjoyed himself in society with weekend house parties, raffish friends and indulging his love of horse racing, yachting hunting and shooting.  He travelled abroad often and had a particular love of France. There was also a string of affairs with society ladies as well as actresses, despite the fact he had a wife. He married Princess Alexandra, daughter of the future King Christian IX of Denmark on 10 March 1863. She was much admired for her beauty and elegance but unfortunately she became profoundly deaf, which made social interaction very difficult. But they were known to be an affectionate couple and they had six children. She was remarkably tolerant of her husband’s affairs but she felt secure in the knowledge that he loved her the best. They also had sorrows to share. Their youngest son John was born in 1871 and only lived for a day, then their eldest son the Duke of Clarence died in 1892.  
copyright © J.Middleton
This splendid postcard of King Edward VII captures the regal bearing of his later years and the characteristic beard cleverly disguises a receding chin. Queen Alexandra was renowned for her beauty and elegance. She also popularised the ‘choker’ necklace, which hid a scar on her neck.
King Edward VII first visited Hove when he was still Prince of Wales. His circle of wealthy and successful friends included Jews such as Arthur Sassoon (1840-1912) and his wife Louise. At first the Sassoons lived at 6 Queen’s Gardens, Hove, which was next door to Arthur’s brother Reuben Sassoon’s home and Reuben was also a friend of royalty. In 1883 Arthur and Louise moved along the road (renamed Kingsway in honour of the royal visits) to 8 King’s Gardens. In 1891 their household had a staff of nine servants. It was to this residence that their royal friend came to stay. Louise was a first-class hostess and knew just how to make him happy and comfortable. But he also found the coastal climate did his ailing chest a world of good and he liked to walk in the private gardens and sit in his special chair placed in a shelter at the foot of Grand Avenue. The gardens were private in those days and the public had no access. But even so the Hove public seems to have behaved in a more decorous manner in the presence of royalty than their predecessors did in the time of Queen Victoria’s visits to Brighton. She was horrified at the way the public hustled her on her constitutional along the promenade and even came close enough to peer under her bonnet to get a closer look at her face. It was one reason why she sold the Royal Pavilion Estate to Brighton Corporation. Another reason was of course the building’s association with her dissolute uncles.
copyright © J.Middleton
You can only appreciate the width of Kingsway when it is practically devoid of traffic as in this postcard. The Sassoon residence at 8 King’s Gardens is the house on the corner.
The royal visits meant a time of worry for Hove Police who had the task of keeping their monarch safe from harm. There was one occasion when a group of around 50 unemployed men staged a noisy demonstration outside the house under the leadership of a Mr Hardy. But the police were on hand and although banners were torn down and Mr Hardy was arrested, peace was soon restored The Mayor of Hove also did his bit by having the railings and public seats near the Sassoon residence painted to deter loiterers.
copyright © J.Middleton
Photo left:- King Edward enjoys a walk in the sunshine on Hove seafront while the crowd keeps a respectful distance. Photo right:- The shelter where King Edward is seated was situated at the foot of Grand Avenue. 
In fact King Edward enjoyed his visits to Hove so much there was talk in the town he was looking for a place of his own. He visited King’s Gardens in 1907 and 1908 but his last visit was on 10 February 1910. While he was there he gave an audience to Mr Asquith, the Prime Minister. On Sunday he attended morning service at All Saints Church in The Drive. But he was in low spirits, and muffled in scarves, with his homburg on his head, he walked slowly along the promenade, arms linked with Arthur and Louise. Despite his asthma and bronchitis, he continued to puff away at his favourite cigars. He died suddenly on 6 May 1910.
copyright © J.Middleton
All Saints Church, Hove, which once numbered a king amongst its congregation.
The public were genuinely upset at his death, and particularly in Hove, where his visits had been so much appreciated. General W.E. Marsland, 5th Dragoon Guards, was moved to present a magnificent west widow to All Saints Church, both in memory of the late King and of his attendance at the church. The window was described as being of ‘soft, silvery tones, suggestive of lights and shades playing on a lake.’ The window’s theme is creation and re-creation. On the left Eve is created from the rib of a sleeping Adam, attended by blue-winged cherubs; the corresponding light shows the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus and St Joseph carries a lantern. There are angels attending them on either side. Below these lights, the six days of creation are depicted and below them there are three scenes related to the Nativity.
copyright © J.Middleton
Photo left:- Hove people were shocked at the King’s death and the interest was such that souvenir postcards were produced. This one shows ‘The Late King Edward’s Favourite Seat at Hove’ plus a wreath. Photo right:- This postcard shows the Union Flag and the Royal Standard at half-mast with, two portraits of the late King and an image of 8 King’s Gardens.
Meanwhile, Arthur Sassoon donated the sum of £100 towards the creation of a large memorial in memory of King Edward VII to be placed on the border of Hove and Brighton. It is now universally known as the Peace Statue.

copyright © J.Middleton
The Peace Statue.
On 30 August 2013 the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Councillor Denise Cobb, unveiled the blue plaque at 8 King's Gardens.

Blaker, Nathaniel Paine Reminiscences
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Jackson, Stanley The Sassoons (1968)
Newspaper accounts   

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
page layout by D.Sharp