It was a cold, crisp January morning in the Home Counties, when I set off on the road to the coast. Brighton is a place full of history, and I can't really claim to do it justice in this short story, but I shall try nonetheless. While the town is full of beautiful Georgian architecture, it first gained its reputation as a fashionable and slightly daring resort town in the early 1840s, when Victorian ladies and gents would hop on the newly finished railway and head down for some sea bathing (paddling in the water wearing more clothes than you or I would wear on most winter days). The proceeding decades saw huge numbers of people flock there to stay, and indeed to live; and the now-famous Victorian landmarks began to spring up.
The Encyclopaedia of Brighton has this to say about our friend King Edward.
The young Prince Edward first visited Brighton with his parents, Victoria and Albert, in 1842, aged less than one year. Edward came to the town many more times as Prince of Wales, and after he had succeeded his mother on 22 January 1901 at the age of fifty-nine, he convalesced in Brighton on several occasions in an attempt to improve his health; he suffered from bronchitis. He stayed with his daughter, Princess Louise, at her house, 1 Lewes Crescent, for a week in February 1908 and was afforded exclusive use of the Kemp Town enclosures. He was also a friend of the Sassoon family, and often stayed with Arthur Sassoon at 8 King's Gardens, Hove.So good provenance then.
It was an utterly beautiful, if absolutely freezing day as I promenaded up and down the sea front, trying to imagine being a Victorian lady taking the air. Blue skies and glorious sunshine made the buildings and structures magnificent.
I was here to visit the Peace Statue, a memorial to King Edward VII, and unveiled two years after his death, in 1912. One of Edward's more salubrious nicknames was 'Edward the Peacemaker', for although he is probably more remembered for his love of the finer things in life, he was also a terribly nice chap, and this fact had wide-ranging influence. I hope to cover one of the more famous incidents at some point in the near future, but suffice to say, his peacemaking was such that it was rewarded with this statue - a draped, female angel holding an orb and an olive branch. The memorial fund also paid for a home for the Queen's Nurses.
But why was this memorial placed in Brighton? Simply because old Bertie was a huge fan of the place. He spent a lot of time relaxing and convalescing in Brighton and nearby Hove (the boundary of which is marked by the placement of the winged Peace). As I walked the seafront, I imagined how it would have looked in his day...
Pretty different, then.
While the Palace Pier, glorious in its tat, it still going strong since 1899 (with no really recognisable Edwardian features after the 1901 music hall was removed in the 80s), the West Pier, a much more elegant structure was lost to us in 2002. First the walkway fell into the sea, followed by the collapse of the Pavilion. Then, in 2003, in a suspected arson attack, the whole thing caught fire and the concert hall was consumed. This is all that is left now - a ghostly reminder of its former glory. Edward would have wiled away happy hours on the end of this pier, looking out to sea.
A short walk down the front to Hove, and another of his favourite spots can be found, albeit one that bears little resemblance to how it would have been back then. His alleged 'favourite seat' in Queen's Gardens is now only imaginary, but I didn't let that stop me from having a bit of a sit.
I'm a bit further down, but there were no seats to be found in that short strip of seafront... though the beach huts are quite cute (and quintessentially British). The Georgian building in the middle is dwarfed by high rise flats and choked by concrete... though I imagine the views from said blocks are probably marvellous. And they do at least make the original bits look even better!
One of my favourite places is the little Victorian bandstand that's found almost smack-dab in the middle of everything. It's played host to untold numbers of musicians over the years, and can now be hired for weddings (how lovely). More recently, Mr B. The Gentleman Rhymer filmed his Chap Hop History video there.
I wanted to get some shots in, and, in the late afternoon sunlight, they came out quite well!
As I mentioned in my last post, it was mighty nippy down on the coast. I had intended to take lots of lovely outfit shots, with the sea behind me, and the wind whipping my hair elegantly about; but unfortunately, real life isn't quite like that. I shed my heavy black coat for mere moments, and, while you've already seen a couple of sneaky previews, here are a few more of my outfit, and my winter warmer (of course), in all their glory!
Here I am again in the magnificent Jitterbuggin Bybee dress... please visit my last post for a rather smashing discount code... but back to the subject in hand. Honestly, and with no fibbing whatsoever, I felt distinctly, no, remarkably warmer with a glug of ginger in my belly. It warms you up as it goes down, and sits there, pleasantly radiating warmth. It also felt like it was helping digest the rather delicious if terrifyingly fattening lunch I had on the front. Fish 'n' chips ('n' other assorted fried sea treats), naturally.
Cheers to you all... I shall leave you with a recipe for a cocktail, well a punch really, of my own devising; to warm you up on a crisp winter's day. Though it probably helps if you're not wearing a thin cotton frock!
Fleur's Ginger Warmer
Three parts pressed apple juice (not that concentrate muck!)
One part King's Ginger liqueur
cinnamon sticks and cloves
dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
Heat all the ingredients and simmer for a wee while (all the measurements and timings are highly specific, as you can see), until all the flavours are released... then drink!
If you are a bit lazy though (I know I am!), you can simply mix a measure of KGL into a hot mug of Copella Winter Warmer, which is unbelievably delicious (and I shall mourn it when it's gone).
Speak to you all again soon!