Friday, October 27, 2006

Across Sussex With Belloc:

In the Footsteps of 'The Four Men'
By Bob Copper ISBN 07 509 06030

“At Oxley’s Green an isolated forge and blacksmith’s shop lies back from the road on the right-hand side and soon after, the sign of the inn situated at a crossroads tells us sustenance is at hand. it is the life-size figure of the gallant Jack Fuller himself, at one time squire of this parish, complete with top hat and umbrella, for this is the Fuller’s Arms, now called Jack Fuller’s , where Belloc and Grizzlebeard fell in with the Sailor..” pp 7

“The landlord greeted me at the door, a friendly man in a striped apron, which spike of close association with the kitchen. The inn is well over half a mile outside Brightling itself and was opened here, converted from an old barn, by the redoubtable Fuller to replace the one in the village. The public life of the Green \man in the village street, it appears, was terminated by the advocates of abstinence and piety because its proximity to the church opposite seemed adversely to affect the size of the Sunday congregations. Not a very subtle approach, it could be said, to this age-old problem, and none is left wondering if this somewhat costly and clumsy attempt to load the dice against the devil actually worked.” pp 8.

“On my first walk I had stuck to the original route and at Wood’s Corner had come out on the Heathfield road, which at the time was very quiet. I had also diverted and walked a couple of hundred yards east of the Swan Inn and taken a close look at the Sugar Loaf, a conical building some thirty feet high standing in a meadow with no obvious practical use. You can still visit it today. There is a door and several windows, all but one of which have been blocked up, and it is reputed to have been lived in by an old man who brought up his family there. It is also said that it was once the refugee of a hermit, but this must refer to a different incumbent and probably and earlier period. It would be quite impossible for one man to combine two such diverse roles, particularly with in such a confined space.” pp11

Monday, October 23, 2006

Was Jack Fuller a smuggler?

"Some say…an intriguing theory recently put forward by one of the foremost authorities on Sussex is that those follies were part of a great smuggling enterprise. Mad Jack, with money, personality and intelligence, used the Observatory as a look-out post; it commands wide coastal views. Belle Tout is said to have served the same purpose, though it could have served no purpose at all during those frequent mists. The follies were on smugglers’ routes; they were hollow, and the seamen hid the goods there to be collected by the land men. Presumably the follies, being comparatively few in number, were only occasionally used as hiding-places, or the excise men would have had a much simpler task. Yet how does the Needle fit into that theory? The main object was to get the goods away quickly – not to run up the highest Down in the area for a cache that might or might not be there. Perhaps the Needle’s role was merely negative – a genuine folly adding weight to the deception about the others.

Mad Jack was in the habit of travelling in a heavily built barouche, carrying pistols and food and attended by at least one outrider, ostensibly as protection against footpads. A man who so fully enjoyed his wealth would not take kindly to the prospect of its being snatched way. Was it also for protection against rival smuggling gangs? It could hardly have been fro protection against the excise en. In his social position as landowner, philanthropist and Member of Parliament, a confrontation with the law would entail the loss of much, if not all he most valued. "

Source: Curious Sussex, by Mary Delorme – ISBN 07090-2970-5
St Edmundsbury Press Limited, 1987, pp 72 -73.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Auto-biography of John Britton

John Britton by Charles Edward Wagstaff, after John Wood
NPG D20053 - mezzotint, 1845

Re John Braham

The name and fame of JOHN BRAHAM are familiar to all lovers of vocal music and the drama; as he has been upon the public stage of England and Europe more than half a century. When a boy he first attracted admiration in the Synagogue, Duke's Place, and at the Royalty Theatre, Well-Close Square; and, as an aged man, he displayed his amazing powers of voice and musical science in the public during the year 1849.
For many years he was my neighbour and friend, having resided at No.3, Tavistock Square, during my sojourn at No. 10 Tavistock Place. At his house I have spent many hours of high excitement and delight, in the company of some of the most eminent performers and literati of the age.
It is well known to the world that Signora Storace* lived there with him, and that one son, who was their issue, is now a Prebendary of Canterbury Cathedral [William Spencer Harris Braham born 03 May 1802]. After the decease of that lady, Braham wedded Miss Bolton, of Liverpool a very pretty and amiable young woman, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. [John Braham married Frances Elizabeth Bolton of Ardwick, Manchester, Lancashire on 18 Nov 1816]
At the birth of the eldest of those sons I spent the evening with him, and wrote him a congratulatory letter on the following morning. Many amusing anecdotes might be related of my friend, for he lived in the great, the gay, the public world: and his society was coveted by princes, titled lords, and ladies , as well as many of the sharpers and harpies of society. He was long noted for prudence and caution in pecuniary affairs, and boasted, before a Committee of the House of Commons, of never embarking in theatrical property. Yet he as afterwards seduced into speculations of not only hazardous but ruinous extent, in the Argyle Rooms, Regent Street, the Colosseum, in the Regent's Park and the St. James's Theatre. All of these failed, his property suffered, and he was thence compelled to make a professional voyage to America. On his return to England he again appeared upon the stage and in the concert-room; with his two sons, John [John Hamilton Braham born 01 Jan 1819, christened 28 Apr 1819 Old Church, Saint Pancras, London] and Charles [born c. 1817, London], travelled over the greater part of the island, giving vocal entertainments in most of the principal towns.
His eldest daughter [Frances Elizabeth Anne Braham born 4 Jan 1821 at Tavistock Square, St. Pancras, London] married John James Henry Waldegrave, Esq., son, before marriage, of the sixth Earl of Waldegrave. [marriage 25 Jun 1839 at Kensington] This gentleman died in 1840, in less than twelve months after their union; and in the same year his widow married the seventh Earl of Waldegrave, who was the younger, legitimate, brother of her first husband. [She married George Edward Waldegrave (born 8 Feb 1816) on 28 Sep 1840 in Edinburgh, Scotland.] This nobleman had succeeded to the peerage in his nineteenth year; and, both at Cambridge and in the metropolis, had acquired a most unenviable notoriety by riotous conduct in the public streets, beating policemen and other peaceable individuals, by feats of dangerous driving, and similar freaks of recklessness. The wild excesses of his lordship and his associates often appeared in the records of the London Police courts, and made his name as notorious a that of his disreputable companions and prototype, the Marquess of Waterford. The pecuniary difficulties in which he became involve, led to the disposal of his celebrated Villa or Strawberry Hill, with the whole of its valuable and interesting contents, which were sold by auction in 1842. That property had descended to him from Maria, Countess Dowager of Waldegrave and Duchess of Gloucester, daughter of Sir Edward Walpole, K.C.B. After exactly six years of married life, the Earl of Waldegrave died on the 29th of September, 1846, in the thirtieth year of his age.
Left with a handsome fortune, youth, and engaging manners, Lady Waldegrave married again, in September 1847, her third and present husband, George Granville Harcourt Esq., M.P., [born 17 Aug 1785 and died 19 Dec 1861] eldest son of the late Archbishop of York [Edward Vernon Harcourt born 10 Oct 1757 & died 5 Nov 1847] .
* Signora Storace was a noted character in the annals of the drama, and of gallantry, for many years. She was an accomplished singer and musician, as well as a very popular comic actress. Though she retained her maiden name, of Storace, till death, she was married, when in her teens, to Dr. Fischer , a famous German violinist, form whom she soon parted, and attached herself to Mr. Attwood, a composer; afterwards to Mr. Brian Barrett, a wax-chandler, who committed suicide; and, subsequently, she formed a more familiar and lengthened connection with Mr. Braham, with whom she lived for many hears. Early in their career they travelled to Italy, and to various other cites of the Continent performing at some of the most eminent theatres with unparalleled success. Older that her friend, she latterly became slovenly in habits, ordinary in person, and vulgar in manners, whence "the gallant, gay Lothario' was tempted to neglect her, and visit a Mrs. Wright, who lived in the vicinity of Tavistock Square, and whose personal attractions eclipsed those of the actress. These visits were so frequent that they become the topic of common remark and commentary. Mrs Wright had a husband, who deemed it advisable speculation to institute an action for crim. con. against Braham. There was but little difficulty to substantiate the case, and the jury pronounced a verdict for the plaintiff, with a large sum for damages. On this occasion, one of my witty friends (the late Edward Du Bois) penned the following Epigram, which was circulated extensively through the pages of contemporary periodicals:
"A Jew d'Esprit, -- in crim. con. see,
Lo! Braham's fate is such,
This Child of Song is only wrong
In loving Wright too much."

Title: The Auto-biography of John Britton
Publisher: Printed for the author, as presents to subscribers to "The Britton Testimonial"
Author(s): John Britton, T. E. Jones
Publication Date: 1850
pp. 177 - 179

John Britton - 1771–1857, English antiquary and topographer. The long list of his writings includes biographies, critical works on art and literature, and the descriptions of landscapes and buildings for which he is famous. The Beauties of Wiltshire (3 vol., 1801–25) was written with E. W. Brayley. The two friends wrote part of Beauties of England and Wales (18 vol., in 25, 1801–15), but because of difficulties with the publishers, they did not complete the series. Britton was influential in the movement to preserve ancient monuments. Source:

Monday, October 02, 2006

Obituary of John Braham

Feb 17. Aged 82, John Braham esq.
the veteran vocalist.
This favourite of three generations was
born in London in 1774. By descent he
was a German Jew; was left an orphan;
it is said that in his boyhood he sold pen-
cils in the public streets. However, he
was still very young when he became the
pupil of Leoni, and Italian singer of cele-
brity; and his first appearance in public
took place nearly seventy years ago, on an
occasion of which the following is a record:
“For the benefit of Mr. Leoni, at the
Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, on Sa-
turday April 21 1787, will be performed
the Comic Opera called the Duenna:
Ferdinand, Mr. Johnstone; Isaac, Mr.
Quick; Don Jerome, Mr. Edwin; Antonio
Mr. Davies; Lopez, Mr. Wewitzer; Carlos,
Mr. Leoni; The Duenna, Mrs. Wilson;
Louisa, Mrs Martyr; and Clara, Mrs.
Billington. At the end of Act I. ‘The
Soldier tired of War’s Alarms,’ by Master
Braham, being his first appearance on any
stage.” And again, after the first act of
the farce, he sang the favourite song of
Ma chere Amie. At the opening of the
Royalty Theatre in Wellclose-square on
the 20th June in the same year,” Between
the acts of the play, ‘The Soldier tiered
with War’s Alarms; was sung with great
success by a little boy, Master Abram,
the pupil of Leoni,” according to the
Chronicle; and another paper said, “ Yes-
terday evening we were surprised by a
Master Abraham, a young pupil of Mr.
Leoni. He promises fair to attain per-
fection; possessing every requisite ne-
cessary to form a capital singer.”
When he lost his boyish voice his future
prospects appeared doubtful, -- Leoni who
had fallen into difficulties, about that time

leaving England, but John Braham found
a generous patron in Abraham Goldsmith,
and became a professor of the piano. On
his voice regaining its power he went to
Bath, and there, in the year 1794, made
his appearance at some concerts that took
place under the direction Rauzzini, who,
appreciating his talent, gave him musical
instruction for three years. In 1796 young
Braham was engaged by Signor Storace
for Drury-Lane Theatre, and his debut
(which was in an opera called Mahmoud)
was so successful, that in the year fol-
lowing he was engaged for the Italian
Opera-house. Hoping, however, to achieve
a reputation more permanent than could
be obtained by any other course, he re-
solved to visit Italy, and there to complete
his musical education. Florence was the
first city at which he appeared in public;
then he went to Milan, and afterwards to
Genoa, at which latter place he studied
composition under Isola – performing with
another great English artist, Mrs. Billing-
Taking leave of Italy in consequence of
numerous solicitations form his own coun-
try, where the intelligence of his success
had awakened a lively curiousity, he re-
appeared at Covent Garden in 1801. This
is the pint form which may be dated that
triumphant career during which he created
a constant furore, the effect of which has
lasted in some degree even to our own
days. The opera in which he made his
first appearance after his return was a work
by Messrs. Mazzinghi and Reeve, entitled
The Chains of the Heart. For a series of
years, terminating in 1816, he sang at the
King’s Theatre, in concert with Mesdames
Billington, Foder, and Grassini. In 1809,
having been engaged for the Theatre Royal,
Dublin, for fifteen nights (for the sum of
2,000 guineas), he was so successful, that
his performances were prolonged to thirty-
six. When Weber composed his opera
Oberon for the English stage, Braham was
the original Sir Huon.
At the commencement of the present
century, a vocalist who was a the same
time an accomplished musician was a rare
personage; and for many years Braham
was without a competitor. After his voice
had lost its original power, he was suc-
cessively engaged at several theatres on the
mere strength of a reputation which seemed
immortal; and his proficiency in singing
Handel’s works was universally acknow-
ledged when his career as a popular vo-
calist had reached its termination.
Of his capabilities, it was said that from
the simplicity of “There was a Jolly
Miller”, to the difficulties of “Amid a
thousand racking Woes,” he had no equal.
His compass extended to about nineteen
notes; and his falsetto, from D to A, was
so entirely within his control, that it was
hardly possible to distinguish where his
natural voice began and ended.
But, after all, the unbounded popularity
which Braham so long enjoyed was derived
not so much form his scientific skill as
from the fact that he expressed, in his
well-known songs, with wonderful force
and fire, the national feelings of his time.
While his triumphs as a vocalist were
without precedent, Mr. Braham was also
successful as a composer. Not only did
he wrote several of the most popular songs,
but he composed a tolerably long list of
entire operas. Of these the most cele-
brated were perhaps The Cabinet and The
Devil’s Bridge, relics of which will be
found in every old-fashioned music-book.
The only vocation which Braham at-
tempted without success was that of ma-
nager. The St. James’s Theatre, which
he built as an opera-house, and which was
first opened in 1836, never fully answered
the purpose for which it was first intended.
He also leased the Coliseum in the Re-
gent’s Park, which proved an equally un-
successful speculation.
In private life Mr Braham was gene-
rally respected. He moved in good so-
ciety; and among his acquaintance his
fame as a man of extensive information,
and as a humorous retailer of anecdotes,
was scarcely inferior to his reputation as a
vocalist. The large fortune which his
genius and energy had once aimed was
lost by unfortunate speculation; but his
declining years have been passed in the
most cheerful comfort, secured to him by
the care of his daughter, Lady Walde-
grave. She married, first, John James
Henry Waldegrave, esq.; secondly in 1840
George Edward, seventh Earl of Walde-
grave; and thirdly, in 1847, George Gran-
ville Vernon Harcourt, esq. eldest son of
the late Archbishop of York. Three of
Mr. Braham’s sons have adopted his own
profession. Their mother was Miss Bolton,
of Arwick near Manchester, to whom he
was married in 1816. HE had previously
lived for some years with the daughter of
his old master, Anna Selina Storace, who
accompanied him to Italy, and by that lady
he had a son, who became a minister of
the Church of England, to which Braham
himself had conformed.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, January to June inclusive 1856, pp. 540 - 541