Thursday, 29 August 2013

Sir Donald Sinden and Temple Street

Not many people know about Temple Street’s connection with that suave star of stage and screen, the late Sir Donald Sinden. Sir Donald* had a letter from 1886 which was addressed to his great-grandmother at 40 Temple Street.
Sir Donald Sinden –  a distinguished thespian with many Brighton connections
Sarah Sinden (nee Fogg) was born in Hull in 1842. She married Alfred Sinden and died in Brighton in 1934. Alfred died in 1881 and by 1886 Sarah had nine children aged between 8 and 20.
Sarah's oldest son, also Alfred Edward (Alfie), was born in 1871 and became the grandfather of the actor Sir Donald Sinden.
The letter was written by John Fogg to his daughter, Sarah Sinden, in 1886 when she was living at 40 Temple Street, which was described as a lodging house.
Alfred Sinden and Sarah Sinden (neƩ Hogg) c1870

‘Someone will wish they had written oftener…’


Here’s an intriguing extract from the letter.

"Wish Mother could write, she would if she could – she is now trying to sweep up the house poor dear soul. You must write to Emily. She will be glad to get a few lines from any or all of you. We often wonder you don't write to her. As for me, a poor old man, it does not matter so much - when I am gone somebody will wish they had written oftener."

See the whole letter at the Letters in the Attic project

* according to Wikipedia, Sir Donald – 9 October 1923 – 12 September 2014 – made his first stage appearance at the Brighton Little Theatre (of which he later became President) in January 1941, playing Dudley in George and Margaret in place of his cousin, Frank, who had been called up to war and so was unable to appear. In the 1940s in Hove, he befriended LordAlfred Douglas (known as Bosie), who had been Oscar Wilde's lover. On 23 March 1945, he was one of only two people who attended his funeral.

Temple Street in the 1950s

Reg and Maud Jinks moved into 3 Temple Street in 1961 – but before that the Walden family lived there. Sisters Terry and Bonnie Walden recall what it was like to live in Temple Street in those days

Girls of the house: Terry and Bonnie Walden
The Walden family arrived at 3 Temple Street in 1949. There were open fires in all the rooms and lincrusta wallpaper in the hall, which the girls liked to ‘pop’ (like bubblewrap today). All the front doors had canvas curtains to protect them from the sun in summer. Sisters, Terry and Bonnie have vivid memories of living in the street. Their mother bred budgerigars in an aviary in the backyard and also took in lodgers: two men came from the Isle of Wight to work as bus drivers and so loved Brighton that when they returned home, she sent them The Argus every week!

One door down a woman bred Persian cats. One door up the husband or brother had a dental repair workshop.

There was a tailor (Morris and Altman at no 7) half way up with two daughters. And further up a woman selling terracotta pots (Provence Pots no 21). John Adams at no 41 worked on the Brighton Belle and his was the first family in the street to get a television. The sisters watched the Coronation in 1953 and The QuatermassExperiment on it: television was an event and curtains were drawn and lemonade and sandwiches served. Ken Witty, a lifeguard on Brighton beach, lived near the top on the left. Half way up on the right was some sort of engineering workshop with men wearing green dungarees (Associate Engineering Ltd, selling motor car components).

Entertainment? The girls played all the usual children’s games out on the street. Of course, the beach was very close by. You could catch a paddle steamer to the Isle of Wight from the West Pier and go for boat trips in the fishing boats which pulled up onto the beach. And there were swings in St Ann’s Wells Park. Ice cream could be bought in a jug from Fortes next to the Metropole. There was a wonderful toy shop in Preston Street. Terry and Bonnie had bicycles and went skating at the ice rink in West St. It was a huge event when Father Christmas came to Plummer Roddis (opposite Waitrose which was then the Curzon Cinema) and when Princess Elizabeth visited the seafront in 1952.

Like Enid Gray’s daughter Lynne the girls went to Clifton College in Clifton Road. The uniform was green with yellow braiding and plaid skirts. Mrs Stanley was the head. There was a big old stove like an Aga on which cocoa would be made in the little bottles of milk, stood on it to heat up. Then you took your 11+ in St Mary Magdalen’s school hall. The walk to school took them past a sweetshop at the top of Victoria St where they initially used ration books to buy penny chews and sherbet dabs. The Post office was diagonally opposite and next to it a grocers which delivered every week.

Thanks to the CMPCA