St Valentine His Day, 1882

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On St Valentine’s Day we take a look at an 1882 cartoon from the Brightonian newspaper. Why is cupid trampling on a fish?

The Brightonian was a weekly publication of the 1880s that regularly featured cartoons. These were mostly caricature portraits of local people but they occasionally focused on an event or day of celebration. For 14 February 1882 they depicted the impact of St Valentine’s Day on Brighton.

Many of the details, such as Councillor Dell’s ascension to ‘glory’, are rooted in local politics of the day. But there are plenty of details we can appreciate today.

St Valentine

St Valentine is depicted as the familiar naked cupid carrying a bow and arrows. He empties two sacks of letters upon the people of Brighton, with one envelope (in the style of great art) covering his modesty.

The ‘fish’ he merrily tramples upon is actually a dolphin and represents Brighton. At the time, Brighton’s coat of arms incorporated two dolphins in a stylised form commonly used in heraldry.

Early 20th century postcard bearing Brighton’s coat of arms.

These ‘fish’ are actually dolphins. Although they may

Lovers on the Chain Pier

The Chain Pier is presented as the perfect venue for ‘Loungers & Spoony Couples’. But if you are familiar with photographs of the Chain Pier, you might be surprised to see the odd T-shaped section at the end.

A ‘Kursaal’ is a term derived from the German for a ‘cure-hall’ in a spa, but was usually used in 19th century English to describe a place of amusement in a resort. This feature was planned for the Chain Pier, but never actually built. The print below was published at about the same time as this cartoon and shows what might have been.

Pavilion animals

Surprisingly, the minarets of the Royal Pavilion are nowhere to be seen in a set of images capturing Victorian Brighton. Yet it seems to play a role for loving animals, with both Pavilion Rooks and Pavilion Cats having apparently made the former palace their home.

Kevin Bacon, Digital Manager

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