Despite having a name in the same league as Bognor or Grimsby, Rottingdean is a pleasantly posh little seaside village on the South Coast of England with not so much as a sniff of anything iffy. Indeed, it has all the fragrancy of the archetypal English village that we fought the war for. Although it wasn’t always quite so sweet-smelling, once upon a time it had a reputation for smuggling.
It is very close to Brighton, which quickly acquired the stink that is associated with being a den of iniquity. As Brighton became renowned for debauchery and dirty weekends the more genteel folk moved along the coast to Rottingdean. A quiet alternative to naughtiness of Brighton… with the additional bonus of cheap booze and fags being provided by the smugglers.
There were some very celebrated folk that moved to Rottingdean. Rudyard Kipling lived there and so did his uncle, the Victorian artist Edward Burne-Jones. Gary Moore, ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist and famous for the song ‘Parisienne Walkways‘, moved there permanently…he is buried in the churchyard. Also buried in the same graveyard is someone we can’t really talk about. His name was GH Elliott and he was quite famous in the UK in the 40s and 50s, even appearing on ‘This is Your Life’.
For any younger readers this was a very popular TV programme that always began by the subject pretending to be surprised by the presenter of the programme. The subject was then dragged off to a TV studio to have every detail of their professional and personal life exposed to the waiting world. Garry Glitter appeared on it, and Jimmy Saville appeared twice. As you can gather, it was very well researched.
Unfortunately GH Elliott’s gravestone in Rottingdean bore his stage name, which I won’t repeat. Let’s just say that his act involved a tinting of the skin, which was rather bluntly reflected in his showbiz name. The gravestone has since been removed. Rather bizarrely, before it went, it was covered up with a black bin liner. The irony was obviously lost on whoever did that.
Racist light entertainment aside, Rottingdean is a quaint little slice of Olde England. It has a duck pond, formal gardens and houses that cost well over a million. For those that can afford to live there, I’m sure it is very nice.
Incidentally, many other Daily Mail readers were somewhat enraged, nay apoplectic, at the removal of GH Elliott’s gravestone. This was judging by their comments online when the Mail reported the story. It’s nice to know something positive came out of it.