Guide: Louise Peskett
Reviewer: Simon Topping
It is a warm day and the sun is shining as we meet in Brighton’s St Nicholas’ churchyard for a ninety minute guided walk of the Notorious Women of Brighton.
Promising to be a lovely gentle stroll, in a group of approximately 15-20, we start in with a thirst for knowledge of these untold or underplayed stories of female triumph, achievement and intrigue.
Lousie Peskett is our guide; a genial, autodidact historian whose passion for the subject falls off the tongue easily and engages the audience well.
Here in the graveyard, we meet Martha Gunn and Phoebe Hessel, both remarkable women in their own ways; Gunn known as a working-class hero and substantial entrepreneur, while Hessel, born in 1713, disguises herself as a man to serve in the army. It was 17 years before she was discovered and ousted and she lived to 108 too. It is a great start to the tour.
As the walk continues we are introduced to political campaigners, activists, unusual entertainers and the occasional murderer. There are some fabulous characters to meet traversing the city on this talk (with accompanying pictures), including conjoined twins who performed on stage and screen in America in the early 20th century and the first black women to be given an OBE; social worker and magistrate, Pauline Crabbe.
Independently financed and researched by Peskett, Notorious Women of Brighton is a wonderful romp through time. It is the kind of work that should be funded by the council or local businesses so it can be made sustainable and shared more often to greater number all year round. A joy to be part of with a little bit of exercise throw in for good measure; highly recommended.
Runs until 3 June as part of Brighton Fringe