Taking refreshments at Dennett's Corner, Devil's Dyke
Supplier of cards to the Dennett teashop, Devil's Dyke, Brighton. Members of Dennett's family or possibly Dennett himself sold refreshments at a wooden hut called "Dennett's Corner" on the path from the Dyke Railway Station to the Dyke Hotel. Visitors were charged 6d per person (4.2 pence in modern money) for a pot of tea, bread and butter, and a piece of cake! In addition, they could buy good quality real photographic cards of the hut and the Devil's Dyke as souvenirs. These were labelled on the back in green: "Published by J. Dennett Junior". The black and white (slightly sepia tinted) pictures had crisp white borders with printed captions. The card of the hut shown above is interesting because the women's large hats date the photograph to the period 1910 to 1914. Carefully staged, the photograph was very obviously taken for publicity purposes. The card lacks a reference number, unlike other Dennett cards showing the Dyke, which have 5-digit numbers beginning with 17, such as 17944, 17945 and 17950. A 1911 postmark has been seen on one of these numbered cards.
Other real photographic cards of the Dyke area are known with 5-digit reference numbers starting with 17 that share the same design as the Dennett cards but are labelled on the back (in the same green as the Dennett cards): "Madeira Series. W.D. & S. Ltd. - B". This firm has not been traced, though it may have been local, the "B" being possibly an abbreviation for Brighton.
At least one of Dennett's real photographic cards was also available as a coloured collotype, printed in Saxony, with his name and address on the back.
Dennett's status as a postcard publisher is problematic. There is no evidence that he printed any of the cards himself, but he may well have taken the photographs or arranged for them to be taken. The Rapid Photo. Co. of London supplied retailers and wholesalers in many parts of England with cards of very similar design. Possibly, they printed cards for W.D. & S. Ltd., who in turn supplied Dennett.
John Dennett Junior was almost certainly John Richard C. Dennett, born in 1891 at Brighton, and the eldest son of another John Richard Dennett, who had been born in 1863 in Brighton. By 1891 John Dennett Senior had become a successful furniture dealer and broker with a shop at 57 Lewes Road and a store at 78 Franklin Road. He was still in business after the First World War. His wife, Charlotte, another Brightonian, bore him ten children, mostly girls, over a period of about 16 years, from the late 1880s to the early 1900s.
John Dennett Junior is unaccountably missing from the 1911 census, but would have been 20 at the time, just old enough to run Dennett's Corner on his own, but more probably in partnership with his mother or his two elder sisters, Florence and Emily. The teashop may have opened only on summer weekends, when the Dyke attracted most visitors.
The death of a John R. C. Dennett was registered at West Ham in London in 1965. At 74, he was the right age to have been the former Dyke entrepreneur, but further evidence, such as his death certificate, is needed to try to confirm a link with Brighton.To directory of publishers
Design: Lucid Design