5. Norwich (7 of 12)

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Francis Christian and his descendants (4 of 4)

By 1793 he was facing serious competition. John Browne remained a few feet away. Mr Lalliet of Yarmouth tried and failed to get a foothold in Norwich in January. In July piracy by Mr Matthews was dealt with successfully. The third raiding party had style and it won. On 31 August 1793 Augustin Noverre advertised at length and with much puffing that his son, Francis, was to be established as a dancing master at the Assembly House, the very best address for such a practice, in the former town-house of the Hobart family. I suspect that the Noverrres did a recce, identified a failing practice at an unfashionable location, found a smart address elsewhere and appropriated it.

Not unchallenged, however. Francis Noverre advertised his ‘DANCING ACADEMY’ on 20 |September. In the next edition of the Mercury Edward advertised his pupils’ ball at the Assembly House, where he had never held such events 20 before. We don’t know whether this counter-attack took place; such events were rarely reported in the press.

Edward made a strategic retreat to his Great Room and deployed reinforcements: Fashion and Capital Letters:

Mr Christian, having been solicited to open an ACADEMY for giving instruction in REELS, SCOTCH STEPS and present mode of COUNTRY DANCES … will give attention 2 evenings a week at his own rooms. NB 1 evening for Ladies, 1 for Gentlemen.’

Segregation was no doubt practised to spare the blushes of the average Englishman, but at last we learn what Edward was teaching.

While Francis Noverre hogged the Assembly House, Edward continued at Redwell Street – under pressure. In 1794 he advertised that ‘he denies he intends to retire’. John Browne made a copycat denial two weeks later. This was probably a desperate appeal to disappearing pupils. On 25 September 1794 Noverre advertised his ‘FIRST ANNUAL BALL since his establishment in this City’ at the Assembly House.

John Browne’s death was advertised on 10 August 1799 and debts called in; his practice had been failing – or rather his pupils failed to pay their master. In 1800 Edward was still teaching in Norwich and Yarmouth. Peck’s Directory 1802 lists him as dancing master at 11 Redwell Street. This may have been a new practice address or an old home address where he now practised.

On 2 August 1804 Edward Christian ‘Gentleman’ died. There was no family succession to the Great Room. Mr Bailey advertised on 12 January 1805 that he had bought the practice from Mrs Christian and would move it to 1 St Stephen’s Street, promising all that was Fashionable to his pupils (further details of Mr Bailey’s practice appear below). Mrs Christian is Edward’s widow; Elizabeth, Francis III’s widow, died in 1797.

In 1812, when Bailey died, Noverre bought his practice and Rooms at 1 St Stephen’s Street to add to his own. No other dancing master occupied the Great Room at Redwell Street. a century-old practice had come to an end.

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