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The following extract is taken from John Timpson's book 'Timpson’s English Eccentrics' -

Thanks to the various interests the Prince Regent had in Brighton, the Steyne became a popular venue for the fashionable set to promenade and preen in front of the peasantry, and one or two ambitious locals joined in. Undoubtably the most eccentric Brighton beau was one Henry Cope, known to everyone as “The Green Man of Brighton”…..Henry Cope was gripped by green. A contemporary writer records every detail: “Green pantaloons, green waistcoat, green frock coat, green cravat; and though his ears, whiskers, eyebrows and chin were powdered, his countenance, no doubt from the reflection of his clothes, was also green. He ate nothing but green fruits and vegetables, had his rooms painted green, and furnished with green sofa, green chairs, green table, green bed and green curtains. His gig, his livery, his portmanteau, his gloves and his whip were all green. With a green silk handkerchief in his hand. And a large watch-chain with green seals fastened to the green buttons of his green waistcoat, he paraded every day on the Steyne”.

The public loved ‘The Green Man of Brighton’. The Lewes and Brighthelmstone Journal  noted that ‘ the Green Man continues daily to amuse the Steyne promenaders with his eccentricities’, and an old local history records proudly that ‘Brighton, in its merry days, could turn all other eccentrics green with envy. The specialized greenness of the Green Man still keeps green his memory’. But not everyone was so eenthusiastic. In 1806, a contributor to the Journal signing himself merely ‘Quiz’, wrote a poem about Henry Cope which started favourably , then fell away:

               A spruce little man in a doublet of green
               Perambulates daily the streets and the Steyne.
               Green striped is his waistcoat, his small-clothes are green,
               And oft round his neck a green ‘kerchief is seen.
               Green watch-string, green seals, and, for certain, I’ve heard,
               (Tho’ they’re powdered) green whiskers, and eke a green beard.
               Green garters, green hose, and, deny it who can,
               The brains, too, are green, of this green little man!

….a fortnight later he featured again in the Journal when he “leaped from the window of his lodging on the South parade, into the street, ran from thence to the verge of the cliff nearly opposite, and threw himself over the precipice to the beach below”.

It seemed like a dramatic end to the story ….and indeed many historians have treated it that way and called it suicide, but in fact Henry Cope survived the twenty-foot drop. Perhaps it would have been better if he hadn’t. Five days later the Journal noted sadly: “Mr Cope, the Green Man, is pronounced out of danger from his bruises; but his intellects have continued so impaired as to render a straight waistcoat necessary”.


For many years, Henry Cope's family owned Bramshill - a Jacobean mansion in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire. This building is now the National Police Library and  reputed to be one of the most haunted buildings in England including 'The Green Man' on its list of a dozen resident ghosts.  "When he died he was wearing brown hessian boots and it is believed that when his ghost is seen these are transparent".


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