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Walking the Globe from London to Brighton

I recently purchased a very strange photograph which apparently had been found under floorboards in a house in Burgess Hill. Then, much to my surprise, I found a postcard which shows a different view of the same event.

At least three of the people in both views are the same. Perhaps they are Mdlle Florence’s minders? Can anyone date this event and tell me why it happened? The postcard was published by ‘Rapid Art Photography. Brighton Palace Pier’, it is undated.

Walking the globe
From the private collection of David Ransom
Walking the globe
From the private collection of David Ransom

Comments about this page

  • I think this is the London solicitors’ walk from London to Brighton which was a yearly event. I recall seeing a photo similar to this taken at the Kings Head Pub in Albourne.

    By Bob (13/08/2008)
  • The lady depicted was Mademoiselle Florence who, in June 1903, walked her 2 foot diameter globe from London to Brighton over a period of 3 days and 22 hours.  She was reputed to be the Champion Globe Walker of the World and appeared regularly at the Empire Theatre. Here she demonstrated feats such as descending a flight of steps and performing dance routines upon her globe.  Globe walking was popularised as a music hall and variety act, particularly by a Madame Alphonsine about 20 years prior to this.

    By Andy Grant (15/08/2008)
  • Florence shown walking on the globe was my great-grandmother. I have been searching for a photograph of this for several years.

    By Simone Williamson (16/01/2009)
  • Hi Simone, I’m glad you have found this photograph at last. Would you like a better scan?

    By David Ransom (10/03/2009)
  • I googled the lady globe walker this evening because earlier today I came across a similar photo and reference in ‘Victorian and Edwardian Sussex From Old Photographs’ by James S Gray ISBN 071340311 pub BT Batsford London. The book states that she took approximately a week to cover the distance from London to Brighton, on a 75lb ball, arriving at the Aquarium in Brighton at 2.45pm on Sunday 21 June 1903, having reputedly worn through 7 pairs of boots. Apparently she got off at each mile marker and rested 3 hours per day. I was hoping to find out more…

    By Kahn Priestley (02/06/2009)
  • I have just seen the message posted about Florence walking the globe asking if I would like a better scan of the photographs posted here. I would appreciate that very much if that is still possible.

    By Simone Williamson (29/11/2010)
  • We have a different picture of her on a post card.

    By Willis Thorpe (26/03/2011)
  • A belated comment re the London to Brighton Globe Walk: there’s a full article in the Sussex Daily News of Monday the 22nd June, 1903 in which it’s stated that Mlle Florence arrived at the Aquarium “in the small hours” (of Sunday 21st June) – so presumably around 2.45am. Her original intention was to merely access the Borough of Brighton (which at that date would have been close to Harrington Road in Preston where she, by chance, took a rest on the way into the town). Despite the late hour of her arrival, the crowds who had gathered to welcome her delayed her final arrival at the sea front.

    By Peter Booth (05/05/2011)
  • I am working on a research project about this woman, and the Edwardian period, the lives of women etc. Mademoiselle Florence is an intriguing and inspiring example of a woman of that period. If anyone could supply me with any more biographical information about her I would really appreciate it. Especially the lady who is her great granddaughter! Thanks.

    By Tara Gould (03/06/2011)
  • I too am a distant relative of this incredible lady. The photo I have has been taken from the front of the ball and the gentleman standing next to Florence is my great-grandfather Isaac Thomas West. Isaac went on to marry Florence’s sister Susan (my great grandmother). Thank you for the other photos which are of a much better quality than the one I have.

    By Rhonda Fardon (21/08/2011)
  • How did she keep her balance on that ball for 3 days?!


    By Aaron (09/12/2013)
  • Mlle Florence appeared at Brighton Hippodrome in the week beginning 3 August 1903, already billed as ‘champion globe walker of the world’. She had been filmed on her approach to Brighton by ‘Hove pioneer’ George Albert Smith.

    By David Fisher (21/08/2016)
  • Hello, I also found a postcard from this “walk”. Please can you send me a HD scans from yours? Thank you. [Hello Remi, it may take some time for your request to be read and responded to as Mr Ranson, who has the ordinal postcards, may not look at this site regularly. Best wishes, Editing Team]

    By Remi Bragard (09/10/2017)
  • Thanks to David Ransom for starting this fascinating research about Madame Florence . I have a third Postcard from this series which was one of the first postcards published and taken by the first woman press photographer Christina Broom who worked under her invalided husbands name as Mrs Albert Broom. Her work was the subject of a major exhibition last year at the Museum of London where the image was published in the excellent catalogue by Anna Sparham. The pose Broom took shows her arm on her hip and it would be good to know if the different other subjects in the photograph can be identified. The card is numbered 1212 and appears in her first catalogue issued in 1993,  her numbering began at 1200. Let me know if you already have this card. I am about to post on Instagram as part of an account dedicated to early women photographers 1840 to 1949 under the banner @ Sisters Of The Lens.

    By Terence Pepper (10/06/2018)
  • In 1903, Anna Florence was bet $2500 she could not walk from London to Brighton in 6 days but she made it in five. I’m doing research on this in the USA due to an old newspaper article. Thank you for posting this.

    By Dylan (25/04/2021)

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