Brighton and Hove – major developments

We inhabit worrying times where major developments are being forced through without full local consultation, and often with little benefit to the local community save for the temporary construction jobs. It is worth keeping an eye on planning applications and commenting wherever possible and encouraging friends and associates to do the same. Make no mistake. Greater Brighton and the Mega Blocks are coming along and the character of our great city has never been at greater risk.

preston-barracks-2 preston-barracks-development

Preston Barracks – proposal to redevelop as mixed use development (planning records here) *Recommended for saving by Brighton and Hove City Council in 2011 paper, complete demolition now being allowed.

astoria-brighton astoria-plans

Astoria proposal for demolition for  73 flats (planning records here) *Note: the Astoria is Grade II listed.

anston-house anston-house-megablock

Anston House – proposed redevelopment into 231 flats with Megablock proposal (planning records here)


King Alfred Leisure Centre (formerly WWII Land ship used for training 22,500 men and women for the Navy) proposed redevelopment (planning records here) for 560 flats with a leisure centre. A dangerous precedent for seafront development if it happens.

Moshimo Mash-up


Japanese-restaurant Moshimo has submitted new plans for a major £4 million expansion at their existing Brighton premises in Bartholomew Square in the form of new concrete box in the sky according to the Brighton Argus.

Extraordinary as this seems (how many restaurants, after all, have a spare £4m to spend on an extension, and how do they intend to recoup this investment?), this is worrying on two counts:

A: It is completely inappropriate in style and scale for Brighton and will be obtrusive and visible from many vantage points.

B: If approved it would set a disastrous precedent for other brutalist planning applications to get the green light (and increasing numbers seem to be joining the planning application pipeline).

We urge all heritage lovers who feel as we do to oppose this planning application here

We concede that Bartholomew Square is not the prettiest and has already been largely ruined, but this addition will not help and will infringe on the rest of the city.

Nor can this project be regarded as ‘progress’ as it is simply harking back to the 1960s love affair with concrete and box shapes.

Brighton is predominantly a ‘Regency’ city in style.  New developments should respect this and be sensitive and appropriate.

We allow our civic character and identity (not to mention USP) to be destroyed at our peril.

Brunswick Festival 2016

BHHC stall 2016 (1)
Averil Older, Roger Amerena and Val Brown

Brunswick Festival

Despite a squall or two BHHC enjoyed a wonderful weekend at Brunswick Festival with lots of heritage lovers stopping for a chat and to ask about joining.

It is fitting that the Festival is held in this wonderful Regency Square every August (this being its 35th year) as this is a splendid example of a heritage area which was threatened with demolition but saved by people power in the 1940s for posterity to enjoy.

Harriot Mellon – blue plaque unveiling, Friday 12th August 2016

Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission were proud to be part of this wonderful event.

As reported in the Brighton Argus:

A BLUE plaque in memory of Regency society beauty Harriot Mellon, who married a man old enough to be her grandfather and another young enough to be her son, was unveiled in Brighton yesterday by her descendant, the Duke of St Albans.

In a speech watched by civic dignitaries, the 14th Duke of St Albans caused laughter when he declared Harriot his “favourite duchess” – with the obvious exception of his wife, the Duchess of St Albans, who was standing next to him.

He then unveiled the plaque on the wall of The Regency restaurant on the corner of Regency Square and the King’s Road. It reads: Actress Harriot Mellon Duchess of St Albans and Brighton socialite stayed here 1830-37.
He said: “I’m honoured to have this plaque in her memory. She was a remarkable woman who deserves to be remembered with admiration.

“She was my favourite duchess because she was such a character – in fact, she would have been considered quite vulgar by some people.

“She felt more at home in Brighton – Brighton people took to her more than other places. She was such a generous character and that is always a special quality. That is what I liked about her.”

In a welcome speech at the ceremony, Councillor Mo Marsh, the city’s deputy mayor, said: “The plaque is to remember a particular individual who added so much life to her adopted home.

“She was a woman who made her mark by taking the opportunities she had, and Brighton and Hove has reason to be grateful to this strong woman.”

Roger Amerena, of the Brighton and Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel, told the audience that the plaque replaces an old Brighton Corporation one that had become difficult to read. Emilio and Rovertos Savvides, the owners of The Regency restaurant, funded the plaque.

Also at the ceremony were members of the Brighton and Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel, Hugh Macpherson of the Royal Stuart Society, past mayors of Brighton and Hove including Lynda Hyde, Brian Fitch and Francis Tonks, and representatives from The Friends of Regency Square, Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission and Regency Square Area Society.

 Photos of event at The News Co here and at Brighton Bits here


BEAUTIFUL and vivacious, flamboyant and compassionate, the life of Harriot Mellon was extraordinary even for Regency times.

Born in 1777 as the illegitimate daughter of strolling players – travelling theatre groups then considered to be in the lowest depths of society – she followed her parents into acting, making her debut at the age of 10.

She was talent-spotted by the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who was “impressed by her rosy-cheeked good looks and acting ability”, and he secured her a season at the Drury Lane Theatre in London.

She was successful, known for her comic abilities and was understudy to great actresses of the time including Dorothea Jordan and Sarah Siddons, often praised for her professionalism and good humour.

Her best known role was as Volante in The Honey Moon in 1805, the year before a portrait of her was painted by the painter Charles Turner was published. She was also painted by Sir William Beechey in 1815.

It was during her career on stage that she caught the eye of Thomas Coutts, who had founded the bank Coutts and Co, now famously patronised by the royal family.

He was married to Elizabeth Starkey, with whom he and had three daughters but Harriot became his mistress and when his wife died in 1815, they were married – when he was 80 and she was 35.

Their marriage was held in secret to avoid the wrath of his daughters and when he finally told them, they were furious. During their marriage he had to protect her from his daughters’ anger – yet the couple were happily married until he died in 1822.

Thomas left her his entire estate, including his 50 per cent stake in Coutts and Co, making her the richest woman in Europe with a fortune of millions of pounds.

She ran the bank and promoted Thomas’ confidential clerk Andrew Dickie to partner, while trying to placate Thomas’s three daughters by giving them an allowance of £10,000 each a year. Sadly, it did not warm them to her.

During her widowhood, she held parties at her houses in Piccadilly and Highgate and spent time at her house in Regency Square in Brighton.

In 1827, she scandalised society by marrying William Beauclerk, the 9th Duke of St Albans, who was 23 years her junior and “something of a fool and a booby”, according to the book Lady Unknown by Edna Healey. He wooed Harriot for two years – he wanted her money and she wanted his title.

Her “old and true friend” Sir Walter Scott wrote to congratulate her on her marriage and she replied: “What a strange, eventful life has mine been, from a poor little player child, with just food and clothes to cover me, dependent on a very precarious profession, without talent or a friend in the world – first the wife of the best, the most perfect being that ever breathed and now the wife of a duke. You must write my life my true history written by the author of Waverley.”

However, as a result of the marriage, she became the subject of cartoon caricature in “a series of attacks which were carried on for years with a malicious persistence difficult to parallel”, according to her biographer Charles Pearce.

She was depicted as a “stout female of bulging endowments” like melons, and also with moustache and whiskers.

During her marriage, Harriot began to develop a close friendship with Angela Burdett, the youngest of Thomas’s grandchildren, inviting her to balls and dinners at her Brighton house and hawking parties on the Downs.

She saw how Harriot gave gifts to the starving people of Ireland and she travelled with her, Harriot like a princess with coaches and wagons, couriers and servants and always a casket of love letters from her first husband Thomas.

Her health began to break down in 1836 and she died a year later in London, leaving her husband an allowance of £10,000 a year.

during his lifetime and the use of her two properties in London.

The bulk of her estate, worth around £1.8 million, went to Angela, who was required to change her surname to Burdett-Coutts but was excluded from partnership in the bank. With the money, Angela became one of the greatest philanthropists of the Victorian age.

Theodore Wright V.C. – Blue Plaque Unveiling Ceremony

Photographs ©Tony Mould: My Brighton and Hove.

With thanks to Tony for his kind permission to use his pictures of the unveiling ceremony. A splendid event blessed with fine weather and befitting to this local war hero. Brighton Argus coverage here.
Theodore Wright VC 200Theodore Wright VC 168Theodore Wright VC 176Theodore Wright VC 109Theodore Wright VC 163Theodore Wright VC 214Theodore Wright VC 204Theodore Wright VC 043Theodore Wright VC 115Theodore Wright VC 073Theodore Wright VC 081Theodore Wright VC 091Theodore Wright VC 134Theodore Wright VC 100


119 Lansdowne Place, Hove

11.30 Standards Muster with Official Party at Wavertree House, Somerhill Road

11.40 Standards March on with Official Party

11.50 Arrival of Her Worshipful The Mayor of The City of Brighton & Hove, Cllr. Lynda Hyde

11.55 Arrival of The Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Mr Peter Field

Welcome address by

Her Worshipful The Mayor of The City of Brighton & Hove Cllr. Lynda Hyde

Address by Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Brown, Royal Engineers.

The unveiling of the commemorative plaque by The Lord Lieutenant

Last Post

One minute silence


Wreath and flag laying by Mr. Dudley Button, Royal British Legion

Family to lay flowers


by The Venerable Martin Lloyd Williams, The Archdeacon of Brighton and Lewes

National Anthem led by

The Salvation Army trumpeter Mr. Bram Warren

Closing address by

Roger Amerena, Interim Chairman, Brighton and Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel.


Official Party and Guests proceed to Wavertree House.

Public Unveiling of Captain Theodore Wright V.C. on 6th May 2016

Theodore Wright VC 1st proofCaptain Wright

Friday 6th May 2016 11.30am for noon
Public Ceremony at 119 Lansdowne Place, Hove

All welcome.

Theodore Wright was born at 119 Lansdowne Place, Hove, on 15th May 1883. He was educated at Clifton College and went to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. In October 1902 he joined the Royal Engineers and after serving in Gibraltar and Cairo he was made Lieutenant in June 1905.

At the start of the First World War Captain Wright was serving in the 57th Field Company of the Royal Engineers. He was immediately sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force and arrived at Mons on 22nd August 1914. The following day he was detailed to supervise the destruction of eight bridges over the canal.

It was whilst attempting to connect the leads under one bridge that Theodore Wright earned his Victoria Cross. Although wounded by shrapnel early in the operation, Wright continued to set charges under the bridges. Working with Lance-Corporal Charles Jarvis, they managed to destroy Jemappes Bridge.

At Vailly, on the 14th September 1914, Theodore Wright assisted the passage of the 5th Cavalry Brigade over a pontoon bridge and was mortally wounded whilst assisting wounded men to shelter. An officer of the Scots Greys wrote in a letter later “At the end of the bridge was an Engineer officer repairing bits blown off and putting down straw as cool as a cucumber – the finest thing I ever saw. The poor fellow was killed just after my troops got across. No man earned a better Victoria Cross.”

Celebrating Middle Street Synagogue

250th Anniversary Poster

As part of the 250th anniversary celebrations of the Brighton and Hove Jewish Community this year, there will be a number of events co-inciding with Brighton Fringe in May raise money for ongoing restoration works to the splendid Grade II* listed Middle Street Synagogue, designed by Thomas Lainson (designer of many fine buildings in Brighton and Hove) and opened in 1875. Early booking is advised, and includes opportunities to marvel at the breathtaking interior first hand. The Synagogue, described as the second most important historic building in Brighton and Hove after the Pavilion, is still used for special events, and remains a landmark to Jewish history in England.

Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission are proud to support their efforts to maintain this architectural gem, right next door to another gem – the Brighton Hippodrome – hopefully now also on the road to restoration to its former glory. Also taking place:

Brighton & Hove Jewry 250

The Sussex Branch of the Jewish Historical Society of England presents:

A Special Anniversary Lecture by Dr Sharman Kadish

Director, Jewish Heritage UK

Middle Street Synagogue and the Architectural Heritage of Brighton & Hove’

Tuesday 10th May 2016 at Ralli Hall, Denmark Villas, Hove BN3 3TH

at 7.45 pm (Doors open 7.15 pm). Refreshments served after lecture.

Tickets £6.00 (JHSE members free) – available from Brighton Fringe website or on door.