The History of Chichester House
The carcasses of the early houses built in Kemp Town were erected by local builder, George Stafford and a handful of others. Many of these, during or not long after the completion of works, were declared bankrupt. (Berry, and Berry, Osborne and Adutt, op cit). Mr Budgen did much of Kemp’s surveying work and Mr. Harris was, for many years, his steward. Berry offers that it was Faithful is the person who negotiated all of his enclosure work. It would (op cit) seem likely he also handled the deeds for all of the Kemp Town properties (from the landowner’s side of negotiations).
This brings us to the matter of who built Chichester House. Was it Kemp, using Stafford for the carcass, or another developer and, perhaps, a different builder?
Setting aside, for a moment, the issue of whether the shell was constructed for Kemp, at least one other party with an interest in Chichester House (or the land upon which it stands) can be identified, in part due to an entry in the back of the 1938 auction catalogue for the property. This reads:
‘The property is sold subject to the covenants restrictions and provisions contained in an Indenture dated the 28th day of January 1826 and made between George Faithfull of the one part and Thomas Reed Kemp of the other part and an Indenture dated the 1st day of January 1870 and made between Mary Anne Cubitt, George Cubitt and Andrew Cuthell of the one part and George Dawson Rowley of the other part.
Focusing on the earlier of the two Indentures, we see that Faithfull had entered into an arrangement with Kemp in early-1826.
The earliest work to establish Kemp Town was in 1822, when the excavation and leveling of land for the development was begun. In 1823 Kemp was busy enclosing the gardens to the estate. By 1824, he had some house carcasses awaiting buyers, he had already borrowed £42,000 at this point, and by January 1826 most of the remaining carcasses Kemp was to fund were ready for sale.
Faithfull’s appearance, as the first named party in an Indenture at this time suggests, most likely, that he had some interest in the land upon which Chichester House is built, or in the property itself. Whether, he had this as a friend and business associate (akin to Scutt’s wife’s trustees) - coming in to
assist Kemp at the outset of the project - or whether he becomes involved as Kemp finds himself in financial difficulty, is currently unclear.
By 1829, numerous properties were ready for occupation, including a house in Chichester Terrace, reports the Brighton Herald. Could this be Chichester House? Interestingly, although no firm evidence is offered to support this either way, in the building development records held at Hove Town Hall is an entry against the Chichester House file that reads, ‘constructed 1828’.
This leads to an obvious question, if constructed prior to 1832, who built and who lived in Chichester House during the early years of its life, before it was occupied by George Proctor?
Assuming it was finished prior to Proctor’s arrival, the House was used by an individual for whom we do not currently have a record. Was it perhaps Kemp’s solicitor, Faithful, who occupied the building at this time? We certainly see him in residence later, in 1848.
Supporting the view that Faithful was the initial resident is an unreferenced entry in Dale’s, Fashionable Brighton, which states: ‘He [Faithful] owned a house on the estate from 1828 onwards’ This would work well if he acquired a land/financial interest in 1826. Construction and finishing could have occurred 1826-28, with Faithful occupying the building 1828-1832; by then Britain was in great economic difficulty and it was perhaps an opportune moment to divest of the commitment to such a large property.
Another intriguing pointer to Faithful’s early involvement was offered to the author in a recent private discussion when it was asserted that Faithful rented the House between 1826 and 1828 to the Rev. Robert Fennell.
It is recorded, in an entry on the ‘Clifton Montpelier Powis Community Alliance’ website that, during the latter part of 1828, Fennell leased Kemp’s ‘Temple’, over near the Hove border, at an annual rent of £300, for use as a young gentlemen’s academy. See: http://www.cmpcaonline.org.uk/page_id__203_path__0p36p21p55p.aspx
The building remained in this use, via Fennel’s descendants, until it was taken over by the Girls Public Day School Trust in 1880.
An intriguing piece of evidence that might support this idea is that in 1828 Fennell auctioned many goods and is recorded as moving to the Temple, in the auction advertisement. Was he assembling funds with which to pay for the move to a larger building?
The advertisement, which may be read to suggest he had additional property interests elsewhere, reads:
‘The remaining HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE and EFFECTS of the Rev. Robert Fennell, removing to the Temple, at Brighton; comprising bedsteads and hangings, beds, wardrobes four winged and other capital bookcases, loo, card, and breakfast tables, sideboard, chimney and pier glasses, a very large china bowl (contents 15 galions), wIndow curtains, carpets, philosophical instruments, and electrical apparatuss. The Paintings include specimens of the following Artists, viz. :- Teniers, Marillo, Whichelo ; Baptiste, Cuyp, Sir Peter Lely, Zecharelli, Guido, Sweickhardt, N. Pousain, Salvator Rosa, Monamy, Breughel Polemberg, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Moriand, Barber, Wilson, and others -, with twelve Pictures by Nasmyth, bought by the proprietor from the easel of that highly-esteemed artist. To be viewed on, Saturday preceding, when catalogues may be had on the Premises; at the Rose and Crown, Wimbledon, Red Lion, Putney, Spread Eagle, Wandsworth; and of Winstanley and Sons, Paternoster-row. ‘
‘Morning Chronicle’ on 27 September 1828
(Note - This fascinating advert reveals the type of material that might have been associated with the people once living at Chichester House.)
It was also offered that Faithful then occupied the building between 1828 and Proctor’s arrival in 1832. As this information has only recently come to light, it has not yet been possible to discover any additional information that confirms or refutes this claim but efforts will be made to do so, in the future.
Meantime, it must be remembered that it is plausible that building works were slow to be completed and occupation was not possible until 1832, when it was definitely leased to the Rev. George Proctor D.D., as a young gentleman’s Boarding Academy.
Hopefully, reference to East Sussex Record Office documents, the deeds for Chichester House, and stylistic analysis of other properties in the estate and more widely across Brighton, will, in due course, help determine who brought the property to a finished state and when.
The rest of the Terrace, whatever the story that relates to Chichester House, was slow to develop. Local Directories of the 1840s and 1850 evidence the evolution of property along the Terrace. Throughout the 1830s, 40s and until 1856, only Chichester House (usually styled No,.1) and Nos, 11, 12 and 13 appear in print. In 1856, Chichester House is labeled separately and Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 11, 12 and 13 are recorded.
In her work, ‘Thomas Cubitt; Master Builder’, Universe Books, (1971), Hermione Hobhouse confirms this point, saying,
“The terrace remained an unsightly vacant lot next to Chichester House, until on the advice of Arthur Tiler, his Brighton manager, Cubitt began building there in the early 1850s.”
The second indenture mentioned in the 1938 auction catalogue perhaps suggests that it was the Cubitt’s who purchased Chichester House in the 1842 sale. This idea is visited in more detail later in the text.
Proctor is an interesting character as is revealed in a, ‘Recollections of a Sussex Parson’ by the Rev. Edward Boys Ellman, 1912. The book is reproduced and available through Amazon (see, Recollections of Sussex Parson: Rev. Edward Boys Ellman 1815-1906 Rector of Berwick, East Sussex).
In this publication, we see that the Rev. Dr George Proctor was appointed headmaster at the Grammar School in Lewes in 1821/22, moved to become the headmaster of Elizabeth College in Guernsey in 1829 and returned to Kemptown, Brighton in 1832, when he established a new school at Chichester House. Thus we are offered a firm starting point for the possible first use of the house as a school. It is certainly continuing in that use when, in 1842, 27 lots of Kemp’s property are auctioned by George Robins at the Old Ship on 17 and 18 Jan, for, in the particulars of sale, it is reported, ‘Chichester House on Chichester Place (leased to the Rev Dr Proctor)’. According to the Directory records and other sources, Dr Proctor continues in residence until 1846.
Proctor has six family members in the property and several ‘Assistants’. In addition to this, he has thirty pupils and ten servants. In total, 48 people are in the House. Undoubtedly, he would have had to sustain a hierarchy within the operation of the school, this most likely required that the servants were accommodated in the basement and rear wing of the House.
There is no known 1847 Directory entry but, by 1848, George Faithful is noted as the resident. As has already been raised, interesting questions abound in relation to Faithful. Is this the first time he has occupied the building? Was he a resident in the period prior to 1832 and the arrival of Proctor?
There is no known Directory entry for 1849 either, but in 1850 the Rev Dr Cary is recorded to have taken possession of the property. He remained in situ, once again running the property as a young gentleman’s academy, until at least 1859 - there is no entry for 1860. In 1861, the census shows just two servants in the House, Edwin Streak acting as a servant/painter and Mary Streak, servant. This would suggest the property was undergoing refurbishment.
The next identifiable occupant is Sir Charles Jackson, who appears in the 1864 Directory. Sir Charles resides at the property until 1869 or 1870, at
which time he is replaced by George Dawson Rowley Esq. Rowley appears in all subsequent Directories until 1878.
There are several House related issues that seem to coordinate with Rowley’s arrival in 1870. At least some of the ESRO plans of 1870 are for works undertaken on behalf of the Rowley’s (see the drawings relating to the proposed stabling). It seems likely the ‘Proposed new railings’ are also being fitted on their behalf.
The property deeds referenced in the 1938 auction particulars mention, ‘an Indenture dated the 1st day of January 1870 and made between Mary Anne Cubitt, George Cubitt and Andrew Cuthell of the one part and George Dawson Rowley of the other part’
Thomas Cubitt died on 20 December 1855, in his Will he had nominated Mary Anne, George Cubitt, and Andrew Cuthell, the husband of his elder sister, Mary, as trustees, providing them with precise instructions as to the method to be used to realise his building assets. It is Cubitt’s trustees that are involved with Rowley in 1870, albeit Cubitt had an involvement with Kemp Town from the outset. For further information about Cubitt’s trustees, see: Friends of West Norwood Cemetery (FOWNC) Newsletter No 40. January 2001.
In 1879, Mrs George Rowley publisher memoirs of her husband’s life and from 1880 to 1899 she is recorded as the principal resident in local Directories. In the 1881 census she is absent from the House but it is still clearly being used as a main home; there being many servants still in residence that year.
The 1885 greenhouse plans and the 1893 drainage updates are both undertaken for Mrs Rowley. The second of these works no doubt done to conform with changing sanitary regulations rather than as an elective activity.
The House is empty in 1900. In 1901, only a handful of servants are recorded.
In 1902, T G Dickinson Esq in in residence. His family is to remain so until 1909, the year following his death. Remarkably, for a woman who seems so keen on experimentation, there are no records of any alterations being undertaken while Maude Dickinson was in residence.
In 1912 Capt TD Butler CVO is recorded as the resident, Over the years he comes to style himself, Capt Sir Thomas Dacres KCVO JP. As is documented elsewhere in this report, Sir Thomas Dacres Butler, takes on the role of Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod and Secretary to the Lord Great Chamberlain, and while holding these positions has a Parliamentary buildings. Once he has taken possession of Chichester House however, it seems that he is keen to retain the property thereafter and he maintains ownership until his death.
While Butler was in possession he seems to have taken steps to dress the property so as to reflect its Regency origins. This can be seen in the photos held by the Regency Society as a part of it’s ‘Antony Dale’ archive. These images show:
A wonderful gilt mirror with Chinamen, quatrefoil, foliate and sea monster ornament. It seems likely this is an original piece.
A fine side table in Regency (Royal Pavilion) style, probably lacquered and with gilded dragon brackets. It seems likely this is a decorator’s piece made during the early-20th C Regency revival period.
A gilt picture frame with portrait of Geo IV. Assumed original.
A fine marble fire piece with original Regency cast-iron fire centre (the latter, typical of local style).
A bust to the staircasde niche, possibly Geo III. Assumed original.
A Regency chandelier, Assumed original.
A gilt picture frame. Assumed original.
A small fireplace. Difficult to assess in the available photo. Might be a simple Regency piece with added Adamesque motifs.
Regency style x-frame seat. Assumed original.
Empire style bed.
Rug. Difficult to assess in the available photo
The furniture and fittings in the photos would seem to speak of a mind keen to set up a home with strong historical references. Perhaps appropriate for a man with such close links to the long-established Lords.
Sir Thomas dies in 1937. It is those handling his estate that action the sale of the property in 1938, for which an auction catalogue exists (see: ESRO amsgg/AMS6621/5/56).
Following the sale, and between 1938 and 1947, the House was converted to apartments.
The first of the plans found to propose this are dated August 1938, following the auction sale of the property on 3 May, and are drawn up for J Hardy Esq by Overton and Massey Chartered Architects and Surveyors of 58-59 West
St, Brighton ( Mr A Hardy Junior, hereafter, is the long term resident on the ground floor of the property, living there until at least the mid-1970s). The plans of 1938 provide strong evidence for the location of a rear stairway sited at the intersection between the main house and rear wing.
It is currently unclear if the House was definitely converted before or after the Second World War. Reference to a Directory between 1938 and 1945 should quickly resolve this matter but a copy has not yet become available for view by the author.
Several indicators of possible pre-war conversion exist, however. First, the style of partition applied to the individual flats, which is visible in the 1980s fire-damage photos, would suggest pre-war activity. Second, given that Mr D.L. Murray, is noted as having been a resident during the war years and he moves, in 1943, to a flat in Rottingdean, it is perhaps likely that he moved out of a flat, rather than a whole house.
In 1964, Mr J A Hardy of Chichester House, presumably the same man who had made the application for conversion to flats in 1938, entered a, ‘Plan of proposed additional rooms to ground floor’. This development was to extend the rear section of what is now the home of Ms Juliette Wright.
In 1965, Mr J A Hardy made a further application, this time entering a, ‘Plan & Elevation of proposed block of lock up garages with flat above at the rear of Chichester House’. This scheme does not appear to have been built. It is clear in this plan that the extensive garden behind the house still existed at this time.
The other residents of the property following conversion, none of who seem to have played a significant role in altering the House, are noted in the occupancy and biography sections of this document.
In the early-1980s, fire swept through the building, resulting in the redevelopment application submitted to the local authority at that time. An extensive set of plans and photographs of this period exist.
The uncertainty regarding the build-date of the property, the initial builders and client is frustrating, leaving as it does, the period between 1826 and 1832 unaccounted for. Hopefully, these matters will be clarified when the deeds to the House, etc., are examined.
From 1832 the occupancy and development story is fairly clear. All current evidence would suggest the property comprised, by 1832, the main house, a small rear wing, now the home of Ms Juliette Wright and a large rear garden, walled in on the W side but not, then, fully railed.
In 1870, under the direction of George Dawson Rowley, new stables were built to the NE corner of the site and iron railings, matching those already present, were introduced to the W side of the whole property. Subsequently, in the late-19th C, greenhouse work was undertaken and improved drains laid.
With these relatively minor alterations the building survived, largely intact, until conversion to apartments was undertaken, most likely in 1938.
Even following conversion, the main components of the original property were still largely in place. They remained so until the fire of the 1980s.
Although the application to rebuild at that time states the intention to largely maintain the original layout and features, the quality of works undertaken are such that much has now been significantly altered and downgraded in terms of fabric quality.
Using the various records already identified and with relatively little additional research it would be possible to lay down a specification to return the property to a high level of repair and refurbishment. Reacquiring the character and quality of the original historic home.
SCHOOLS ON THE ESTATE
There were a large number of schools on the Estate throughout its history, particularly in Sussex Square. Nearly all of them were boarding schools and virtually every school had pupils who were born far afield to parents serving the British Empire. It is interesting to speculate through our knowledge of the miserable childhoods of Rudyard Kipling and H.H.Munro just how these children fared.
A Scholar at Chichester House
George Logan is listed in the 1851 census as a pupil at James Cary’s school in Chichester House. Aged 12 he was one of the youngest in the school of 15 pupils the oldest of whom was 18. Only one other teacher is listed apart from Dr. Cary and his family and five servants.
George Eugene Logan, born in India in 1839 where his father, Major General George Maxwell Logan, was serving. He followed his father into the Army, eventually becoming a Major in the 2nd Dragoon Guards. That regiment was in India between 1857-1869 ( including action during the Indian Mutiny 1857-59). George married Louisa Thomson in Musoorie, Bengal in 1863. They had one son Guy Bertie Logan (1869-1947), who was born in Hastings after they had returned to England, and two daughters Violet and Eugenie May The regiment returned to England in 1869 and George Eugene Logan and family appear in the census of 1871 in the garrison town of Colchester. He died in 1875 aged 36.