Recollections of Kemp Town’s early days published in 1892
On 16th January 1892 the Brighton Herald published some recollections of Kemp Town sent to the paper by ‘an old resident’ of the Estate at that time. The article provoked a letter from another elderly former resident of Kemp Town adding his memories of the estate. Some weeks later the first correspondent followed up with further recollections which were duly published.
The text below transcribed from copies of the Brighton Herald held by Brighton & Hove Libraries service is incomplete where the text is damaged and illegible. I have added sub headings to break up the text which is otherwise presented in long, dense paragraphs, in the style of newspapers of the time. I have also added footnotes of explanation where this might be helpful to the reader.
There then follows excerpts concerning Kemp Town from the recollections of Mr. Somers Clarke, a resident of the town from 1827 until his death in 1892. Somers Clarke acted as Clerk to the Brighton Vestry from 1839 to 1892 and in this role, and as a solicitor in the town, had dealings with many of the principal characters of the town.
Who was the anonymous ‘old resident’ of 1892?
The identity of the anonymous contributor to the Brighton Herald is not recorded, but if we assume the writer to have been a man, a safe guess in all the circumstances, and a resident of Kemp Town proper, which he describes in his article, we can narrow down the field. From the stories he tells and the people he has clearly known, he would need to have been resident from as far back as the 1850’s, yet still resident at the time of the articles in 1892. Using these criteria to search census records and street directories for the Kemp Town Estate, the focus narrows to just one eligible person; William Baines.
William Baines, 1816-1901, a member of the Stock Exchange, was the first occupant of 40 Sussex Square. His name appears first in the street directories of 1856 and thereafter continuously for 45 years until 1901. At the 1891 census, he was 75 and widowed, living with 5 of his adult sons and daughters, supported by 5 servants.
Among the residents recorded, his profile uniquely fits the bill as our ‘old resident of Kemp Town’.
Andrew Doig 2017
Brighton Herald 16th January 1892
Memories of Kemp Town
An old resident of Kemp Town has sent us some notes about the earlier history of that fine quarter of Brighton, which we fancy will not be without interest.
Cubitt, prince of builders
Kemp Town secured its name from Mr Thomas Read Kemp, M.P. for Lewes, the first to build in that district, but it might almost with equal truth be called Cubitt Town, for to the late Mr. Cubitt it owes its present position. Between 60 and 70 years ago Kemp Town was in a state of coma. The fine mansions that now exist were carcases only, with the winds howling through them, and so they would have remained for many a long day had not the late Mr. Cubitt, that Prince of builders, seized hold of Kemp Town, roused it up, and infused into it life and hope. Thenceforth for 30 years until his death in 1855 - Cubitt’s firm became an ‘institution’ at the East End of Brighton.
A shocking spectacle
In the early part of the year 1848, a very singular and tragic event occurred. A young clerk of Cubitt’s, aged 16 years, had been missing for some little time. On a lady wishing to be shown over one of the empty houses in Sussex Square (then ready for letting) the boy was discovered hanging from the handrail over the well-hole of the staircase. He had committed suicide through a fit of jealousy. This shocking spectacle did not prevent the lady from hiring the house, but she insisted upon a great reduction being made in the rent, and something like £80 a year was taken off.
Cubitt completes Chichester Terrace
The manager to Mr. Cubitt’s estate for nearly the whole 30 years was Mr. Arthur Tiler whose early death in 1860 was a loss to Kemp Town. Up to about the year 1850, Kemp Town had not been remunerative to Mr. Cubitt; in fact, he had been heard to say that ‘the only mistake he ever made was in touching Kemp Town’. About this time, owing to the persistent and constant advice of Mr. Tiler, he consented to start the building of Chichester Terrace, but he decided to begin with the two houses only (now occupied by Mr. W. L. Winans) so cautious had Mr. Cubitt become regarding this property. Events proved Mr. Tiler’s judgement to have been sound, for the two houses were let before the roofs were on, and the same thing occurred in respect to the next house, No.3, started and built at the request of and for the late Mr. Arbuthnot, at a cost of £3,000. And so with the rest of the terrace: they were let or sold almost as soon as the foundations were laid.
Thomas Cubitt 1788-1855, speculative developer and builder of 37 of Kemp Town’s 105 houses, built large estates of speculative housing in Belgravia, South Kensington, Pimlico and Clapham. Well regarded for his high standards, he built Osborne House for Victoria and Albert. He lived at various of his houses on the Estate, settling at last at 13 Lewes Crescent.
W. L. Winans, an eccentric American millionaire, made his fortune by providing railways to Imperial Russia. He disliked England but stayed here to escape the harsh winters of Russia. He resided in Kensington and here at 1&2 Chichester Terrace 1861-1897.
Archibald Francis Arbuthnot, 1805-1879, attorney and banker at Madras, lived at 3 Chichester Terrace, between 1854 and 1867
W. Percival Boxall of Belle Vue Hall, Eastern Road. Belle Vue Court, a multi-storey block
of flats, built on the site.
Brighton’s Eastern frontage completed.
About the same time houses were begun to be erected in what is now known as Belgrave Place; and some five or six were also built at the bottom of the Western side of Eaton Place. Some four or five years previous to this, Mr. W. Percival Boxall, with courage and business skill worthy of Mr. Cubitt himself, had bought the ground and subsequently built Percival Terrace which a few years afterwards he followed up by building Clarendon Terrace, thus completing for the first time (with the exception of a small group to the West of Marine Square) the Eastern frontage of Brighton.
Painful progress on Chesham Road houses
After Mr. Cubitt’s death in 1855, his trustees began to move faster and to let the land on the advance system to small builders. One of the first to apply for the ground upon these terms was a builder, who started four houses in Chesham Road, then called Bristol Road East. He managed to get them just far enough advanced for his second draw of £120 when he disappeared, much regretted by his workmen, whose wages he had forgotten to pay. He has never been heard of since, but the workmen eventually obtained their wages through the kindness of Mr. Cubitt’s trustees. After a long delay, these houses were taken in hand by another builder, who was for many years foreman at Cubitt’s; but he had only just got them roofed in, when, in the exuberance of his spirits, he hanged himself to one of the lintels. The houses were eventually completed by contract in 1865, and the name of the road changed from Bristol Road East to Chesham Road.
A street elevated to a place
Some ten or twelve years previously Mr. Cubitt had built a few small houses in Chichester Street, but the tenants objecting to the title ‘street’ on account of its ‘low sound’, it was altered to ‘place’.
Jimmy Allwork’s last drink with Old Patch
Between 40 or 50 years ago the old Abergavenny Inn seemed to be really in the country, and its eccentric old landlord James ‘Jimmy’ Allwork was quite a local celebrity. A few Kemp Town tradesmen used to make it a solemn religious duty to assemble there every morning at 11 o’clock and turn for half a pint of ‘Old Tom’, the landlord being the presiding genius. Many Brightonians will remember an old Kemp Town tradesman who went by the name of ‘Old Patch’. The landlord was on his death bed (about forty years ago now) and the doctor told him he could not live the day out, when hearing the voice of ‘Old Patch’ in the bar below, he sent for him to bring up the old spinning jenny, and exclaimed, “Damn ye, Old Patch, I’ll turn ye for half-a pint of Old Tom for the last time”. This was gleefully agreed to, and two hours later old James Allwork passed away.
Abergavenny Arms stood on the clifftop at Black Rock until coastal erosion undermined it.
Spinning Jenny, a circular board marked with numbered segments with a free-moving central arm. Players would set the arrow spinning and bet on the segment it would rest upon, the loser buying a round of drinks.
The bachelor Duke takes the sea air
Text damaged here residents lived in Kemp Town text damaged years ago. The Old Duke of Devonshire would be frequently seen sitting text damaged Esplanade text damaged since called “The Duke’s Mound” in consequence – and on summer days sitting on Thunder’s Groyne, watching the boys bathing. He was said to have been a sad sufferer from hay fever, and he generally visited Brighton for the advantage of the sea air. The Duke was so patriotic that, on the outbreak of the Crimean War, he had the portrait of the Emperor Nicholas turned with its face to the wall. His Grace was a fine-looking man, with very large head and small feet, and when walking looked as if he were going to topple over,
William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, 1790-1858. Brighton home at 1 Lewes Crescent/14 Chichester Terrace from 1829 until his death.
Thunder’s Groyne. There were once three timber groynes along the stretch of beach between Banjo groyne and Albion groyne, near to the present Marina. Thunder’s groyne is likely to have been one of these. The beach was much lower than today and the shore line closer to the road, the groynes having since encouraged a massive build-up of pebbles.
A Marquis kind of heart and a General on his guard
A very different style of man was the Marquis of Bristol, - short, little and ‘old fashioned’. There was little noticeable about him except his kindness of heart, which many old women knew very well indeed. The writer has seen as many as nine or ten poor women waiting round the corner for him to come down Sussex Square, when they would surround him and the old Marquis did not leave then until each of them had received something.
Frederick William Hervey, 1st Marquis of Bristol 1769-1859. Brighton home at 19-21 Sussex Square from 1829 until his death.
Another old resident at the time was General Sir Frederick Ashworth (now dead some 40 years) who commanded a division of Wellington’s Army when it crossed the Pyrennes in 1813. He was a truly notable man, with a fine intellectual countenance, lighted up by sharp keen eyes, which in conversation roamed all around as though expecting a sudden attack from some hidden enemy.
Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Ashworth. Brighton home at 14 Chichester Terrace 1845-1949. He died in 1858.
Recollections of Kemp Town’s early days by published on 23rd January1892 by William Saunders in the Brighton Herald
Coningham’s moral courage
Who does not remember that old Kemp Towner, William Coningham, that staunch Liberal Member for Brighton – a sterling man, true to his professions and principles – a rare thing then, and, perhaps still more rare now. What moral courage he must have had to stand alone against the House of Commons on the granting of the Princess Royal’s dowry. We may not always have agreed with some of Coningham’s political opinions, but his truth and courage no-one can dispute, and withal we remember his arguments used to be very difficult to contravert. We have only to look at the present professions of many prominent politicians to see that William Coningham was years in advance of his time.
William Coningham, 1815-1884 resident at 26 Sussex Square (1848-1871) and 6 Lewes Crescent (1880-death) Liberal politician and art collector. The dowry referred to was for Princess Victoria, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, upon her marriage in 1858 to Prince Frederick of Prussia, later Emperor of Germany.
An astronomer in Lewes Crescent
The famous Earl Rosse, the astronomer lived a short time in Lewes Crescent, about forty years ago. The writer witnessed his signature to an agreement. He had not long before finished his colossal telescope in Ireland and found the moon dead!
William Parsons, 3rd Earl Rosse, 1800-1867. The Anglo-Irish astronomer, whose huge telescope in Ireland remained the world’s largest until the 20th century.
Recollections of Kemp Town’s early days by published on 23rd January1892 by William Saunders in the Brighton Herald
Kemp Town clergy
The late Rev. H. N. Goulty of Union Chapel and Extra Mural Cemetery fame, after his migration from Western Road (at the corner of Regent Hill) lived in Kemp Town for many years. He had a most singular antipathy to Burn’s little ‘bonnie gem’. The sight of the daisy in the greensward of the Kemp Town Enclosures had the same effect on him that the sight of a Frenchman did upon Nelson. It gave him nervous twitchings. Many passages of arms did the rev. gentleman have with the burly old gardener upon the subject and finally the daisies had to quit.
He surely means Rev. John Horatio Goulty, Pastor of the Union Chapel and cousin of Horatio Nelson, who lived at 2 Sussex Square from 1859 until his death in 1867, his daughters running a ladies’ school from the house thereafter and until 1889. His son, Horatio Nelson Goulty was the architect of the Norfolk Hotel, the Hannington’s store and the Chapels at the Extra Mural Cemetery, Lewes Ro
Many will remember the Rev. J. S. M. Anderson, the eloquent speaker at St. George’s and for some time chaplain to Queen Adelaide, whose great kind heart and open hand raised him. This cannot be said of another eminent clergyman of that time in Kemp Town, who was so afraid that one hand would know what the other did, that he never did anything, but who, nevertheless, preached such a touching sermon on charity on one occasion that his organist, who was suffering severe domestic affliction at the time, was tempted in a moment of weakness, and as he said, with considerable doubts, to ask the reverend gentleman, if he would pay him a quarter’s salary in advance. His doubts were at once set at rest, and his salary three months afterwards, but not in advance.
Rev J. S. M. Anderson resident at 12 Arundel Terrace 1826-1850. Secretary of the gardens committee during his time here.
This reminds us, too, of another well-known divine who once preached most eloquently on restraining one’s passions, but who was all the same a man of most violent temper. His sermon caused one of those who heard it to remark, “Ah, he is an angel in the pulpit, but a devil out of it”.
Harrison Ainsworth the celebrated author and Ford the lawyer
The genial and talented Harrison Ainsworth resided here many years before his lamented death. The writer used to frequently meet him walking over the Downs, when he was writing ‘Ovingdean Grange’. Looking at his happy cheerful countenance, one would never believe that he was capable of concocting for the purposes of his stories the most diabolical plots and conspiracies that the human mind could conceive of.
William Harrison Ainsworth, 1805-1882. Author of 40 historical novels, whose fame was comparable to that of Dickens. Street directories show him at 5 Arundel Terrace, 1854-1869.
Many more Kemp Town celebrities (rather more modern) could be named such as old lawyer Ford, the Padwick of his time, and owner of ‘Poison’ that won the Oaks in 1843; and whose saint-like way of living quite alienated his aristocratic friends.
George Samuel Ford, 1780-1868, a solicitor who with his son, turned to coal mining and coke making at Bryndu Colliery, South Wales. Place of residence on the Estate unknown. The reference to Padwick is possibly to Henry Padwick of Horsham, also a solicitor, ‘a man of the turf who was on social terms with the aristocracy’.
Philanthropy of the Peels
There were too those memorable residents, Mr. Lawrence Peel and Lady Jane Peel. Mr. Peel, though not a politician like his brother the learned statesman, (the late Sir Robert Peel) took great interest in all that concerned the damaged text and his poorer brethren; and not a damaged text was stinted for their amelioration damaged text heart and soul into it. Lady Jane damaged text handed philanthropy was pro- damaged text tender solicitude for young people damaged text and “Lady Jane Peel’s” school damaged text behind Sussex Square was for years damaged text.
Lawrence Peel, 1799-1884, younger brother of the Prime Minister, Robert Peel. The brothers were from a family made wealthy by importing cotton and exporting it to India as printed calico. Lady Jane, his wife was the daughter of the Duke of Richmond. Both were involved in charitable works. They lived at 32 Sussex Square from 1848. Lady Jane ran a school for poor girls in a former stable block behind the house.
Lawrence Peel’s garden rear of 32 Sussex Square continued east under Bristol Place, almost to Arundel Road.
Cubitt, a great little man
A damaged text the Emperor of the building trade as he was called – Mr. Thomas Cubitt w- damaged text much influence upon the fortunes of damaged text. He was unquestionably the damaged text successful speculating builder of this century. The writer was first brought into contact with Mr. Cubitt between 40 and 50 years ago. He was then just upon 60 years of age, short in stature, and with white hair, his features looked as if they had been cut out of granite - by no means a cheerful face. In fact he looked as though he had taken the battle of life to heart very seriously indeed.
Many times the writer was in after years brought onto contact with him, but never saw him laugh or even smile. The last occasion on which the writer saw Mr. Cubitt was in the summer of 1855. He then appeared in excellent health, yet only a few weeks later the received notice to prepare for the end, an insidious disease in the shape of a cancer having crept into his throat. He died that following December, literally starved to death. Such was the end of him whom Lady Morgan calls in her memoirs “That great little man”.
Lady Morgan’s Memoirs Vol II 1862 describing her dealings with Cubitt over his Albert Gate development,
And so ends the writer’s rambling recollections of a few of the noted people of earlier Kemp Town. How silently they seem to have stolen away. The places that knew them shall know them no more for ever.
These recollections provoked a response from a reader, and a week later, on 23rd January 1892, the Brighton Herald published a letter:
Brighton Herald 23rd January 1892
MORE MEMORIES OF KEMP TOWN
The writer of this letter was William Saunders, 1812-1907. He was 80 at the time of the letter.
To the Editor of the Brighton Herald
Sir, I was much interested in reading the ‘Memories of Kemp Town’. Perhaps it gives more pleasure to me than to most of your readers, inasmuch as I remember the time when there were no buildings in the neighbourhood except a little farmhouse near what was the late Mr. Peel’s garden as it now stands. One person your correspondent forgot to mention, whose exertions in these first buildings had almost a tragic finish of disappointment. When Sussex Square was first begun, Mr. James Ingeldew speculated in the movement. With honourable intentions he, nevertheless, went on too fast. So fortunate was he at his first venture that he unwisely set up a carriage and pair, and, being a man of education, he was a person of consequence. But evil days were at hand, and bankruptcy swiftly followed, accompanied by sickness, and at the last he died in the Workhouse. He, I think deserved a better fate for what he tried to do. Mr. Ingledew with others instituted a Fair (about the top of Chesham Street) for the recreation and pleasure of the workmen and their families. It was called Black Rock Fair.
James Ingeldew, builder, took building plots from T. R. Kemp on which to build houses, including 10 in Chichester Terrace and 8 in Sussex Square, but in 1825 running into financial difficulty, handed over many of these building leases to his creditors.
A delightful walk
The history of the land on which stands Kemp Town is in my memory as far back as 75 years.When walking there with a bandsman of the Gloucester Militia, he playing on his bugle (about where the Blind Asylum now is), with beautiful green Downs sweeping down to the cliff, I noticed that a delightful echo reproduced half the tune. I have often since heard the same echo, and many persons have thought in late years that is was produced by the backs of the houses in Percival Terrace. What a delightful walk I thought it was even in my little childish days – the long, long walk past the East Mill, where I used to go to see “Mr. Cook, the miller”. That was before the hospital and other institutions were built. And when the old ocean was stealthily eating away our chalk cliffs, and the sea wall had not swallowed the thousands the thousands of tons of earth carted from the land, now the site of St. Mary’s Hall.
The Blind School stood from 1861 until 1952 on Eastern Road at the southern end of Bristol Gate.
The East Mill had once stood somewhere on the present site of Lewes Crescent last mentioned there in sale particulars of 1795 but thought to have been moved to a new position near Sudelely Place/Millfields cottages before the writer was born.
The Brighton Sea Wall, the concrete facing of the cliff between The Steyne and the Kemp Town Estate, built between 1833-1835 with an esplanade running along the top. The earth was possibly used to back-fill between the natural cliff face and the new concrete facing wall and to create the promenade above.
Peel’s munificent heart
Your contributor mentioned names of persons that seemed to me but of yesterday. He refers to the late Mr. Lawrence Peel, and to “Lady Jane’s School” which was the pride and the glory and the joy of his munificent heart.
The old Marquis
Well, too, I remember the old Marquis of Bristol. I have seen old women waiting for him to come to the Eastern Road corner of the square, and then change their shawls, bonnets etc, run down the back way to Lewes Crescent, and get another dole there. It was amusing to see the old man joggling along on his pony, with his big black dog running after him. If he thought the dog tired, he would put out his stirrup foot and the dog would leap from the foot to the horse’s back, and the old man would clutch him under his arm, and so, with his thin cheeks puffing, ride home with the great carcase.
Bitter rows at the rate setting meetings
Mention is made in the same number of the Herald of the Old Vicar and of church rate meetings. Does anyone remember “Parochial” Feist? He was an unlettered man but a there nevertheless, in the Vicar’s side. At one of the meetings I attended the Vicar had put his gouty feet on the table, in front of his Chairman’s seat. Feist said he wanted to speak to the motion “if the Chairman would put down his nasty, stinking feet”. The Chairman felt himself beaten, amidst the Laughing uproar he put down the feet so unpleasantly referred to.
On such occasions was there ever such a one to throw oil on the water as the late lamented Somers Clarke? I think I see him now with his handsome pacific countenance. Stilling the boiling waves of democracy, and infusing a subdued clemency into irate partisans.
Rev. Henry Wagner, 1792-1870, Vicar of Brighton from 1824 until his death. Church rates were levied on all properties to pay for the upkeep of Anglican churches, causing much resentment amongst the large Non-Conformist community in Brighton and stormy rate-setting meetings at which they protested.
Somers Clarke, 1802-1892, solicitor, Clerk of the Brighton Vestry from 1830 until his death in 1892.
The Chain Pier damaged in a storm
I saw the first pile of the old Pier driven! Again, as to the breaking of the Chain Pier, I was in a drawing room on the Marine-parade at the time trying to q1uiet two old ladies in the great storm. “Did I think the Pier in danger?”. “No, not at all” I said, “It is gone then” was the next exclamation: and so it was!
The Chain Pier built 1823. Damaged in storms 1824 and 1833, when the third bridge ‘flew apart’. In 1836 the same bridge was destroyed and finally the whole pier destroyed by a storm in 1896.
Rev. Anderson no longer preaching to bonnets
The Rev. James Anderson, when he left St. George’s and had the appointment at Lincoln’s Inn, was met in Brighton by the Rev. Charles Townsend, Vicar of Kingston-by-Sea, a singular literary character. “Well, James, how do you get on?” he asked. Now James had an opinion he could “get on” as a preacher anywhere, and hinted to that effect. “Yes, but “said the old gentleman, “You have been here preaching to bonnets; now you have to preach to heads!”
Tunbridge Wells 18th January 1892
Our “old resident”, thought to be William Baines of 40 Sussex Square, then submitted a further set of recollections to the Herald:
BRIGHTON HERALD 26TH March 1892
More memories of Earlier Kemp Town, by an old resident
Before Palmeira Square and Adelaide Crescent were thought of, Kemp Town was attracting considerable attention. Its healthy situation, its magnificent crescent – the widest in England – its beautiful enclosed lawns and gardens, were a constant source of admiration, and it was spoken of as the most select and beautiful marine locality in the South of England. It would have undoubtedly become the most favoured, had not the influx of ladies’ schools driven the most ‘select’ to other parts.
Kemp Town proper consists of Chichester Terrace, Lewes Crescent, Sussex Square and Arundel Terrace, and it is only the owners and occupiers of these houses that have the right to entrance to the enclosures and esplanade, and upon whom the expense falls of keeping them up. It is managed by a committee called the Kemp Town Committee, who meet annually for the purpose of assessing the amount of expenditure for the current year. The working staff consists of a Secretary, two gardeners and a private constable.
Mr. Haselwood remembers Horatio Nelson
In the early days of Kemp Town, a notable resident was old Mr.Haselwood. He resided near the Duke of Devonshire. It was with Mr. Haselwood that Lord and Lady Nelson dined after Nelson’s return from Copenhagen in 1801, on which occasion Nelson cautioned his wife, telling her to be careful what she said. Immediately after this event, Nelson left her and never lived with her again.
William Haselwood, listed in street directories at 12 Chichester Terrace 1845-1848, and his widow at 13 Chichester Terrace 1861-1882.
Battle of Copenhagen, 2nd April 1801, British fleet used to force Denmark into an Alliance against the French.
A quartet of genial old gentlemen
The house next to the Duke of Devonshire’s was occupied by Mr Thomas West, the well-known banker of The Union Bank, North Street. The Union Bank at that time was an old-fashioned round fronted building with a flight of steps leading up to it. The proprietors were Messrs Hall, West and Borrer, and with their white-haired managing clerk, old Mr. Pocock, formed a quartet of the most genial looking old gentlemen that the eye could look upon. One and all of them had something lively to say to their customers. In their general style and deportment they used to put the writer in mind of the Brothers Cheeryble.
Thomas West, listed in street directories at 3 Lewes Crescent, 1848-1859.
Brothers Cheeryble, the kind-hearted employers of Nicholas Nickleby in Charles Dickens’s novel
Misfortunes of Estate residents
Dr. Laing, then well advanced in years, is probably remembered by only a few, but 40 or 50 years ago his school at 11 Sussex Square for gentlemen was known throughout the country. “How are the mighty fallen” this school is now used for the purposes of a dairy.
Henry Laing’s school for gentlemen listed in street directories at 11 Sussex Square 1846-1854.
The present Marmalade Café where the dairy’s wall tiles have been revealed.
In 1847, 10 Lewes Crescent was fitted up, altered and enlarged for Mr. Sherriff at a cost of £8,000. The misfortunes that afterwards befell him were deserving of sympathy. They were much increased by a deplorable accident which he met with at the northern entrance to the Pavilion. He had taken shelter there near one of the gates during a storm, when the gate fell crushing him very much and breaking one or both of his legs.
Frances Sherriff, listed in street directories at 10 Lewes Crescent 1848-1852, had been in the calico printing business with Richard Cobden, the Anti-Corn Law campaigner and philanthropist. Sherriff was himself a philanthropist. An account of this incident is provided under the house history for 10 Lewes Crescent
Bare knuckle boxing
The house was afterwards occupied by Captain Taylor. He had staying with him on one occasion Mr. Featherstonehaugh, the old sporting squire, who told the writer that it was his (the writer’s) “duty” to see the approaching fight between Sayers and Heenan, and. said the grand old sportsman, with all the fire of his younger days, “I saw Cribb and Molyneux fight, and saw Molyneux knocked down and his jaw broken and get up again and go at it as if nothing had occurred”. He added “But this Sayers is a very remarkable fellow”.
J A Taylor, listed in street directories at 10 Lewes Crescent, 1862-1882.
The world’s first ‘world title’ boxing match between American John Heenan and Tom Sayers, ‘The Brighton Titch’ 17th April 1860. The result, a draw when police broke up the fight. This fight is in the era before Queensbury Rules of 1867 and illegal.
Tom Cribb and Tom Molineaux, a black man, formerly a slave, from America. They fought a bare knuckle fight in December 1810. Winner declared when opponent is either beaten unconscious or quits. Cribb won after Molineaux collapsed unconscious.
John Elger, Cubitt’s pupil
The Duke of Devonshire’s house at No.1 Lewes Crescent was bought by Mr. John Elger, who was proud to have been the first pupil that Mr. Thomas Cubbitt had. He made a very large fortune as a speculating builder and was the builder of Albert Gate, London. He once said to the writer, “It is 50 years ago today that I went to Thomas Cubbitt as his first pupil”. Mr. Kelk, the builder of the 1862 Exhibition, used to visit him there. Mr.Kelk was also a pupil of Mr. Cubbitt.
John Elger, listed in street directories at 1 Lewes Crescent 1859-1888.
In fact Princes Gate, two terraces fronting Hyde Park now used mainly by foreign embassies. Albert Gate, close by, was constructed by Elger’s former employer, Thomas Cubbitt. www.british-history.ac.uk
Sir John Kelk, was trained as an architect, as was John Elger. He became a speculative builder, at one time in partnership with Elger.
The Apocalypse foretold at 11 Lewes Crescent
The Late Rev E.B. Elliott, first incumbent of St. Mark’s Church resided at 11 Lewes Crescentfor many years. It was here that he wrote his famous work Hora Apocalypta.
Rev E.B. Elliott listed in street directors at 11 Lewes Crescent, 1854 until his death in 1875, his family remaining at the address until 1898. Elliott’s Hora Apocalypta, published 1852, was described by the then Bishop of Winchester as ‘the most important prophetical work of this century’
Sussex County hospital benefactors
A well-known resident at that time, was old Peter Cazalet, the Russian consul. He used to relate with great glee how he outwitted his cook and butcher. Suspecting how the joints consumed by no means corresponded with the weight charged for, and which his cook accounted for by the waste in cooking, he one morning suddenly appeared in the kitchen just as the butcher had arrived with the meat with the weight ticket skewered on it. He at once put the meat in the scales and found it, as he had expected, short in weight upon which the butcher in his confusion said, “Well, all I know is it weighed the proper weight when I left the shop anyhow”.
Peter Cazalet, listed in street directories at 18 Lewes Crescent from 1834 until his death in 1859. He was born 1785 at St. Petersburg to a British mercantile family. His ‘Russian consul’ title, meant that he represented British commercial interests in Russia. A man wealthy from his family’s rope-making and brewing businesses in Imperial Russia, he died at sea and is buried at St. Petersburg.
The impression that Cazalet was a skinflint has to be set against the record of his generous donations to the Sussex County Hospital.
The late Mr. Thomas Warner,was long a resident in Sussex Square (over 40 years). He was an active participator in the affairs of the Sussex County Hospital, and was one of those who offered themselves for membership of the Town Council at the first election on Brighton being made a Corporate town.
Thomas Warner, listed in street directories at 47 Sussex Square 1850 until his death in 1889. His family remained there until 1893.
Brighton incorporated May 1854.
His next door neighbour for over 30 years was the late Thomas Almond Garth, a retired lawyer, who in his days of practice had won a law case. He used to be truly delighted to have an opportunity of talking about it. I believe he would have given any man a sovereign to listen to his account of this case to the bitter end – but that man was not to be found.
Thomas Arnold Garth, 1797-1882, a retired bankruptcy solicitor, listed in street directories at 46 Susses Square 1856-1885. Elected to the gardens committee in 1861, serving until his death in 1882, including as committee chair from 1877-1880.
Killed in a train crash
A lamentable occurrence took place- I think it now about 30 years ago – connected with 41 Sussex Square. The house had been finished and fitted up for Mr. Francis Pym who was with his family living at Eaton Place. Mr. & Mrs. Pym had just finished furnishing their new house, and were to remove into it on the next day, when as accident happened to the Great Northern express, in which poor Mr. Pym was killed. His widow and family occupied the house for a few years.
Francis Pym 1818-1860, his widow listed in street directories at 41 Sussex Square. The accident referred to is likely to have been the crash involving the London-bound ‘Scotch mail train’ at Atherstone, Warwickshire, in which 10 people were killed on 16th November 1860.
Original notions of Nathaniel Wilkes
In the early days of Kemp Town old Mr. Wilkes was well known. Although only an amateur builder, he had some original notions. He once bought two Corinthian columns at a sale, and on finding them too tall for any part of the house he was finishing, he had one of the landings raised to fir the columns. In the same house the tradesmen’s entrance – the basement passage – was so narrow that a man with a basket had to work his way towards the kitchen sideways.
Cubitt’s bell goes to Pimlico
A great many still living will remember Cubbitt’s bell. It ceased to ring in 1860, being then transferred to the factory at Thames Bank, Pimlico, London. Only one man could ring this bell properly, namely, the foreman of the labourers, old James Dyer, he seemed almost to make it speak. No public clock was wanted in Kemp Town in those days. Servants attended to their duties by ‘Cubbitt’s bell’ and many persons timed their watches by it. I have heard its sound on a fine summer’s morning, when the wind was easterly, as far down as Grand Parade.
It was remarkable what affection some of these poor labouring men had for their work. An old labourer of Mr. Cubbitt’s firm, who had been employed the greater part of his time in keeping the Kemp Town esplanade walks in order, sent when he was on his death bed for his old foreman. Dyer, asking him if he should send for a parson for him, replied, “No, I don’t want no parson, Jimmy, but what I worries about, Jimmy, is the Esplanade. What will become of it when I am gone?” This poor man’s wages were 15 shillings a week. The wages paid in those days by Cubbitt’s firm were very different from what the same class of men earns now. Joiners were paid 26s a week, carpenters, painters, bricklayers, plasterers and others 24s and labourers 15s a week. This was before the outbreak of the Crimean War.