The History of 14 Chichester Terrace

1 General Sir Frederick Ashworth

2 History of No 13 and No 14 Chichester Terrace

1 General Sir Frederick Ashworth

Recollections of Kemp Town’s early days by published on 16th January1892 by William Baines in the Brighton Herald

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.

He died in 1858.

To read more of these Recollections find the Article on the Estate page by Andrew Doig

2 History of No 13 and No 14 Chichester Terrace

The two houses, 13 and 14 Chichester Terrace, were ready for habitation and first let between 1828 and 1835, No. 14 being completed first followed by No. 13 seven years later; excavation and foundation work for the whole terrace had begun in May 1823. The facades were designed by Thomas Cubitt as part of a grand design by Thomas Read Kemp whose dream it was to create Kemp Town, a giant new estate outside Brighton. Today it includes Sussex Square, Lewes Crescent, Arundel Terrace and Chichester Terrace with the Kemp Town Enclosures (or Gardens) in the middle, although the original plans were much more extensive. The facades were designed by Thomas Cubitt as part of a grand design by Thomas Read Kemp whose dream it was to create Kemp Town, a giant new estate outside Brighton. The houses were built by many different builders to this specified exterior design. However the interiors were often built to the specifications of the new owner. That is one reason why the houses on the estate have different interiors and may vary in overall size.

Both our houses and No. 1 Lewes Crescent (adjacent to No. 14 Chichester Terrace) have a particularly colourful history. In fact, there is no question that between them they have the most distinguished history of any in Kemp Town, their list of visitors and tenants including five Kings, four Queens, and nobility and aristocracy of the Duke and Duchess of Fife (as daughter of Edward VII she later became the Princess Royal), took No. 14 and No. 1 Lewes Crescent, connecting them internally. (No. 1 Lewes Crescent is still known as Fife House.) In 1921, after the Duke’s death, the Princess Royal separated the two houses again, the section with day. In 1835 the first tenant of No. 14 was the sixth Duke of Devonshire.* In 1896 the rounded façade – originally part of No. 1 Lewes Crescent - now becoming part of No. 14 Chichester Terrace. That is how the houses are demarcated today.

The builder of No. 13 Chichester Terrace was a man called William Hallet who in 1855 became the second Mayor of Brighton. He built the house for Major-General Sir Frederick Ashworth who had commanded a division of Wellington’s army when it crossed the Pyrenees, and who became the first official Chairman of the Kemp Town Committee. Four Prime Ministers stayed in Kemp Town in the first half of the 19th century, including Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel and William Gladstone. The Earl of Aberdeen stayed at No. 12 or 13 Chichester Terrace for two months in the winter of 1836-37, and later as the guest of Major-General Ashworth in 1845-46 when he was Foreign Secretary.

In 1924 “Lady Cadogan and Another” purchased No. 14 in its reconverted state for £4,000 exactly. On the death of the subsequent owner, Admiral R.R. Neeld, it was sold by auction to William Fergusson at the Old Ship Hotel in Brighton on 31 October 1939. The sale price of £2,000 is not surprising given that the Second World War had just broken out. The house at that period was described as comprising: 11 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 5 reception rooms, dressing room, servants hall, housekeeper’s room, spacious domestic offices, all main services and a hand operated passenger lift serving the ground, first and second floors! William Fergusson also purchased No. 13 Chichester Terrace.

During the Second World War years, the houses were not occupied in the normal way but used by troops (Canadians in particular) as billets. When I first moved in to my flat, I found Canadian cigarette packets in the loft! Records suggest that conversion of both houses into the existing 13 self-contained flats was carried out between 1938 and 1963. On 22 March 1939 permission was given by the County Borough of Brighton to convert No. 13 into six flats; on 16 April 1940 interim permission to convert No. 14 into seven flats was granted.

In December 1963 William Fergusson sold both houses for £19,525 to Rowestone Investments Ltd, who drew up our own original leases. The first flat sold on a 999-year lease was Flat 8 on 28 February 1968 when it was bought by Olive Anne Twine for £6,500.

Rene Dee

* The question of whether the Duke of Devonshire in fact purchased No 14 is still disputed. There are no documentary records available at Chatsworth. Editor