Wykeham Terrace

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Wykeham Terrace' page

Michael Fisher

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Wykeham Terrace' page

Michael Fisher

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Wykeham Terrace' page

Michael Fisher

Built c1828 and an example of early Regency Gothic architecture in Brighton

By Michael Fisher

Built c1828 and attributed to A H Wilds, Wykeham Terrace is one of the few examples of early Regency Gothic architecture in Brighton.  The early occupants were mainly people working in the professions and a few retired clergy.  In the 1850s, Father Wagner of St Paul’s Church, West Street, and vicar of Brighton, founded an Anglican Sisterhood: The Community of the Blessed Virgin Mary.   The nuns (Anglo-Catholic) were to rehabilitate young women who had fallen into prostitution and, as a result, produced illegitimate children.  It was a growing problem in Brighton at the time.  Most of Wykeham Terrace (1-5) and (8-11) was taken over by the Order and together with other local buildings in the Queen’s Square area, where the Ice Rink now stands, St Mary’s Home for Female Penitents was established.  The nuns taught the “fallen” women skills to prepare them for domestic service alongside the provision of a moral education; they also provided all the children with a sound basic education together with skills for the girls such as embroidery for ecclesiastical vestments. The young boys sang in St Paul’s Choir whilst older boys were found apprenticeships in the town.  

Around 1911-14, the Order moved to Rottingdean.   The Territorial Army bought the buildings and used them to billet their officers.  The houses were divided into a variety of flats and bed-sits.  It is at this time that the shields were put on the front façade of the building between the quatrefoils.  When stripping the internal walls back to bare plaster it is easy to see blocked up internal doors, which indicate that the flats extended over two houses.  The original army colours of green, brown and cream (to say nothing of graffiti!) are still on the old plaster.   People often stop by the front gates and remember living in the houses as children.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, the Terrace fell into some disrepair and was under threat of demolition.  In 1969 squatters entered Nos 7-12, and lived there for several months before being evicted.  After this troublesome event, the Territorial Army put this section of the Terrace up for sale.  A developer bought the seven houses in 1970 and converted them back into single dwellings.  The Terrace was listed Grade 2 and various covenants were placed on the buildings: they are not allowed to be converted back into flats, and The Wykeham Terrace Residents’ Association Ltd, which owns the forecourt land, was incorporated.  The company allows each of the seven households to park one car, it maintains the forecourt, garden, trees and railings, and arranges redecoration of the front elevation every five years.  Nos 1-6 Wykeham Terrace are not under this scheme since these houses were not part of the early 1970s renovation.

Two notable people who have lived in the Terrace are Sir Roy Strong – former director of the V&A, author and garden historian (at No 8) and Dame Flora Robson - actress (at No 7).

This page was added on 16/10/2010.

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