An introduction to the history of the area

By Steve Myall

By 1706 The Earl & Countess of Dorset ‘s youngest son, Col Sackville Tufton, had inherited the moiety of Brighton & Lewes.  In 1737 Col Tufton’s son, Lionel Cranfield Sackville (The 7th Earl of Dorset) sold the title and land, which included our area of Church Hill, to Thomas Friend of Brighton.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'An introduction to the history of the area' page

The above engraving, published as part of Yeakell & Gardner’s 1779 map of Brighton, gives a good impression of the isolation of Church Hill, and this view remained unchanged throughout much of the 18th century.

Church Hill West Side also remained as undeveloped downland well into the 19th century, as shown in John Constable’s oil sketch of the area.  During this first quarter of the C19th, apart from St. Nicholas’ Church on the east side of the hill, there were only three buildings on the west side – one residence, Kemp’s Temple, and two businesses, Vine’s Mill and the Church Hill Soap and Candle factory.  

The soap and candle factory gave way to the Church Hill School , opened by the Church Commissioners for children from the Workhouse. This school building later became the first Children’s Hospital. The Workhouse was built on the east side of Church Hill just north of St. Nicholas’ Church in 1820/21, and the school for its children was established by the Rev. Thomas Airey in 1822/23 on the west side of Dyke Road.

The earliest engraving showing any more development on Church Hill West Side is the advert for Mrs. Watts’ laundry service of 1839, but in 1825 Amon Henry Wilds had already published his plans for Hampton Terrace, on the north side of our Western Road, plans which in the end were unfulfilled.                                                                                                                                                               In 1827 the local artists C. & R. Sickelmore published a view of the Temple showing the northern slope of Church Hill and the open plain on which Montpelier Crescent was built in 1843-47.

Five churches were built in our area during the Victorian period, of which only two remain – St. Michaels and All Angels’ and St. Mary Magdalen, apart from the much earlier St. Nicholas’ Church on the east side of the hill.

The majority of the residential development, which includes a number of unique features, was built between 1840 and 1855 , and in this fifteen years Brighton gained its first Victorian residential development, planned, financed and built by local businessmen, craftsmen and merchants. This final link will take you to a number of individual streets in the area, and all this information is from Steve Myall’s book ‘The Victorian Development of the Clifton, Montpelier and Powis Estates of Brighton’.


This page was added on 09/03/2011.

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