Montpelier Villas

History

By Steve Myall

In their ‘Guide to the Buildings of Brighton’ (Robson and Macdonald 1987), Montpelier Villas is described as being the later work of A.H. Wilds, and since there is general agreement that A.H. Wilds was the architect of Montpelier Villas, it seems likely that he also designed most of the houses in Montpelier Terrace, apart from the taller flat-fronted terrace nearest to the junction with Montpelier Road. With numbers 6, 7 and 8 appearing to be the last houses built in the Terrace, the suggestion is that Wilds, with his appointed builder, erected 9 to 13 in the Terrace, then in 1845  started on all 20 of the Montpelier Villas together with numbers 6, 7 and 8 in the Terrace as a single undertaking.

In Montpelier Crescent Wilds gave the impression of homes larger than they really were, and  this technique was successfully used in the ten pairs of semi-detached houses of Montpelier Villas, where individual entrances are also tucked at either side of what looks like one large home.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Montpelier Villas' page

To enhance this ‘single villa illusion’ in Montpelier Villas, Wilds kept each pair of semi-detached homes on the same horizontal plain, rather than stepping each home down the slope of the road.

It is not clear when the jump was made from the not uncommon semi-detached estate workers’ cottages of the Georgian period to the new middle class semi-detached town villas, but it is possible that Montpelier Villas was at the forefront of this architectural innovation being used in an entire town centre street. To speculate on who the builder was who Wilds used on these developments in the mid 1840s, in that particular decade and in this area, the builder who had the financial resources, and the man-power needed, was William Hallett. The same speculation could apply regarding who Wilds employed for the construction of Montpelier Crescent, an enormous undertaking completed in the short space of four years, bearing in mind all the delays that winter weather might have caused.

 

This page was added on 16/04/2011.

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