Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Patcham Place

Patcham Place pictured in the snow. Built in the 16th.C the facade was later modified with the black mathematical tiles that can be seen today. It is said to be haunted by one of its owners Anthony Stapley who was one of the signatories to Charles I's death warrant. On the right of the photo is Patcham Fountain erected in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
Patcham Place is owned by the City Council and up until a year or two ago it had been used as a Youth Hostel since 1939. This shows in the condition of the interior of which very few original features remain. Situated as it is on the A23 on the outskirts of a famous holiday resort it would make an ideal headquarters for the new South Downs Park Authority, and the listed stables could be restored to provide extra space for a Visitor Centre and/or South Downs Museum.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Gay Pride

When the sun shines there is no better place to be than on the seafront watching the Gay Pride Parade. This stunning vision paused and posed for a photograph in August 2004.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


At the other end of the scale to the cretinous "tagging", which regularly defaces City walls, we have graffiti of this high standard. While not decrying the artistry & effort involved in creating something like this, presumably with the owner's permission,  I still don't like it. It is out of place. Old walls are interesting in their own right. There is something strangely satisfying about observing the effects of time and weathering on apparently inert brick, cement and stone. Old walls have character and lend atmosphere to the streetscape. They are a relief from, and contrast to, brash modernity which would be more the natural home for art like this.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

"Brighton - The Musical"

Terry Garoghan, Brighton's unofficial Mayor is a local gem. At the Dome last night he provided two hours of non-stop stand-up and tuneful mirth with a strictly local flavour covering localities as diverse as Blatchington Road and Bevendean. I'm sure I even heard Coldean get a mention. How does he do it! A great once a year treat, now in its 13th year but you can catch him again at the Komedia in May. I think I shall.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Bedford Towers

The building on the left of this photo replaced the late-Georgian Bedford Hotel after it burnt down in 1964. Closer viewing does not reveal any compensating factors for its unfortunate intrusion into the vista from the top of Victoria Street. (See previous entry). Shortly after it was built some of the tiling of the facing panels fell off and had to be replaced. Apparently they could not find matching ones. Maybe they had used an "end-of-line" bargain lot. This accounts for rather peculiar diseased appearance of the frontage. So, no net gain in visual amenity there then.

In cases like this it would be good if the architect could be asked to revisit his creation and invited to interpret the building, and explain what message the critical observer should try to take from it. Otherwise we are entitled to believe that he cared nothing for the elegant, historic building it replaced, or that he was concerned at all for the intrusion of his design on to a world-famous seafront, or that he took any account of the scale & style of nearby listed Regency Square.

Victoria Street . . .

. . . built in the late 1830's, has several listed properties on both sides; and St. Mary Magdalene, built two decades later, is also listed. I wonder if, at the time, the Victoria Street inhabitants objected to the loss of view? To modern eyes it looks near perfect, only marred by the bulk of the Bedford Hotel replacement looming up on the right.

St. Mary Magdalene has one of those "off the peg" spires, like St. John's in Palmeira Square, which are now suffering badly from weathering.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Violinist on a Rope

Ear-defying feat of balance and strength test on City lamppost. Brighton's answer to "Man on Wire".

Sunday, 15 March 2009

When a Troll comes Calling . .

. . . is the title of a recent article in "The Freethinker", as always, a witty, scathing, sometimes scurrilous read. The magazine was first produced in 1881 for which the publisher, G W Foote, was sentenced to 12 months hard labour. It continues to be published by Brighton's Barry Duke.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Brighton Station Site

The old goods line became a wilderness over the 40 years it stood unused. This building stood at the end of Boston Street and was provided with a bridge to the old Locomotive Works. It looks domestic in scale and perhaps was originally used by an employee of the Locomotive Works.

This site now lies under the "One Brighton" development at the junction of Stroudley Road and Fleet Street.  Stroudley Road runs to the left of this photo, Fleet Street runs behind the building to the right.  
Photo taken in March 2003.

Monday, 9 March 2009

The Seven Stars

This extravagant late-Victorian frontage (Grade II listed) in Ship Street was once complemented by an equally sumptuous interior  -  all polished wood, etched glass and mirrors. This was  all removed in the 1980's when it became the Helsinki Bar, later O'Neill's as shown. Ironically it has now been returned to a vaguely Victorian style but with very little hint of the former opulence.  The name "Seven Stars", first recorded in 1785, has now been readopted. 

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Inside the "Bottle". . .

This is a view through the georgian glass of one of the windows of the"bottle" looking roughly north-east. The "bottle" was the nickname given to the central, onion-shaped dome of the Royal Pavilion. It certainly is very similar in shape to those large glass bottles filled with coloured liquid that one still sees in chemists' windows. These may have been a more familiar sight in the early 19th. century.
The inside of the bottle is divided up into small rooms some even with a small fireplace (don't ask me where the smoke went) that were once used by visitor's servants. Access is via a spiral staircase on the south-west side and on the north-west side there was  a dumb-waiter.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Brighton & Hove Humanists

See: http://quedula.blogspot.com/2009/03/university-students.html, for a comment on last night's meeting.

Nice staircase . . . .

 . . . shame about the vandals.
This is the central art deco staircase in the Ocean Hotel, Saltdean. It spirals from top to bottom in a graceful swoop and one of its most remarkable features was the continuous handrail in solid brass.   This photo was taken in 2005 but  about 18 months later, shortly before the present developers took the premises over, some "Jack the lads" turned up with a lorry and ripped the handrail out. (Still lets give them the benefit of the doubt - perhaps they wanted to donate the scrap money to "Children in Need"!) Nearby residents saw it happening but assumed they "probably" had permission. The developers are committed to restoring period features but what's the betting the new handrail won't be in solid brass.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Brighton Little Theatre

For their  spring programme the BLT are doing "A Few Good Men", "The Haunting of Hill House" and "Hay Fever". All good, entertaining stuff by a brilliant amateur company.

Brighton Festival 2

For me the high spot of the Festival is usually the "Promenade" event and this year seems likely to be no exception. The theatre company Hydrocracker are performing Joe Orton's "The Erpingham Camp" on the Palace Pier and the ticket price includes a fish & chip supper. 
Several other items appeal including Handel's "Arianna in Creta", and an al fresco "Comedy of Errors" in St. Anns Well gardens; but one musn't book too much, there is  all the free stuff to get round and The Fringe programme is yet to arrive.
Incidentally the free stuff includes several art installations by the Guest  Artistic Director Anish Kapoor who also designed the programme cover I complained about in my earlier post. These installations are at various sites around the City including the Chattri and are definitely on my 'must see' list.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Brighton & Hove Humanist Society

The B&HHS is 50 years old this year. It meets on the first Wednesday of every month at The Lord Nelson in Trafalgar St.  Tomorrow's talk is entitled the "Future of Belief".  
I've never managed to get to it before either due to forgetfulness, indolence or prior engagement but this time a friend is picking me up so I've absolutely no excuse.  I'm looking forward to it.

The Secret Door

This intriguing door is on Madeira Drive at the bottom of Duke's Mound. I have never seen it open. Does anyone know where it leads? Duke's Mound was named after the Duke of Devonshire who occupied Fife House, 1 Lewes Crescent. Perhaps he had a tunnel built to provide easy access to the seafront.