The Clarence in North Street is still looking much like it did 230 years ago when it was known as the New Inn. It is the only remaining example of the inns which once lined North Street. The frontage is of mathematical tiles, now painted. In 1811 it was extended westward over the coach entrance. The magistrates court was established here in 1808 and returned in 1821-23. In 1831 it was renamed in honour of William IV. It was Grade II listed in 1971 and closed as a hotel in 1972. In 1979 it re-opened as the headquarters of a building society.
It was restored c1990, when a Georgian Revival shop front was inserted on the left which could be said to balance the coach entrance on the right. Unfortunately, this effect is vitiated by commercial festoons, and the elegant entrance, the architectural highlight of the building, is bisected and obscured by the siting of the bus-stop.
The coaching entrance provides a little used passageway to the Lanes and still retains some features of the coaching era. It is surely ripe for some improvements concurrently with the Hannington Lane development.
Postscript: A Listed Building Enforcement Notice was served.
"Expiry date 30/12/2015. Ground Floor Retail Unit, Clarence House, 30 - 31 North Street, Brighton, BN1 1EB
Brighton & Hove City Council
1. Completely remove the 2no awnings attached to the front elevation of the building at ground floor level.
2. Remove all exterior fixings, hooks and battening from the front elevation and make good to match the existing listed building."