Walk 3/5

Virtual walk Page 3/5

E: BRIGHTON ROCK

Lower Rock Gardens takes its name from Rock House, which stood on the site of Chain Pier House. It was an isolated, cliff-top home built in 1788 above an odd-shaped outcrop on the beach (long since covered by shingle).

The house was rebuilt in the 1980s but some of its arched windows and castle-like wall can still be seen at the bottom of the road, on the left. The Victorian illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898), famous for his grotesque and erotic Art Nouveau images, spent much of his childhood with his aunt at no. 21.

Back on Marine Parade we continue left past more Busby and Wilds architecture at nos. 50, 51, 53-55, to the red-brick Lanes Hotel.

 

F: TAKE A BOW

The Lanes Hotel was originally three bow-fronted houses. The corner one was rebuilt in 1880 by Victorian architect Col R W Edis, who later built London's Marylebone Station. The date 1844 on the side is completely bogus. 

The house later became The Crest Hotel and guests included composer and stage star Ivor Novello who worked on his 1939 musical The Dancing Years there. Comic actor Tommy Trinder lived next door at no. 71.

Back on Marine Parade, we continue past no. 76  and no. 79, the home of playwright Sir Terence Rattigan (1911-1977), among whose best known plays are The Winslow Boy, The Browning Version and The Deep Blue Sea.

 

G: HALF NELSON

 Royal Crescent was Brighton's first major development and was built between 1798 and 1807 by West Indian merchant J B Otto. The crescent's name was originally painted above the splendid black mathematical tiles by a Mr. Leggatt who, when he got to the 'S', leaned back to admire his work and fell to his death on the railings below.

Otto tried to win Royal favour by putting up a 7ft plaster statue of the Prince of Wales on the front lawn. It did not weather well and its fingers and nose soon dropped off, then its right arm - making it look more like Lord Nelson. The furious Prince banned anyone from ever again mentioning Otto's name in his presence.

Legendary actor Laurence Olivier, later Baron Olivier, stayed at the home of theatre chums at no. 7 while they were away. He liked it so much he bought no. 4 Royal Crescent before his hosts had even returned. He then bought no. 5 to accommodate his growing family.

If you walk down Royal Crescent Mews, on the right, you can see where horses and stable hands were housed.

 

H: PRIME SITE

 The building on the corner of Burlington Street, Royal Crescent Mansions, incorporates the former home of Tory statesman George Canning (1770-1827), who lived here while Prime Minister in 1827. He is said to have had a room soundproofed with baize - the felt used on billiard tables - where he could practise his speeches without being overheard.

For many years the building was a hotel, attracting stars such as Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977), who would come out onto the balcony of his favourite seafront room to wave to fans.

No. 25 Burlington Street was the home of Brighton's 'cheeky chappie', comedian Max Miller (1894-1963), when at the height of his fame.