20 January 2021

Medina Terrace, Hove

Judy Middleton 2002 (revised 2021)

copyright © J.Middleton
This elegant terrace was photographed in 2008

Background

Medina Terrace was first mentioned in Directories in 1873. It is difficult for us to envisage the Terrace’s immediate surroundings when it was first built. For example, the occupants had an uninterrupted view of the seafront towards Brighton in the east – no monstrous blocks of flats to mar the prospect. On the other hand, Hove esplanade was not integrated into a single stretch because there were interruptions where some residents still owned gardens running down to the seashore. But people living in Medina Terrace did enjoy their own private garden in Medina Lawn, which was fenced off from the general public. It is amusing to note that in 1873 when the occupant of 1 Medina Terrace applied for a key so that she could gain access to Medina Lawn, she was informed that she would be supplied with a key as soon as she had paid the special Lawn Rate.

On 18 July 1872 Hove Commissioners gave their approval to a plan submitted by Mr C. O. Blaber on behalf of Mr Gallard for a new sea wall road and approach to Medina Terrace.

According to Henry Porter, the building of Medina Terrace was completed by 1875.

In October 1888 it was recorded that instructions were to be given ‘to discontinue the services of the beadle in Medina Terrace from 1 November’.

Colonel Verner’s Concerns

Colonel William John Verner and his family lived at 2 Victoria Terrace in 1870s, while the 1881 census finds them resident at 35 Brunswick Place. It seems he was something of a thorn in the side of the Hove Commissioners because there were frequent communications from him. In February 1873 he complained about a building at the back of 4 Medina Terrace, and the Commissioners replied that orders had been given for its removal. Action was not quick enough for the colonel and soon he was firing off another letter enquiring why the structure had still not been taken down, and in addition another building had sprouted at the back of 5 Medina Terrace.

Colonel Verner also raised a query about the terrace wall and road because he had been told that when they were completed they would become the property of the Hove Commissioners. However, it seems that there was already an agreement concerning the west wall (the property of Mr Gallard) that when the sea wall and terrace were continued west to join Mr Tooth’s wall, this wall was to be taken down. Until then, the Commissioners had no control over the wall in question.

In May 1873 Colonel Verner sought planning permission for shops to be built over the areas of 2, 3, and 4 Victoria Terrace.

Medina Lawn

copyright © J.Middleton
When this postcard was produced, Medina Lawn was still reserved for the exclusive use of the residents of Medina Terrace

On 8 May 1852 George Gallard and William Kirkpatrick purchased this piece of land from Mrs Inman. It was intended that it should be for the enjoyment of people living in St Catherine’s Terrace, plus Albany, Hova, Medina, Osborne and Ventnor Villas. No dogs were allowed. By 1875 the area was simply known as The Lawn; there was a flag-staff at the south end, and a drinking fountain at the north east end. In April 1885 it was reported that an agreement had been reached with the Medina Ward Enclosure Committee that Pensioner Wise should look after Medina Lawn, and assist in keeping order on Medina esplanade for 15/- a week. In December 1875 George Gallard surrendered his interest in The Lawn to trustees. Also in 1875 a storm-water outfall was constructed opposite to Medina Lawn.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Medina Lawn was used for events connected to Hove Regatta
Brighton Herald 3 August 1901

Medina Lawn somehow managed to hold on to its decorative iron railings right up until the 1950s when Hove Council decided that removing them would make the space more accessible to the public. Other private gardens, such as those in Brunswick Square, lost their railings to a patriotic wartime salvage drive. Unhappily, it later transpired that the metal involved was unsuitable for use in weapons. Of course after the war, private gardens such as those in Brunswick Square, Adelaide Crescent, Brunswick Lawns, Grand Avenue, and Medina Lawn were taken over by Hove Council under the Hove Corporation Act 1947.

 copyright © J.Middleton
Medina Lawn was photographed on 2 November 2015.

Sir William Maurice Abbot-Anderson
(1861-1938)

 Dr Abbot-Anderson was physician to H.R.H. Princess Louise (the eldest daughter of Edward VII) and lived at 3 Medina House from 1912 to 1919. In 1925 he founded the Flora’s League and became a leading figure on the Wild Plant Conservation Board of the Protection of Rural England.

Dowager Lady Jemima Cory-Wright

She lived at Albemarle Mansion in the 1920s, her late husband was Sir Cory Francis Cory-Wright a businessman and local politician in Middlesex. He was the Chairman of William Cory & Son, coal merchants and ship owners.

Chris Eubank, senior

He was born in 1966. By 1991 he lived in a house worth £2 million in the Upper Drive, Hove. But in February 2001 he applied for planning permission to build two houses, one on either side of his house. At some stage he moved to a house in Medina Terrace. In November 1990 when Eubank won the WHO middleweight title from Nigel Benn, he proposed to his girlfriend Karron in front of the TV camera. They married in December 1990 at Brighton, and by 1997 there were four children, including Chis Eubank, junior, who went on to emulate his father’s boxing career.

It is claimed that Chris Eubank, senior, used to train at the King Alfred. He became a familiar figure with his training runs along the sea-front. He also drank eight pints of water daily, but did not touch alcohol or cigarettes. Eubank was 5-ft 10-in tall and had a reach of 73 inches. He had such a lucrative boxing career that in 1995 sports writer Ian Wooldridge said he could have earned as much as £10 million during his 47-fight career. In September of that year, Eubank announced he was retiring but had a change of heart the following year and returned to the ring. On 18 April 1998 he won admiration all round for his 23rd world title fight, this time against Carl Thompson that was described as an epic fight and lasted for twelve rounds. Although Eubank lost on points, he was commended for his courage, but he had to spend two nights in hospital so that doctors could monitor his fractured eye socket.

If the money rolled in, it was also quickly spent. Eubank had a Harley Davidson motorbike, an American giant of a Peterbilt truck, and a partially for new Range Rovers. There was his extensive wardrobe to consider, seeing as he was twice voted as Britain’s best-dressed man, and the odd bauble like the exclusive watch that cost over £40,000. He also earned money as a ‘character’ advertising Jaffa cakes, and in 1999 an extensive advertising campaign for Nescafe with the legend ‘Thimply the Betht’.

After the Eubanks’ marriage ended, Chris moved out and Karron stayed on at the Medina Terrace house for a while, before putting it up for sale in 2007. Chris Eubank married his second wife, Claire Geary, who was also his manager, in October 2014, and his son Chris Eubank, junior, was his best man.

David Gilmour

It is comparatively rare for the large Victorian houses in Hove not to be divided up into flats. But the 6-storey property owned by the Gilmours in Medina Terrace is all theirs, and is said to be worth at least £3 million. Goodness know how much has been expended on doing it up.

David Gilmour was born in 1946, and became famous as a guitarist with Pink Floyd. He also shared song-writing with his wife, author Polly Samson, whom he married in 1994. The couple have four children including Charlie Gilmour who in 2020 enjoyed a most spectacular success with his memoir Featherhood, which has been copiously reviewed and lauded. David Gilmour adopted Charlie because Charlie’s own father, the eccentric writer Heathcote Williams, showed no interest in him. Fortunately, David and Charlie’s mother Polly were exemplary parents. Charlie does not mention Hove in his book, but the rural surroundings of the family’s Sussex farm are described.

In 2016 when David Gilmour turned seventy years old, he decided it was time to retire, and there would be no more tours. In the same year the Sunday Times placed him 25th in their Rich List, and he was said to be worth £100million. He must have had an incredible collection of guitars because in 2019 he put no less than 126 instruments up for auction with the money raised going to a charity called Client Earth. In December 2020 there came news that Gilmour had given a rare guitar – an Epiphone Les Paul – to be auctioned in the United States for the benefit of veterans and their families. Moreover, the guitar bore the signatures of Gilmour, Nick Mason, the drummer, and Roger Waters, founding member.

copyright © J.Middleton
The restored Verner Cross

It must be said that the Gilmour’s extension plans to his Hove house have not always proved to be plain sailing, but then numbers 2 to 8 Medina Terrace became Grade II listed buildings on 2 November 1991. For example, in September 2011 it was decreed that the brightly-coloured beach hut at the rear of the premises would have to go. Then in 2012 there was uproar over the Verner Cross, which needed to be moved if their plans to extend the coach house at the rear of their property into a music studio and boat store were approved. This cross is in memory of Wilford Cole Vernor who died on 21 November 1889, and it was erected by his sister, Ida Constance Verner, who lived at 2 Victoria Terrace. There was no burial involved. Conservationists were outraged, and it transpired that the Verner Cross needed to receive separate planning approval in order for it to be moved. However, all is now sweetness and light, because although the cross has been moved, it is still there for all to see, and moreover it has been carefully restored so that it is now looking better than it has done for years.

There was further anxiety when it was revealed that the Gilmours had purchased Medina House on the seafront. Sad though it might seem, this venerable and historic building was found to be in such a parlous state, that it was impossible to save. The only solution was demolition and a re-build. But again, the Gilmours came up trumps when the frontage of their new building emerged from the scaffolding in 2020. It is a beautiful building and pays full acknowledgement to history; it has won praise from all sides.

copyright © D. Sharp
The 'new' Medina House in December 2020

Incidentally, it is interesting to note that in May 2012 when workmen were busily engaged at the rear of Gilmour’s residence, they uncovered an unexploded German World War Two bomb; it was still live but fortunately the detonator was missing. The bomb was 350mm with a diameter of 60mm. The bomb disposal squad were summoned.

Katherine O’Shea

A notorious happening that was supposed to have taken place at Medina Terrace titillated the Victorians. It involved Mrs O’Shea and the famous Irish politician Charles Steward Parnell (1846-1891). She is of course better known to history as Kitty O’Shea, but this name has derogatory, undertones, and to her family she was always Katherine. Shortly before Christmas 1883 Mrs O’Shea rented a furnished house at 8 Medina Terrace on the insistence of her husband, Captain O’Shea, because of its proximity to the sea. At the same time she hired Caroline Pethers to be their cook. By this time Katherine had already known her lover Parnell for three years, although Captain O’Shea did not decide upon a divorce until 1890.

During the divorce action, Caroline Pethers, the cook, alleged that on one occasion when Parnell visited Katherine at Medina Terrace, Captain O’Shea returned home unexpectedly. Apparently, Parnell avoided an embarrassing situation by rushing to the balcony, and climbing down a rope escape ladder. Whether or not the allegation was true (and the two people concerned denied it) the story caught the public imagination. The cartoonists had a field day while music-hall comedians made frequent reference to it. Even the toy manufacturers got in on the act, and soon little models of the fire escape and a tiny Parnell were on sale to the public.

Pretoria House

This was the name of a boarding establishment at 5 Medina Terrace. An advertisement of 1907 recorded that the terms were one and a half guineas to two and a half guineas a week, according to the choice of bedroom. It promised ‘Liberal Fare. Separate Tables. Bath, hot and cold, extra. Perfect situation’.

Sources

Argus (25/5/12 / 26/5/15 / 12/11/16 / 16/12/20)

Brighton Herald

Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade

Gilmour, C. Featherhood (2020)

O’Shea, K. Charles Stewart Parnell; His Love Story and Political Career (1914) 2 volumes

Porter, H. A History of Hove (1897)

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Copyright © J.Middleton 2021
page layout by D.Sharp