12 January 2016

Hove Plaques Index N - R

Listed below:- Sergeant Dennis Noble, Charles Stewart Parnell, Margaret Powell, Roger Quilter, Stephen Ralli, William Marsh Rigden, John Round.
Sergeant Dennis Noble (1920-1940) 
Judy Middleton (2014 revised 2017)
copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque - 290 Portland Road
Dennis Noble joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1938 and on 5 August 1940 he was posted to Tangmere. On 16 August 1940 he had his only combat victory when he shot down a German plane. But any elation he might have felt was short-lived, because he became increasingly battle weary. He began to feel the odds were stacked against him because he had already received three hits and he did not expect to survive the war.

He was fond of making model aircraft but he put plans for the one he hoped to start, right at the bottom of his kit bag and told a friend he did not think he would ever begin constructing it.

On 30 August 1940 Noble’s squadron was scrambled at 11. 45 a.m. and just fifteen minutes later Noble crashed. Squadron Leader J.V.C. Badger led the flight of six Hurricanes and Noble was his wingman. The Hurricanes encountered one enemy plane.

John Thorpe’s theory (Argus 19 August 2000) was that Noble was killed by machine-gun fire from the rear-facing guns of this unidentified German bomber. But the popular theory has always been that Noble was involved in a dog-fight with a Messerschmitt 109. Whatever the truth of the matter the Hurricane with Noble inside crashed at a speed of 400 mph and ploughed into the ground at Woodhouse Avenue to a depth of some fifteen feet.

John Thorpe lived at Bolsover Road and the crash site was only around 400 yards from his home, on a small piece of wasteland near Portland Gate. All the wreckage that could be recovered was stacked at the north west corner. The green and brown camouflaged port wing of a Hawker Hurricane fighter (P3179) was plain to see.

Mr Blake was caretaker of Portland Road Schools and he saw the plane coming down with the pilot still in the cockpit. The Civil Defence workers at the scene had limited resources and they cleared away what they could. At the time the supposed wisdom was that an aircraft crashing at such a speed would smash a body to smithereens. Therefore, after such remains as could be found, were gathered together, the coffin was weighted to spare the feelings of his relatives and sent back to his family. This was common practice in such cases.

On 30 October 1996 it was announced that 45-year old Keith Arnold, founder member of Southern Counties Aviation Club, planned to dig up the remains of the Hawker Hurricane over the weekend of 8 November to 10 November. He thought the plane was located under the driveway of 59 Woodhouse Road. He had permission from the house’s owner, the highways department of East Sussex County Council and the Ministry of Defence who issued the appropriate licence as they were satisfied that Sergeant Noble’s remain s had been removed.

On 8 November 1996 a team of eight men began work at 8 a.m. watched by a curious crowd of around twenty people. The first pieces came to light just after noon; they included parts of a fuel tank, live bullets and a button from a uniform. But the following day they unexpectedly came across Sergeant Noble’s remains.

There was consternation locally and horror from his family, particularly from his 80-year old cousin Gwendoline who had been placing flowers on his grave in Redford every week since she attended his funeral in 1940. The coroner was informed and so were the police who supervised the rest of the excavation. It was said that if it had been known officially his remains were still there, a licence to dig would never have been granted. But some local people, such as 70-year old George Parsons, always knew he was still down there.

There was further controversy when a local councillor said Hove Council had designated the crash area as a war grave around eight years ago. Then the late Gerald Spicer RAFVR of North Road, Portslade, waded in and wanted to know that if she knew about it, why did she not inform Keith Arnold?

On 18 December 1996 an inquest was held at court 3 of Brighton Magistrates’ Court into the death of Sergeant Dennis Noble. Dr Donald Gooding, the coroner, recorded a death by enemy action and commented ‘Dennis Noble was one of the Few. It is a tribute to him and his colleagues that we hold this inquest … Dennis Noble was a hero.’

Dr David Melcher identified the remains by a ring on Noble’s finger and he was only aged twenty when he was killed. The evidence uncovered by the excavation suggested that John Thorpe’s theory was correct. In British fighter planes, pilots always sat on top of the parachute pack and Noble’s was stained with blood and had been struck with bullets.

Dennis Noble’s funeral was held at Redford, Nottinghamshire, on 23 January 1997 and the RAF staged a fly-past in his honour.

A block of flats called Portland Gate was not far from the crash site. By the time it was demolished Portland Gate was in a terrible condition. A splendid new block of flats arose in its place and moreover the general public had been given the opportunity to comment on their preference from several designs put on display. It was decided that the flats should be called Noble Court in honour of Sergeant Dennis Noble. The flats were officially opened on 21 August 1998 and the occasion was marked by two fly-pasts, the first towards the sea and the second east along Portland Road. There was a Hurricane, a Spitfire and a Lancaster. More than a hundred people watched the fly-past including Noble’s nephew who bore the same name. 
 copyright © J.Middleton
Noble Court in Portland Road
 Nearby is a pub that was formerly called Jamaica Inn. In August 2013 it was renamed  
Noble House in honour of Sergeant Noble. In 2017 the pub changed its name to the Garden Bar after an extensive makeover.
copyright © J.Middleton
The former Noble House Pub in Portland Road photographed from the corner of Mansfield Road, which is only one road away from the crash site.
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
 Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891)
 Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque – The plaque is near the entrance to Dorset Court.
Charles Stewart Parnell was born at Avondale, County Wicklow. Although celebrated as a great Irish patriot, it could not be claimed his origins were Celtic. His father came from an old Cheshire family whose forebears purchased an estate in Ireland during the reign of Charles II; his mother was the daughter of an admiral of the United States. This American connection was to prove valuable in later years when he was able to raise a great deal of money there for the cause of Irish freedom.

Parnell was elected a Member of Parliament in 1875 and by 1880 he was leader of the Home Rule party in the House of Commons. He enjoyed such a high standing in Ireland that he was popularly known as the uncrowned king of Ireland.

By 1889 Parnell was at the height of his powers, being undisputed leader of the Irish Party, comprising 73 members. It seemed nothing would prevent him from winning home rule for Ireland from Gladstone.

But then in November 1890 Captain O’Shea brought forward his divorce action naming Parnell as his wife’s lover and it signalled the end of Parnell’s hopes and dreams as well as the demise of his political career. Although Parnell soldiered on, his credibility had been shot to pieces.

The irony was that Captain O’Shea must have known about the situation for some time but it suited him to keep quiet all the time the money was rolling in from his wife’s Aunt Ben (Mrs Wood). However, once she died, O’Shea must have felt he had nothing to lose.

The reason why Parnell and his lover Kitty O’Shea hold such a fascination for Hove people is that they once lived in the town. Just before Christmas 1883 Mrs Katherine O’Shea took a furnished house at 8 Medina Terrace at her husband’s insistence. Apparently, she had already entered into an agreement to rent a house in Second Avenue but the captain wished to be as close to the sea as possible. When Mrs O’Shea rented the house, she also engaged the services of Caroline Pethers as cook.
copyright © J.Middleton
Captain O’Shea and his wife rented 8 Medina Terrace (the corner property) in 1883.
Number 8 Medina Terrace is the corner property overlooking the promenade and the sea. There were also spectacular views from the front of the house along the coast to Brighton because in those days of course there were no high-rise flats in the way to block the view.

By this time Katherine had known her famous lover for three years and in 1883 their daughter Clare was born. (In the divorce action there was said to be no doubt that Parnell was the father of Clare, and Katherine who was born in 1884. But the parentage of poor little Claude Sophie who was born in 1882 and only lived for two months, is less clear).

Medina Terrace was the scene of a notorious incident, and whether it was real or imagined, it caught the attention of the British public. In the divorce action, the cook Caroline Pethers asserted that on one occasion when Parnell was visiting Mrs O’Shea, Captain O’Shea returned home unexpectedly. Parnell managed a quick exit by rushing out onto the balcony and climbing down a rope escape ladder. It seems unlikely that Parnell could have managed this feat in broad daylight without other people noticing, and both Parnell and Katherine maintained the house had no such fire escape.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the image of a fiery Parnell beating a quick retreat over the balcony was too good to be left alone. Cartoonists set to work and music hall comedians included jokes about the affair in their act. Even the toy manufacturers managed to get a slice of the action by creating models of a ladder complete with a tiny Parnell.

In 1889 another house was rented, this time in Aldrington. When Parnell and Katherine moved there with their horses and dogs, the house at 10 Walsingham Terrace was the last in a spacious row before open countryside was reached. The house was four-storeys high and there was a glazed-in balcony with iron decorations at top and base. Katherine described the attractions of living there, ‘cornfields from one side of the house away up to Shoreham basin and harbour, a waste of hay at the back of the house, an excellent train service and sufficient distance from Brighton proper to enable us to avoid the crowd.’

From the side windows the couple enjoyed wonderful sunsets when the ‘whole west was a veritable fairyland of gold and crimson, and the harbour and Shoreham town, with the little country church of Aldrington against the setting of the Downs, were touched with a pearly mist of light.’ In the dining room that Parnell used as his sitting room was the roll-topped desk Katherine had given him. In the basement a furnace had been installed so that Parnell could enjoy his hobby of assaying. He found this pastime so absorbing that Katherine had the greatest trouble getting him outside the house to take some fresh air and exercise.

The O’Shea’s divorce was made absolute on 26 May 1891 and at once reporters laid siege to Walsingham Terrace hoping to discover the date of the long-awaited wedding. Parnell told his groom that the carriage would be needed at 11.30 a.m. the next day and that the groom would be required to act as a witness. In reality, this was a subterfuge because Parnell realised the secret could not be kept.

 copyright © D.Sharp
This plaque is on the former Steyning Registry Office on 
the corner of Church Street and High Street in Steyning.
The Registry Office served 25 parishes including
 Hove, Aldrington and Portslade from 1837-1935.
Instead, Parnell and his bride set off from the house at 6 a.m. in a phaeton and the bride was in the driving seat. Soon after setting off, they heard the clattering of hooves behind them from the pursuing horde of reporters. Parnell said ‘They are after us; let Dictator go.’ As Katherine wrote ‘I let Dictator go and he – the fastest (driving) horse I have ever seen – skimmed over the nine miles in so gallant a mood that it seemed to us but a few minutes’ journey.’

Their destination was Steyning where the registrar Edward Cripps married them on the 25 June 1891. Dictator had been so fast that as the newly married pair left Steyning, they passed ‘the newspaper men arriving at the gallop.’

The Parnell’s marital bliss was pathetically short-lived and less than four months later Parnell was dead. The continual travelling to and from Ireland had worn him out and on 6thOctober 1891 he died of inflammation of the lungs in their house at Walsingham Terrace. It was a night when the warm weather had given way to a gale, which howled around the house. His last words were ‘Let my love be conveyed to my colleagues and to the Irish people.’ His fever was so virulent that his body remained warm for many hours after his death.

His body was taken back to Ireland where he was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. It was a tremendous public occasion and it was said some 160,000 people followed behind the cortege. His memorial takes the form of a massive rough-hewn stone with the single word PARNELL.

Meanwhile the unhappy Katherine survived for 30 lonely years, moving house frequently, and subject to bouts of insanity. By a curious quirk, Captain O’Shea who could have been expected to avoid Hove like the plague, chose to live in a nursing home at 19 Lansdowne Place where he died on 22 April 1905, aged 65.

Katherine O’Shea died on 5thFebruary 1921 in Littlehampton.

On 9th March 1943 the part of Walsingham Terrace that included the Parnell’s residence and two other houses was damaged by bombs and later demolished. In its place there is a modern block of flats called Dorset Court. On 7th November 1986 Noel Dorr, Irish Ambassador, unveiled a plaque commemorating Parnell placed near the entrance to Dorset Court.

In 1994 Parnell Court was the name chosen for new housing constructed by Chichester Diocesan Housing Association at Medina Place, formerly Medina Mews, off Osborne Villas. A plaque was placed over the archway leading to car parking spaces. But it is badly placed and has not weathered well; it is almost impossible to make out the inscription from street level. The wording once stated ‘This building is dedicated to the memory of Charles Stewart Parnell 1846-1891 Member of Parliament (resident?) of 8 Medina Terrace.’  
copyright © J.Middleton
It is easy to read the address but is nearly impossible to decipher the blue plaque from street level.
Lyons, F.S.L. Charles Stewart Parnell (1977)
O’Shea, Katherine, Charles Stewart Parnell, His Love Story and Political Life (1914) 2 volumes.
Marlow, Joyce, The Uncrowned Queen of Ireland. Life of ‘Kitty’ O’Shea ((1975)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
Margaret Powell (1907-1984)
Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque - 222 Old Shoreham Road, Hove
Margaret Powell (née Langley) was born in Hove and she was the second child in a family of seven. As the eldest daughter she was obliged to help out with looking after her younger siblings and seeing to the housework. Her mother earned a pittance of 2/- a day for doing domestic work for grander folk and she was out of the house from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Her father earned a living as a painter and decorator but he was often unemployed during the winter months.

Margaret’s family found it difficult making ends meet. Young Margaret was often sent early in the morning to queue outside Forfars the baker in Church Road, Hove, armed with a clean pillowslip. When the shop opened, staff sold yesterday’s bread and rolls cheaply. Margaret also remembered the Soup Kitchen in Sheridan Terrace where soup could be purchased for a penny. The recipe of 1909 sounds good enough with quantities of meat, rice, onions, carrots, turnips and parsnips. But perhaps by 1914, standards had slipped. At any rate, Margaret remembered it as ‘thin, watery pea soup’. There was the added indignity of having to carry the soup back home in a large washstand jug with everyone she passed realising her family was hard pressed.

In spite of her domestic duties, Margaret flourished at school to such an extent that she was awarded a scholarship at the age of thirteen to go to grammar school. The teachers thought she had the potential to become a schoolteacher. But that would entail keeping her in education until she was eighteen, which her struggling parents could not possibly afford.

Margaret had to abandon her scholastic aspirations, left school and worked first in a laundry work and then took a job in domestic service. One of her positions was as a kitchen maid in a grand house in Adelaide Crescent where she earned £24 a year paid monthly. But her mother had to fork out to equip her daughter with the complete uniform required. This consisted of three print dresses (blue or green) four white aprons and caps, plus stockings and black shoes. The whole ensemble cost £2.

Margaret stayed in domestic service for ten years but she did work her way up to become a cook. She always said the experience was no help in cooking meals for an ordinary household. The items she learnt to cook were fancy and expensive dishes suitable for dinner parties. She finally left domestic service to marry Albert Powell, a milkman. She realised she was fortunate to find a husband with so many young men having been killed in the war. The couple had three sons.

When her eldest son was away at university and her youngest son was attending grammar school, Margaret decided it was time to concentrate on her own education. At the age of 58 she passed her ‘O’ levels and then proceeded to study for her ‘A’ level. In 1969 she passed her English ‘A’ level.

In 1966 her life took on a completely new aspect when she was ‘discovered’. What happened was that she was chosen from her group of evening class students to give a talk on BBC radio in the series It Takes All Sorts. A publisher happened to be listening and was so impressed that he contacted her to see if she would like to write a book about her experiences. The result was her best seller Below Stairs published in hardback in 1968. Two years later it was printed in paperback and by 1972 had gone into ten printings. It is still in print to this day, an achievement by any standards. One reviewer wrote that her book would be ‘quoted by social historians when the statistics of the sociologists have withered to dust.’

It is interesting to note that Below Stairs inspired two actresses whose mothers had also been in domestic service, to create the well-loved TV series Upstairs, Downstairs. It was also one of the factors behind Downton Abbey. Margaret had a very robust view of domestic service in the ‘them and us’ category. She liked to throw cold water over the popular notion of a loyal servant toiling away for her employer to whom she was devoted. But such women did exist and there are tombstone inscriptions at Hove from grateful employers to prove it.  

Margaret Powell was much fêted by the media and she gave numerous TV and radio interviews and appeared in quiz shows. Her good humour, down-to-earth character and peals of loud laughter endeared her to a host of people. For her part, she thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of it all and the wonderful perks such as being sponsored to visit the United States and Australia in order to produce books about her trips. Her celebrity enabled her to buy her own house at Hove, which must have been a source of wonder to her after such humble beginnings.

She wrote eighteen books including Climbing the Stairs, The Treasure Upstairs, My Mother and I and Margaret Powell’s London Season. When she was in writing mode she used to rise at 5.30 a.m. in order to make a good start. She was a frequent visitor to Hove Library.

Margaret Powell was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy. She survived the disease for many years while at the same time realizing her second son David was dying of a brain tumour. He died in 1979 while his mother died on 25 April 1984 in the Avenue Clinic in New Church Road. In the same month as her death, her last book The Butler’s Revenge was published. By this time her husband Albert was aged 81 and his two surviving sons, Harry and Philip, looked after him.

In May 1992 Audrey Buttimer, Mayor of Hove, unveiled a commemorative plaque at Margaret’s home 222 Old Shoreham Road, Hove. Two of her sisters were present at the ceremony. They were Elsie Bardsley of Olive Road and Flo Butcher of Conway Court. Brighton & Hove Bus Company named a bus Margaret Powell.

Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Powell, Margaret Below Stairs (1968)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
Roger Quilter (1877-1953)
Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque – 4 Brunswick Square
Roger Quilter was born at 4 Brunswick Square, Hove, on 1st November 1877. Some reference books record his place of birth as Brighton but this is a common mistake, not helped by the fact that people who lived in the Brunswick area in the nineteenth century often referred to their place of residence as Brighton. Brunswick Town was built within the parish of Hove but its eastern boundary was right next door to Brighton’s boundary whereas the old village of Hove was away to the west.

Roger was the son of Cuthbert Quilter and Mary Ann, daughter of John Whealey Bevington of Brighton. Cuthbert Quilter was knighted in 1897. He was a man of wealth and as well as being a stockbroker and businessman he was well-known for his art collection.

According to the 1881 census, the Quilter children were Maude 13, Norah 10, William 7, John 6, Roger 3, Percival 2 and two-month old Eustace. The Quilters lived at 4 Brunswick Square from 1874 until 1885 when they left because Cuthbert was elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Sudbury, Suffolk. In 1911 his eldest son became the 2ndbaronet.

Roger Quilter enjoyed a privileged upbringing. He spent three years at Eton, which he hated and five years studying music at Hoch Conservatoire, Frankfurt. Whilst he was studying there, his circle of friends included Norman O’Neill, Balfour Gardiner, Cyril Scott and Percy Grainger – the latter being a particular friend – and they became known as the Frankfurt Group.

Quilter had no financial worries while he devoted his life to music and it was not essential that he earned his own living. Quilter’s first published songs were Songs of the Sea, which he dedicated to his mother and he wrote the words as well as the music. In 1900 Denham Price sang Songs of the Sea at the Crystal Palace.

Quilter was noted for his setting of Shakespeare’s lyrics although it must be admitted it was sometimes to the detriment of his other work. For example, in 1922 when Quilter and Leslie Woodgate met Charles Corri, musical director of the Old Vic, Corri commented ‘I only know one song of yours O Mistress Mine and I don’t think much of it.’

How refreshing it must have been years later when Sir William Walton congratulated him on his setting of Non Nobis Nobile to words written by Rudyard Kipling in 1937 and said ‘Quilter, you’ve written a noble strain.’

One of Quilter’s best songs was Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal with words by Tennyson; it was claimed the song showed ‘his delicate talent at its happiest’.

Charles Hawtree commissioned Quilter to write the music for the children’s play Where the Rainbow Ends, which had its premiere in 1911. It is interesting to note that a young Noël Coward played the part of the unpleasant pageboy. The play was a success and continued to be produced over the Christmas season for many years. It also became a ritual that the children of the Italia Conti School who had taken part in the play would be invited to a Rainbow Party at Quilter’s house. After tea there would be games and Quilter enjoyed playing the piano for musical chairs.

In 1929 Quilter wrote A Children’s Overture; it was an illustrated book of nursery rhymes, namely Walter Crane’s Baby’s Opera that inspired the piece. Sir Henry Wood presented the work to his promenade audiences, to the great delight of his listeners.

Gervase Elwes was a fine interpreter of Quilter’s songs and in 1921 the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund was founded in his memory with Quilter being one of the founder members.

In the 1930s Quilter recorded a number of his songs for Columbia Records when he accompanied the baritone Mark Raphael. Quilter produced an enormous output and between 1904 and 1947 he composed 97 songs.

In October 1949 he attended the 11th anniversary celebrations of Brighton & Hove Soroptomists Club and with Stella Child played his famous A Children’s Overture as a piano duet.

Quilter was often in bad health but friends knew him as a kind, gentle and generous man. He was also something of a wit and practical joker. He remained a lifelong bachelor. His later years were sad because he suffered from depression, which was not alleviated by the fact his music had gone out of fashion. His Songs of Sorrow was written after a period of illness and depression. When he died in 1953, he was insane.

Harold Child , who lived at Brighton, was a friend of Quilter. He met him as a student at the Royal Academy of Music when he had to sing some of Quilter’s Shakespearean songs with a string quartet. Quilter was a great help in furthering Child’s musical career. Child remembered that Quilter was devoted to his nephew Arnold Guy Vivien, son of his sister Norah, and he holds the opinion that Quilter never recovered when Vivien was killed in 1943 while fighting the Germans in Italy. Quilter’s song Over the Mountain was dedicated to his memory. There was another tribute to his nephew too; this was the Arnold Book of Old Songs, a collection traditional songs from around the British Isles as well as France.

In 1977 to celebrate the centenary of Quilter’s birth, a special exhibition was mounted in the Wolseley Room at Hove Library. The glass cases displayed photographs of his birthplace in Brunswick Square, and of Acacia Road, St John’s Wood, where he died on 21 September 1953; of Eton, where he was at school for three years; of Hoch’s Conservatoire in Frankfurt, where he studied; and of Quilter himself in classic profile. There were also copies and photocopies of some of his musical works and a programme for Where the Rainbow Ends in 1911.

Census Returns
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Internet searches
Middleton, J. A History of Hove (1979)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
Stephen Augustus Ralli (1829-1902)
Judy Middleton (2002 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque  - The plaque is located at Ralli Hall on the corner of Denmark Villas and Station Approach.
The Ralli family were of Greek extraction and came from the island of Scios. They built their fortune as trading merchants, particularly in grain. Renton Ralli (1822-1895) had a grand house at 39 Park Lane, London but he also liked to take the sea air and maintained a residence at 11 Queen’s Gardens, Hove. Reuben Sassoon also lived in Queen’s Gardens and so did his brother Arthur Sassoon, before he moved to 8 King’s Gardens. Renton Ralli did not follow family convention and made his pile in railway stocks.
copyright © J.Middleton
The most striking aspect of this view is the forest of chimney pots. The photograph was taken after St Catherine’s Lodge became a hotel in 1927. The garden frontages survived until the 1960s when they were swept away to widen Kingsway. 
Stephen Ralli, on the other hand, followed in the footsteps of his forebears and made his money as a grain dealer. He too had a grand address in Park Lane at number 32. He also liked to be beside the seaside and lived at St Catherine’s Lodge from around 1894 until 1902 and his widow continued to live there until her death in 1922. The Rallis kept their horses not too far away at 2 Medina Mews, off Osborne Villas, now called Medina Place.

St Catherine’s Lodge, when the Rallis lived there, was numbered at 9 and 10 St Catherine’s Terrace, which began to be built in the 1850s. By 1854 eight houses had been erected and more houses were in the course of construction.

On 16 February 1893 Hove Commissioners passed plans for alterations and additions to St Catherine’s Lodge drawn up on behalf of Stephen Ralli by well-known builder J.T. Chappell. It seems that Mr Chappell built St Catherine’s Lodge in the first place but he was also responsible for some notable buildings at Hove including Hove Town Hall, Hove Hospital, some houses in King’s Gardens, Connaught Road Schools and Davigdor Road Schools. In addition it is reckoned he built on at least 120 units out of 269 units on the West Brighton Estate (that is, the Avenues and Grand Avenue). Hove Commissioners did not object to the addition of a smoking room in St Catherine’s Lodge but they did object to the idea of a projecting hood being erected over the public footpath and turned that part down.

After Mrs Ralli died, it seemed St Catherine’s Lodge remained empty but then in 1927 it opened as St Catherine’s Lodge Hotel. Further on in time it is pleasant to record that the beautiful dining room with its elegant proportions and plaster mouldings became a venue for wedding receptions where once the Rallis had held sway.

Stephen Ralli left £1,069,000 when he died. It must have been a happy marriage because his widow Marietta Ralli was determined his name should not be forgotten. Acts of philanthropy were not unknown in the family because when typhoid broke out in Worthing in 1893 resulting in 1,000 cases, Stephen Ralli hastened to give £300 towards a special fund to help them.

At All Saints Church, Hove, Marietta donated the three east windows in memory of Stephen Ralli and his two sons Augustus and Antonio. There is a tablet to her memory at the west end of the church, which includes the family coat of arms.
copyright © J.Middleton
All Saints Church. 
In Stephen Ralli’s memory, Marietta donated in 1904 and 1906 to the Royal Sussex County Hospital sums of money and stock amounting to £26,434-7s to endow and fit up a department of clinical research and bacteriology. There is a marble plaque commemorating the gift. There is also a brass plaque at the hospital stating that some of Mrs Stephen Ralli’s money had been used to set up an orthopaedic wing in 1923.
copyright © J.Middleton
Royal Sussex County Hospital
The most visible reminder of Stephen Ralli at Hove is the Ralli Hall at the top of Denmark Villas. The indenture was dated 2ndMay 1913 and was between Revd L.H. Burrows, Bishop of Lewes and Vicar of Hove (first part) Mrs Marietta Ralli (second part) William Hunter Cockburn (solicitor of 1 Duke Street, Brighton) Arthur Desborough Clarke Esq (of 59 Norton Road) and Jeremiah Colman Esq (of Wick Hall). London architects Read and Macdonald were responsible for the design of the building, which by general consensus is reckoned to be a fine structure; on 2nd November 1992 it received Grade II listed status. The builders were Chapman, Lowry and Puttock. It was unique in Hove because it contained different sized rooms to fit all activities. The main hall had a stage and dressing rooms and could hold around 350 people.  
copyright © J.Middleton
Ralli Hall. 
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Hove Commissioners Minute Book
Internet Searches

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
William Marsh Rigden
Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
William Marsh Rigden was born in Southwick. No doubt it was his father or other close relative who had dealings with Shoreham Harbour Commissioners in 1816 when the new cut was made to the sea. W.G. Rigden’s offer to supply chalk to Shoreham Harbour Commissioners was not the lowest tender but he had the advantage of being closest to the harbour. In 1819 he supplied chalk for infilling behind the piles and in 1820 he delivered 2,000 tons of large chalk at 4/- a ton for the sluices.

William Marsh Rigden rented his farm at Hove from the Stanford Estate in the 1830s. The land stretched from the top of the hill at Dyke Road to where the Dyke Hotel now stands and thence to the coast. This meant he had the benefit of hill pastures for his sheep while he could grow arable crops in the latter part.

Rigden was newly married when they moved to an old farmhouse situated in what is now Wilbury Road. When this area began to be built up, the Rigdens moved to Goldstone House close to the football ground.

In 1851 Rigden was noted in the census as being aged 32 and farming 750 acres with the assistance of 50 labourers. He lived with his wife Ellen, also aged 32, and their daughters, Ellen 9, Catherine 8, Martha 7 and two-months old Louisa, and their sons, William 6, and two-year old John. The household included a governess born in Halifax, USA, and four servants.

Ten years later the daughters were still living at home, unmarried, and there was an addition to the family, six-year old Charles. Rigden’s acreage had gone down to 700 acres and he employed 45 men and ten boys. His twelve-year old son John attended a small private school run by Thomas Barton at 64 Brunswick Place, Hove, which had nineteen boarders on the premises.

'The flock returning to Blatchington, Hove'
 illustration from the Brighton Season Magazine of 1906
The 1871 census recorded daughters Ellen and Catherine still at home and they had a new sister, five-year old Edith. Their 22-year old brother John Hunter Rigden was home on census night and he was a civil engineer.

Another daughter, Louisa, attended a school in Medina Villas and was thus able to assist her father by interpreting for the French dealers who came to buy Rigden’s pedigree Southdown sheep. Louisa married a Mr Trist.

Apparently, Rigden’s annual Southdown sheep sale was legendary. It attracted interested parties from across the board, from English aristocracy to foreign buyers. In September 1873 the Brighton Gazette reported that the annual sale of Southdown sheep had taken place. The flock had been established for 30 years and this was the 27th or 28th sale. There was a very large attendance of gentlemen and luncheon was provided in a spacious booth near the pens; every seat was taken.

William Marsh Rigden has gone down in local history as the man who employed labourers Churcher and Terry to bury the Goldstone. This was because he was angry at the spoliation of his crops by sightseers traipsing through his fields to have a look at it. 
copyright © J.Middleton
What would Rigden have thought of all the fuss made about trying to find the Goldstone he had caused to be buried? To him it was a nuisance, probably on a par with all the flints occurring naturally in the earth he farmed.
If the Goldstone incident casts him in a bad light, then his gesture in March 1863 ought to redress the balance. In that month the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) married Princess Alexandra of Schleswig-Holstein-Sanderberg-Gluckburg. To celebrate the happy occasion, Rigden threw a party for 800 Hove children in his long barn.

He was a generous employer too. When the men carried the last corn home to the barn at harvest time, he supplied them with copious quantities of beer. The occasion, which went by the curious name of Hollingpot, was celebrated in the foreman’s cottage near where the church of St Agnes was built. Frank Upton, Rigden’s shepherd, remembered these jolly harvest times with nostalgia. Frank Upton used to take the sheep down the track (now Wilbury Road) to the sea-front lawns to crop the grass before the visitors arrived. On the way he passed a large house where a pretty housemaid would lean over the gate to have a chat. They later married.         

Rigden was also churchwarden of St Andrew’s Old Church for 40 years.

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St Andrew’s Old Church.
In 1877 it was announced that Rigden would shortly be leaving his farm. He commented ‘One could not live in a place so long and leave it without regret.’ He had been on the farm for 40 years, going there shortly after his marriage and all his children had been born at the farm. The Brighton Gazette commented ‘the name of Rigden has for so long been associated with affairs in Hove that we are sure his removal will be a source of regret to an extensive circle of inhabitants.’

Rigden had not wanted to leave but there had been many annoyances bothering him in the last few years. The final straw was when he had prepared land for his sheep and the land was suddenly taken away from him without the slightest notice. He had every right to be furious; the steady march of bricks and mortar and the profits to be made were to blame.

For more information of the history of the 'Goldstone' see  Ancient Hove and also William Hollamby

Census Returns
Brighton Gazette (September 1873)
Brighton Gazette (1877)
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Sussex Daily News (18 December 1935) Upton’s Memories

Copyright © J.Middleton 2014
John Horace Round (1854-1928)
Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
Plaque – 15 Brunswick Terrace
John Horace Round was born on 22 February 1854 at 15 Brunswick Terrace. The house was built in 1827 for his grandfather John Round and J.H. Round continued to keep the property when he was grown up. The Rounds must have had one of the longest family associations with Hove.

The Rounds had extensive connections with Essex and John Round served as Member of Parliament for Ipswich from 1812 to 1818 and for Maldon from 1837 to 1847. John Round died in 1860.

J.H. Round’s father married Laura, youngest daughter of Horatio Smith whose best-known poem was Ode to an Egyptian Mummy. Smith also wrote novels and made a fortune as a stockbroker. It is interesting to note that a Miss Smith, daughter of Horatio Smith, was considered in the 1830s as the beauty of the exclusive school for young ladies founded by Miss Poggi at 32 Brunswick Terrace. It was said that Thackeray named the heroine of Pendennis after Laura Smith.

Unhappily, Laura died at the early age of 36 in 1864 when J.H. Round was only ten years old. Her death was such a blow to her widower that he could not bear to live in the house where they had been so happy. Although he retained ownership, he lived elsewhere for some 23 years and only returned to Brunswick Terrace in 1903 and there he remained until he died.

In view of this history, perhaps it is not surprising that J.H. Round liked to keep everything inside the house precisely the same as it had always been. Therefore ‘every glass shade and every antimacassar occupied exactly the same place that it had occupied when his father was alive.’

The Times described J.H. Round’s influence on the development of historical scholarship as profound ‘for he was a pitiless critic, attacking with impartial violence friend or foe, if he or she … dared to make an avoidable mistake, somewhat in the spirit of those Renaissance scholars for whom an error in grammar was a crime more revolting than murder.’

Antony Dale wrote of Round ‘He is perhaps best remembered for the violence with which he set forth or maintained his opinions in all historical arguments – a violence probably unequalled in the whole of English historical literature.’

Round waged a long war with Mr Freeman, a fellow historian, over the knotty problem of the Battle of Hastings.

The Round family connection with Essex has already been mentioned. It is interesting to note that one of Round’s most recognised achievements was a translation of the part relating to Essex in Domesday Book. He was in the forefront of meticulous historical research. But he was also fascinated by genealogy, which in his time was not considered worthy of academia, but of course is today considered of great importance to many people. 

There exists in a private collection a letter written by J.H. Round to Charles Thomas-Stanford dated 22 August 1923. The address was printed in red letters at the top of the page as 15 Brunswick Terrace, Brighton. He used to say this was the address that his grandfather used and he was adhering to family tradition. He had in his possession letters to his grandfather going back to 1828 with this precise address.

The letter was written in a large, untidy scrawl but he apologised for this and explained he had been laid up in bed as an invalid. He wrote the letter to Thomas-Stanford concerning the latter’s recent publication of Wick: a Contribution to the History of Hove.

Round wrote ‘it recalls to me memories of my youth, when I was too delicate to be sent to school and had to spend most of my time in solitary tramps over the Downs in search of health. I well remember the sudden sharpness of the break from the town to the open country at the top of Lansdowne Place. On the left were the stacks of Wick Farm; on the right was the farm yard – with the guns of the volunteer artillery packed under a long lean-to shed. My father used to take me to call on Mr Rooper, the quaint old clergyman who then lived in what is now Wick Hall.’ (Whatever his medical problems, Round managed to study at Balliol College, Oxford and came away with a First Class Honours degree).

But Round also took Thomas-Stanford to task as to the correct meaning of the word Wick, the appearance or non-appearance of Hove in Domesday Book, and whether or not Simon de Pierpoint took part in the siege of Acre in 1191 in the company of Richard, Coeur de Lion. But this was mild behaviour for Round and after all, the two families knew each other.

Round died at Hove on 24 June 1928.

In November 1990 Thomas Woodcote, Somerset Herald of the College of Arms, unveiled a plaque at 15 Brunswick Terrace to commemorate J.H. Round.


Revd Thomas Richard Rooper (the quaint old clergyman mentioned in the letter above) was a man of note at Hove. Although he moved south because of delicate health, he managed to survive for another 30 years at Hove. When he came to live at Wick Hall, he found there was no parochial school and he was instrumental in persuading the National Society to start educating poor children from 1834. At first the school met in the Old Market until 1840 when enough money was raised by public subscription to build new schools in Farman Street. Rooper was also a Brunswick Square Commissioner, a Hove Police Commissioner and a governor of the Royal Sussex County Hospital. Rooper was involved in the building of St John’s Church at Hove but he resigned from the building committee because he was angry that poor people were not being allocated a fair share of seats and there was no evening service for tradesmen. He was also unhappy at the soaring cost, which was well beyond the £3,000 of the original estimate. Rooper died in 1865 and part of his memorial inside St Andrew’s Old Church records his unremitting endeavour to alleviate the sorrows of the afflicted and distressed and to elevate the religious and moral condition of the children of the poor by improved education.’ His widow Persis died in 1871.

Rooper’s youngest son, Major Edward Rooper of the Rifle Brigade, died of wounds received at the Battle of Inkermann in the Crimean War. Another son, Revd William Henry Rooper was the incumbent of St Andrew’s, Waterloo Street from 1856 to 1863.  

Borer, Mary Cathcart Willingly to School (1976)
Dale, Antony Fashionable Brighton (1947)    
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Internet searches

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