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24 July 2018

Third Avenue, Hove.

Judy Middleton 2003 (revised 2018)

 copyright © J.Middleton
This view of the west side of Third Avenue was taken on 26 June 2018. In the distance Langford’s Hotel is obscured with scaffolding

Third Avenue was part of the development known as the West Brighton Estate that also included First, Second and Fourth Avenue plus Grand Avenue. (For further information, please see under First Avenue).

The avenues were laid out in grid fashion, running north to south. The West Brighton Estate developed some of the land in Third Avenue, while plots were also sold to individual builders. This caused Third Avenue to be quite diverse in the style of architecture, and presenting nothing like the uniformity to be found in First and Second Avenues. By contrast, Third Avenue displayed red brick mansions, white brick houses, houses in the Arts and Crafts style with red brick, mock beams, tile-hanging, gables and wooden balconies, plus infilling with typical Thirties semis plus a modern block of flats.

A Nun in Residence

Third Avenue made its first appearance in the Directories in 1878 when the solitary inhabitant was Madame Vercruysse. This good lady was in fact a nun and Belgian-born Mother Fébroine Vercruysse (1832-1895) had come from France with some nuns. She supervised the construction of the Convent of the Sacred Heart in the Upper Drive, Hove. By 1882 she had moved the scene of her activities to Australia where she founded another Convent of the Sacred Heart.

Pavements

In August 1895 the Hove Commissioners were informed that the West Brighton Estate, because of complaints about unpaved footpaths, intended to lay 3-ft wide Victoria concrete slabs along the whole central part of the footpath on the west side, providing the company was not charged for re-paving when houses were built.

Whether or not this work was carried out is uncertain, but in 1898 the Borough Surveyor stated the time had come to complete the paving on both sides of Third Avenue. The West Brighton Estate Company was to be asked to carry out the work as provided for in the resolutions passed by Hove Commissioners on 12 December 1889 and 14 June 1892. The Borough Surveyor commented that Third Avenue was 1,140 in length, of which 405 feet on the east side, and 186 feet on the west side were still unpaved.

It seems the making-up of the road was a long-drawn out affair because the road was not officially declared a public highway until 1927.

Funeral Cortéges

In times past there was a row of wooden posts north of St John the Baptist’s Church, which prevented vehicles from passing from the Brunswick area into Church Road, Hove. Therefore, funeral processions heading for St Andrew’s Old Church would have to progress along the seafront road and turn up Third Avenue, This happened in 1884 with the funeral of baron de Teissier.

House Notes

Number 1 – Lady Palin lived at flat 2 in this house in 1940.

Number 2 – In 1896 this house was sold for £5,500. Sir Jack Hobbs (1882-1963) one of England’s greatest batsmen, lived in a flat in this house for a while. Hobbs settled in Hove after the Second World War and lived in a succession of flats – in Third Avenue, Wilbury Road, Furze Croft, before finally coming to rest at 13 Palmeira Avenue, where there is a plaque to his memory.
On 2 November 1992 this house became a Grade II listed building.
In recent years it has become the Pembroke Hotel for the Retired. It retains some individual features such as the stained-glass roundels depicting wild birds.

Number 3 – Edward Elias Sassoon had a fashionable address in Grosvenor Place, London, but from 1891 to 1893 he kept this house as his seaside villa. Hw was the nephew of Sir Albert Sassoon. The Sassoon family had a liking for Hove because Aaron David Sassoon lived at 35 First Avenue, Arthur Sassoon lived firstly at 6 Queen’s Gardens and subsequently at 8 King’s Gardens, Reuben Sassoon lived at 7 Queen’s Gardens and Flora Sassoon lived at 17 Adelaide Crescent. The Sassoons were known as the ‘Rothschilds of the East’ and Edward Elias Sassoon was born in Bombay – when his elder brother died in 1916, he became Sir Edward Elias Sassoon, 2nd Baronet of Bombay.

Number 4

copyright © J.Middleton
King’s Cliff, 4 Third Avenue.
 
This house called King’s Cliff is undoubtedly the most spectacular house in Third Avenue. The house stands on the west side of the road and was built in around 1880 – it first appeared in the Directories under the name Kingsworthy House.

The residence is a large double-fronted house of three storeys plus a basement and an attic. It is built in yellow, stock brick with terracotta dressings and moulded bricks. The most startling decorations are the arched heads over the windows that are filled with an enormous sunflower and foliage motif.

 copyright © J.Middleton
Sunflower detail above the windows.
 
A path and flight of steps in black and white geometric tiles, and carried on a flying arch over the basement area, leads to the front door The ornate recessed porch carries a sgraffito panel on either side, featuring figures in mediaeval costume. The south panel carries the words ‘Come unto these yellow sands’ (Ariel’s song from Shakespeare’s The Tempest Act 1 scene 2 – the words have been set to music by Purcell and Roger Quilter), while the north panel has ‘Hand in hand with fairy grace will we sing and bless this place’(from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 5 scene 2).

  copyright © J.Middleton
Left:- This scene is located on the south side of the doorway, Right:- This scene is on the north side of the doorway.

  copyright © J.Middleton
The Juliet balcony on the south side of number 4
On the south side of the building there is a picturesque Juliet balcony with decorated arches resting on red columns. Viewed on a day of deep, blue skies, the balcony assumes the air of a little piece of Italy.

Apparently, the house started off as a school for young ladies run by a Miss Scott, but like so many small, private schools in Hove, it did not last long. The house was too big for the use of one family and the idea grew that the only option was to divide it up into flats. This horrified the neighbours and a petition was swiftly compiled and signed by seventeen owners and occupiers of the West Brighton Estate objecting strongly to the proposed conversion of the house into five maisonettes.

The petitioners thought such an idea would be in contravention of deeds and covenants. Hove Council’s response was that if the plans conformed to the bye-laws, they had no alternative but to recommend approval.

The house received Grade II listed building status on 2nd November 1992.

Number 6

   copyright © J.Middleton
During the First World War this house was used as a Red Cross Hospital

 copyright ©  Royal Pavilion & Museums,
 Brighton & Hove
This is another house built in the grand style of yellow brick with a cast iron balcony. This house was the property of Sir Cavendish and Lady Boyle at the time of the First World War. Louise Judith was a member of the Sassoon family, and she married Sir Cavendish Boyle in a quiet ceremony on 9 July 1914 with the reception being held in the family home at 7 Queen’s Gardens, Hove.

The Boyles lent the house to the Red Cross for use as a Red Cross Hospital and from September 1914 to December 1918 the number of patients treated there from Britain, the Empire, and the USA came to 1,431. The hospital had a happy atmosphere and soldiers described it as ‘the nest shop in the place’. Lady Boyle was later awarded an OBE for her war work with the Red Cross.
 
From around 1921 the Sussex Branch of the Royal Colonial Institute occupied the house, with Percy Martindale being the secretary. It later became known as the Royal Empire Society and by 1960 it was the Commonwealth Society, and it was still there in 1971. However, by 1960 the rest of the premises had been converted into flats.

   copyright © J.Middleton
Men who were wounded at Hill 60 and Neuve Chapelle in the garden of Third Avenue's Red Cross Hospital in 1915

    copyright © J.Middleton
A close-up of the lovely ironwork at number 6

On 2nd September 1992 the house attained Grade II listed building status.
For some years the house was home to the English Language Centre but by April 2003 it was enveloped in scaffolding as the whole building was converted into nine flats.

Number 10 - In 1897 Hove Council approved plans by Mr M. Coxted presented on behalf of the West Brighton Estate Co to build two semi-detached houses, numbers 10 and 12. The West Brighton Estate Co was also responsible for the building of numbers 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24, and M. Coxted was certainly the architect for numbers 18 to 24.

  copyright © J.Middleton
Now forming part of Langford’s Hotel, 
this house was once a convalescent home
 called Rose Vale
Numbers 8-16 – Langford’s Hotel – the first mention of Langford’s Hotel appears in the Directory for 1947 – the publication of Directories was suspended during the war years – but an advertisement for Langford’s had already appeared in 1946.

In 1934 Mr M. Hirst ran a private hotel at number 8, Mrs H. Langford occupied numbers 10 to 12, while at number 14 there was a convalescent home run by the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, a fraternal organisation launched in 1822. Under its jurisdiction the house was known as Rose Vale.

By 1936 number 8 was called Third Avenue Court Hotel Mr M. Hirst, proprietor, providing residential chambers and self-contained service suites, with a bathroom and a telephone in each suite. Meanwhile Mrs Langford had acquired number 14, to add to the two she already owned. It seems likely that she built up her hotel during the war years.

The 1946 advertisement stated that the hotel was fully licensed and centrally heated, and there were 100 bedrooms. All modern amenities were provided, including a telephone in each room (three lines, number 8222) and there was hot and cold water and gas fires. There was a ballroom, a night porter was in attendance, and the hotel was open to non-residents. Fresh produce was provided daily ‘from our farms and nursery at Ditchling’. The hotel management also ran furnished flats and suites at 8 Second Avenue and 2 Fourth Avenue. In addition there was a Langford’s Restaurant at 22 Western Road, Brighton. By 1949 the Tudor Bar was being advertised.

In April 1965 an art exhibition was held at Langford’s. Such art exhibitions used to be held at Hove Library until it was decided there was no longer the space for such an activity. Art exhibitions continued to be held at the hotel for some years.

By 1980 Harry Bloom’s hotel consortium owned Langford’s Hotel and in May of the same year purchased the Imperial Hotel in First Avenue. Harry Bloom was vice-chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion FC. In 1987 both hotels were sold for £3.3 million.

In 1991 Langford’s Hotel had 40 members of staff, and there were 69 bedrooms and six function rooms. Tina Paul was the general manager, and she thought the hotel was unusual in employing so many women in key positions – Sue Ferry was in charge of the restaurant, Zena Austin was head receptionist, Kelly Sands was head housekeeper,, Winnie Agnew was breakfast supervisor, and Christine Robert-Shaw was conference and banqueting co-ordinator. But the chefs were still male – they were Stephen Smith and Steven Watkin. The hotel specialised in wedding receptions and conferences.

In 1991 Langford’s Hotel went into receivership but in April the same year, the receivers took the unusual step of deciding to spend money on re-furbishing some bedrooms, the function rooms, stairways and corridors in the hope of attracting a potential buyer. By July 1992 the refurbishments were complete – having cost £1 million instead of the £200,000 originally estimated, and Refal 354 Ltd were running the hotel. By 1995 the company operating the hotel was called Palmstock, although a local businessman owned the freehold. The new manager, David Mitchell, said more money was budgeted to be spent on improvements for the hotel spread over two years to provide two new function rooms, besides a general upgrading with a new heating and hot water system.

In 2014 Langford’s remained in business as a three-star hotel. In July 2018 the netire frontage of Langford’s was festooned in scaffolding and plastic sheeting.

Restaurant – The hotel’s restaurant was located at 8 Third Avenue, and there is direct access from the street. The Grill Room opened there on 20 January 1964. By the 1980s the restaurant was called The Caprice, which in 1988 could accommodate 70 people. The Caprice continued to be the name until 29 June 1988 when it became Leone’s Oyster Bar and Restaurant. Andrew Emmanuel created the new restaurant, and he had more than 40 years of experience in the catering industry. The décor was definitely opulent, and it was designed in the Romanesque style. Local artist Mathew Brett was commissioned to create the ceiling paintings. A company called Exclusive Effects executed the marbling on the pillars leading to the Oyster Bar, while the draped curtains and chandeliers added to the sumptuous effect. Dominic Baghan from Chez Maxim, Paris, was the executive chef with Ercole Timanti being the restaurant manager.

Number 15 – The Avenue Bridge Club has been located in this house since the 1950s. In 1995 the club had 360 members. In June 1994 John Forro purchased the building and set about restoring it. He was astonished when he opened the boarded-up fireplaces to find the original fireplaces still in place complete with tiles, firedogs and cradles with brass-work. However, the chief glory was the magnificent stained-glass window lighting the staircase. A.W. Loomes, bronze medallist and stained-glass artist, of 7 Blatchington Road, was the man responsible. The style is pre-Raphaelite with rich colours, and features a young lady playing a musical instrument, while underneath is the legend ‘Music’. The window probably dates from around 1906 when the house was built – the first occupants being Mr and Mrs M. Joseph.

Number 22 – In 1898 Hove Council approved of M. Coxed’s plans presented on behalf of the West Brighton Estate Co. to build two semi-detached houses (numbers 22 and 24) on the west side.

It may seem surprising but this building was once home to Hove Library for five years. The library moved into the house on 28 June 1903, having previously been located in cramped quarters at the top of Grand Avenue. It was while the library was at Third Avenue that delicate negotiations went on with wealthy philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who was famous for endowing the construction of libraries all over the world. Carnegie agreed to donate £10,000 towards the building of a brand new Hove Library in Church Road, which opened with a flourish in 1908, and fortunately remains to this day.

Albert Mews – It is situated on the north east side of Third Avenue. It leads to the back of Albert Mansions, and also provides back access to business premises in Church Road. It appears that Albert Mews still has its original wooden name board in situ. Along the north side runs a wall, and in front of it are two enormous tree stumps, not together, but separate. From the circumference of the trees, it is possible that the trees pre-date the buildings – indeed it may the reason why they have been left alone because to dig them out might lead to the collapse of the wall.

In September 1995 Hove Council granted a licence to Messrs Ray & Sons of 66/68 Church Road to store 500 gallons of petrol in the private approach to their garage in the mews. The firm also proposed to erect a pump with a swinging arm to operate over the pavement in Third Avenue, which could be folded back when not in use.

By 1927 Thomas Morch, motor engineer, had taken over Ray & Sons. Hove Council granted him a licence to store 500 gallons of petrol in the underground tank, plus 100 gallons in two-gallon cans.

King’s Mews – J.T. Chappell’s plans for the mews were approved in 1881; the mews are at the top east side of Third Avenue with the entrance under a two-storey, scroll-headed archway. The southern block remains closer to its original state.

In December 1898 Mr E. Winter wrote to Hove Council concerning better lighting being provided in the mews. The council replied that if the owners of the mews were to provide a lamp, and keep it in good repair, then the council would undertake to pay for the gas to light it.

In 1916 Hove Council approved A.H. Lainson’s plans on behalf of Howard Parsons to convert the first floor of number 8 into small flats. It seems probable that nothing was done because the following year, Mr Parsons offered Hove Council number 8 rent-free for the duration of the war, and his offer was accepted.

In 1921 there were plans to convert the stables at number 5 into a garage for Colonel Sty Leger.

On 26 October 1995 Virginia Burstow, aged 65, and her cat, died in a fire that broke out in the early hours in her flat in the mews above Heathcote’s Garage. It was thought the fire originated in her armchair, which was filled with polyurethane foam.

Some people believe that number 5 is haunted. One evening in 1996 one of the occupants happened to glance in the bathroom on her way downstairs, and noticed the figure of man, seemingly dressed in black, standing at the washbasin. At the time she was quite unperturbed because she thought it was her son but when she reached downstairs, she found her son seated with the rest of the family, in the lounge. On entering the room she must have looked as white as a sheet because her husband asked her what was the matter. When she told him, he said, Oh, you’ve seen him as well, then.’ The couple were the only ones to see the ghost, but others have heard strange noises, while articles have been moved around. A young friend, who was left alone for a short time, was so unnerved by the sound of footsteps plus the peculiar behaviour of the cats, that he left in a hurry, leaving a note pinned to the door.

Sources

Argus
Directories
Middleton J, Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Hove Council Minute Books

Copyright © J.Middleton 2018  
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