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04 August 2018

Fourth Avenue, Hove.

Judy Middleton 2002 (revised 2018)

copyright © J.Middleton
Numbers 17 & 19 Fourth Avenue provide stunning examples of houses built in the ‘Arts & Crafts' style that provided abundant interesting details such as gables, impressive chimney-stacks, tile-hanging, and oriel windows

Development

Fourth Avenue was built on land that was once part of the Stanford Estate. It might seem logical that the Avenues should have been developed before the Cliftonville area immediately to the west – seeing as Brunswick Town on the east side was the first major development at Hove. But land belonging to the Stanford Estate could not be built upon while the heiress, Ellen Stanford, was still a child and trustees looked after her business affairs. (For more details, please see under First Avenue).

First, Second, Third and Fourth Avenue plus Grand Avenue were part of the West Brighton Estate, Perhaps the developers were hoping to exploit the cachet associated with Brighton, but instead Brighton seized upon the name as a very good reason why Hove should be amalgamated with Brighton. This idea was deeply resented by Hove residents and Hove applied for a Charter of Incorporation instead. Indeed, the resistance to joining with Brighton continued until the 1990s when the majority of residents voted to remain independent of Brighton. However, for whatever reasons, the government decided to ignore the result, and the amalgamation went ahead.

Fourth Avenues was the last of the Avenues to be developed. For example, in 1880 it was noted that houses were in the process of being built at Fourth Avenue, while Third Avenue already had two occupied houses, Second Avenue had nineteen occupied houses, and at First Avenue there were ten inhabited houses plus some empty properties.

By 1890 Fourth Avenue had overtaken Third Avenue in the popularity stakes because there were nine occupied houses compared to only five in Third Avenue.

In December 1889 Mr Woodruff congratulated the town on the ‘acquisition of the two thoroughfares, known as Third and Fourth Avenues’. But this did not mean that building work had ceased – far from it. The pavement on the east side was not completed until 1895 while the street was not declared a public highway until 1903, and house building continued.

House Notes

Number 3 

 copyright © J.Middleton
Dr. F. Mott Harrison built up an impressive collection relating to John Bunyan, 
and lived in this house

In 1916 Hove Council approved plans submitted by Messrs Albery & Lawrence on behalf of Mr F. Mott Harrison to convert the property into three flats. Harrison became a Hove councillor in 1917 and served for many years, being made an Alderman in 1942.
  copyright © National Portrait Gallery, London
John Bunyan (1628-1688)

In May 1935 London University conferred the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Music on him following his thesis Aspects of Music in England in the 17th century especially with reference to the Puritan influence. But Dr Harrison’s chief claim to fame was as an expert on the works of John Bunyan (1628-1688). He built up a magnificent Bunyan library of over 400 volumes including seventeen items printed during Bunyan’s own lifetime, nine first editions, one work so unique that the only other known copy was in the British Museum, and other rarities that were completely unknown elsewhere. 

On 29 September 1938 Dr Harrison presented his collection to Bedford Public Library, which he felt was fitting because it was near Elstow where Bunyan was born. The official catalogue of his gift amounted to around 800 items because there were prints and other objects relating to Bunyan.

Number 6 – In 1926 the West Brighton Estate Co applied to Hove Council for planning permission to turn the house into flats

Number 7 – In 1940 it was called Kent House and Mrs Elliott Clark ran a hotel there.

Number 8 – In 1940 Mr and Mrs Drake ran a private hotel in the house.

Number 9 – This was the last house in Fourth Avenue to be converted into flats. Although planning permission for the property to be converted into flats was granted in 1923, it was never acted upon and it was not until the 1980s that local development company Millmanor Estates created seven one-bedroom and two-bedroom flats with gas central heating. There were fitted carpets, corniced ceilings, and luxury bathroom fittings. By May 1995 one two-bedroom flat remained at a price of £42,000, and there were three one-bedroom flats available at £32,000.

Numbers 13 & 15 – In 1893 Hove Council granted planning permission for plans submitted by Mr G.M. Jay on behalf of the West Brighton Estate Co to build two semi-detached villas on the east side.

Number 13 – 2nd Lieutenant Weare was educated at Uppingham, and later lived in this house, while his parents lived in The Drive. He was only aged twenty when he was killed on active service on 20 September 1917 at the Third Battle of Ypres, A touching handwritten note on his service card stored at Hove Library stated ‘He was never found, presumably blown to pieces’.

Numbers 17 & 19 – In 1894 Hove Council granted planning permission for plans submitted by Mr G.M. Jay on behalf of the West Brighton Estate Co to build two houses.

Numbers 21 & 23- In 1894 Hove Council gave planning permission for plans submitted by Mr M. Coxted on behalf of the West Brighton Estate Co to build two semi-detached villas.

Number 23 
 
 copyright © J.Middleton
Major General Arthur Kennedy Rideout, a veteran of the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny, lived in this suitably impressive house

 copyright © D. Sharp
Major General Arthur Kennedy Rideout
Major General Arthur Kennedy Rideout (1835-1913) a veteran of the Crimean War, lived in this house, having previously occupied premises at 50 The Drive in the 1890s.

As for the Crimea, in 1854 Rideout embarked for Bulgaria and the Crimea with the first siege train, and remained throughout the conflict, being present at Inkerman and Sevastopol’ He served in the trenches, and commanded batteries of mortars. 

For his valiant service he received a Mention in Despatches, the Crimean War medal with two clasps, was appointed a knight of the L├ęgion d’Honneur, and was awarded a Turkish medal. 

In 1856 he was employed in Turkey on the telegraph staff but perhaps he missed Army life because the following year he applied to join the Royal Horse Artillery and as a consequence served during the Oude Campaign, and throughout the Indian Mutiny of 1858-59.

Numbers 24 & 26 – In 1927 Hove Council gave planning permission for plans submitted by Mr E.J. Love on behalf of Mr D.S. Barclay to build a pair of semi-detached houses.

Numbers 25 & 27 – In 1895 Hove Council gave planning permission for plans submitted by Mr G.M. Jay on behalf of the West Brighton Estate Co to build a pair of semi-detached villas.

Number 28 

   copyright © J.Middleton
Samuel Denman was the architect of Hove Club
 
The edifice of Hove Club is surely the most impressive pile in Fourth Avenue. The architect was Samuel Denman of 27 Queen’s Road, Brighton, and several tenders were considered in July 1897 – the winning tender offered to build the structure for £5,882.

A Mr Smith was a steward at Hove Club but he was killed in the First World War. His mother, Mrs Minnie Smith of 78 Westbourne Street, Hove, wrote, ‘My dear son was a splendid fellow, and was twice rejected as medically unfit at Chichester, but was called, at Hove, when they were very short of men, and passed the third time […] It has been a sad blow to me, the light of my life has gone out because they passed him and he was quite unfit and his last words to me were “Mother, whatever I go through I will stick it to the last.”’

Number 35 

  copyright © J.Middleton
The Dowager Lady Queensbury and Lord Alfred Douglas lived in this house for eight years.

The Dowager Lady Queensbury and Lord Alfred Douglas lived in this house from 1927 to 1935. Lord Alfred Douglas (1879-1945) was very proud of his ancestry, being a direct descendant of the Douglas killed at Chevy Chase on his father’s side, and on his mother’s side he descended from the famous Percy family.

copyright © D.Sharp
Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas is buried with his Mother,
The Dowager Lady Queensbury
in the cemetery of the Franciscan Friary of
St Francis & St Anthony, Crawley
He was a handsome man and a poet of some distinction but unhappily for his reputation, he is chiefly remembered today because of his association with Oscar Wilde. They first met in 1891 when Douglas was aged 21 and Wilde was 37. Although their relationship had disastrous consequences, Douglas always maintained that Wilde’s best work was written when they were together. 

In 1902 Douglas married Olive Custance to the fury of her father Colonel Custance. Although they lived together happily for ten years, it was pressure from the irate colonel that forced a separation and he also tried to gain custody of their only child, a son. In 1927 Lady Queensbury and Douglas moved to 35 Fourth Avenue, which a recent biographer described unkindly as a rather dingy house. While living in Fourth Avenue, two friends lent Douglas the use of a large, quiet room in Brunswick Square where he could write his autobiography in peace – it was published in 1929. 

On 19 May 1931 Mr M. Montgomery Hyde travelled down to Brighton aboard the Brighton Belle to visit Douglas and arrived at 1 o’clock. Hyde was given a glass of sherry on arrival, and then partook of a meal that included smoked salmon, chicken, meringues, wine and liqueurs. In 1935 Lady Queensbury was obliged to sell the house in Fourth Avenue and move into a nursing home. Douglas moved to 1 St Ann’s Court, Nizell’s Avenue, Hove, where today a blue plaque commemorates his stay

Numbers 37, 39 & 41 – In 1897 Hove Council gave planning permission for plans submitted by Mr M. Coxted on behalf of the West Brighton Estate Co to build three houses.

Number 39 

  copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph features numbers 39 and 41 Fourth Avenue – during the Second World War number 41 was the HQ of the 5th Brigade / Toronto Scottish. The playwright Sir Arthur Wing Pinero once stayed at number 39.
 
Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, playwright, whose most famous play was The Second Mrs Tanqueray, stayed in this house in November 1901.

Number 41 – During the Second World War, this house served as the headquarters of the 5th Brigade / Toronto Scottish.

Beaumont Mansions – A married couple with a memorable surname – Kekewich – lived at number 3 Beaumont Mansions around the time of the First World War. Lewis Pendarves Kekewich was born in 1859, and on 2 October 1884 he married Lilian Emily Hanbury. The Kekewichs had seven children, but sadly two daughters died in childhood but they still had four sons and a daughter. They lived an enviable life-style indulging in country pursuits such as shooting and riding – Lilian was an excellent horsewoman and was a Hunt member. In 1909 Kekewich purchased Kidbrooke Park, Forest Row, Sussex, but sold it in 1916.

copyright © D.Sharp
The three Kekewich brothers are commemorated on Hove’s
 war memorial brass tablets at Hove Library

The Kekewichs suffered terribly during the war because three sons were killed on active service, while the fourth returned home badly wounded and only fit for a desk job. The first loss was Captain John Kekewich of the Buffs who died near Loos on 25 September 1915. He need not have been there because he had once been a planter in the Malay States but returned home to do his duty. Captain George Kekewich, City of London Yeomanry, was serving in Palestine when he died on 28 October 1917, from wounds received the previous day at the Gaza Front. Nine days later, the eldest son, Captain Hanbury Lewis Kekewich, who had served seven years in the Sussex Yeomanry, and was also in Palestine, was killed in action near Sheria on 6 November 1917. 

These three men are commemorated on the brass tablets of the war memorial in the vestibule of Hove Library.

copyright © J. Middleton
 The names of 619 Hove men who died in the Great War are listed on the memorial brass tablets in the vestibule of Hove Library

In poignant memory of her great losses, Lilian Kekewich made several donations of her precious pearls towards the British Red Cross Pearl Appeal, instituted by Lady Northcliffe and publicised in her husband’s newspapers. The idea was to invite donations of pearls to be made into a necklace and put up for auction – the money to be used for the care of the war-wounded. The idea caught on, and far from a single strand of pearls, by the time the appeal ended there were enough pearls to form 41 necklaces, besides brooches and tie-pins.

Fourth Avenue Mansions

  copyright © J.Middleton 
A colourful display of flowers greet visitors to Fourth Avenue Mansions (Middleton) Place under Fourth Avenue Mansions

Hove Council used these premises for some years as overflow council offices. By the 1990s the council had decided to sell its share of the property to the Sanctuary Housing Association and the council also provided a grant of £130,000. The Housing Corporation provided £369,113 and there was funding from the private sector too. The property was then converted into fifteen homes – that is ten two-bedroom flats and five one-bedroom flats. On 19 October 2000 the project was formally opened.

Miscellaneous

Maisner Centre for Eating Disorders – In 1981 Pauletta Maisner founded this clinic in Fourth Avenue but in 1994 the business went bankrupt.

Debbie and Eddie Shapiro – In October 1999 it was stated that the two authors had recently moved to Fourth Avenue, having decided on the move after doing a book-signing at Borders in Churchill Square. He is American and she is English and they specialize in writing about stress-free living, their latest book being Voices from the Heart.

Sources

Argus
Street Directories
Hyde, H. Montgomery Lord Alfred Douglas (1984)
Internet 
Middleton, J. Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Murray, Douglas, Bosie. Life of Lord Alfred Douglas (2000)
National Portrait Gallery, London 
Trethewey, Rachel Pearls Before Poppies (2018)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2018
page layout by D.Sharp