12 January 2016

Adelaide Crescent, Hove

Judy Middleton 2001 (revised 2022)

copyright © J.Middleton
In this photograph taken on 8 May 2009, Adelaide Crescent curves gracefully towards the sea, which can be glimpsed in the distance.

Early Days

The land on which Adelaide Crescent was built was part of the Wick Estate owned by the Scutt family throughout the 18th century. In 1825 Thomas Scutt agreed to sell part of the land to Thomas Read Kemp who envisaged an estate of houses similar to those constructed in Kemp Town. But no finance was forthcoming and by 1830 the entire Wick Estate was in the hands of Isaac Lyon Goldsmid.

Goldsmid employed the architect Decimus Burton for his Hove project and building work started the same year. Burton’s design for the projected crescent went on view at the Royal Academy in 1831 and Goldsmid obtained William IV’s permission to name the crescent after his Queen. The original name was Queen Adelaide Crescent and although people soon shortened it to two words, the term Queen Adelaide Crescent was still used in a legal document of 1871.

The Brighton Herald (3 December 1831) announced that a new crescent ‘was now being laid out by Mr G. Cheesman in the brickfield adjacent to Brunswick Terrace.’ The plan was to build the crescent in a half-moon shape and ten houses were constructed between 1830 and 1834 at the south east corner with three houses facing the sea.

copyright © J.Middleton
This part of Adelaide Crescent fronting the sea was built in the 1830s and was the first part of the crescent to be finished.

Then progress on the development ground to a halt. It may have had something to do with the disastrous collapse of the Anthaeum in 1833 situated just north of Adelaide Crescent in what would later become the gardens of Palmeira Square. It was claimed that the Anthaeum was the largest dome ever built, exceeding even that of St Peter’s in Rome. The structure composed of iron rose to a height of 70 feet and there is some confusion as to whether or not it was fully glazed before it collapsed.  For years no attempt was made to clear the site and Joseph Paxton visited the ruins. He was interested because he was engaged in the building of the Crystal Palace where the Great Exhibition of 1851 was held.

copyright © J.Middleton
The drawing of the Anthaeum was copied from a print of 1833, 
the very year in which the building collapsed.
Isaac Lyon Goldsmid was a major investor in the Anthaeum and there was talk of starting again from scratch but nothing came of it. Perhaps Goldsmid was disheartened by this major setback because it was not until 1850 that he could bring himself to consider how best to complete the crescent. The lapse of time caused him to revise the original plans and instead of a half-moon shape he opted for two separate wings, curving elegantly towards Palmeira Square – in fact the layout we are familiar with today.

During the years from 1850 to 1860 the rest of Adelaide Crescent was completed. This entailed finishing off the east side and constructing the whole of the west side. Both sides of the crescent were built in three sections with the roof-line at different levels. But the finest portion remains the earliest part facing the sea at the south east corner and numbering 1 to 3. It has elegant proportions, a distinctive pediment and frieze and a parapet with balustrade. It also gains in stature from its elevated position when viewed from the seafront.

The 1854 Directory listed thirteen houses and seven of them were let as furnished residences. By 1861 there were 38 houses but only 29 were occupied. Professions of head of households were as follows – three merchants, two land proprietors, two retired officers, a Captain of the Bengal Army (retired) a barrister, a retired farmer, two clergymen (without care of souls) a bishop, the Sub-Dean of Exeter, the Vice-Dean of Rochester and Edward Beasley, seller of Bibles. Viscount Ashbrook, Sir William Milner, and Lieutenant Colonel William Cavendish and Lady Emily Augusta Cavendish represented society


copyright © J.Middleton
It is plain to see from this old postcard of 1906 that the façades of the crescent were not painted a uniform colour. The postcard was sent from one servant to another (Miss M. Richards, then working in Mayfair). The message reads ‘You see I have sent you our old house at Brighton as you have not seen it I have marked it. The house I am at is the other side. I could not get this side of the Crescent, they are nice big houses. Well, I like my place very much, I am out on the carriage every day now.

Out of the whole crescent, the Cavendishes maintained the largest household with an astonishing fourteen servants (ten females and four males). The 29 occupied houses employed 182 servants (130 females and 52 males). But this is not a complete picture because three houses were only partially occupied; the families (probably with some servants) were away on census night. The total does not include governesses but it does include butlers and valets, The more prestigious a household, the more male servants were employed. They were something of a luxury because the Government imposed a special tax on their employment. Sir William Milner had six male servants and Viscount Ashbrook matched the Cavendishes with four. Only the household at number 19 had no live-in servants.

By 1866 all the houses were occupied. Taking the crescent as a whole during the 19th century, it is remarkable how often the residents were London-born widows. Probably the next largest class was the merchants.

Margaret Powell, author of bestseller Below Stairs, worked as a kitchen maid in the crescent in the 1920s. She earned £24 a year, paid monthly, but her mother had been obliged to spend £2 on providing her with a uniform. Margaret Powell worked in the basement, which was so dark the light had to be kept switched on all day. When her work was finished she faced the weary climb up 132 stairs to the attics at the top of the house where the domestic staff’s bedrooms were located. Outside the front door there were fourteen wide stone steps that had to be scrubbed daily.


It is interesting to note how long the Wick Estate (later the Goldsmid Estate) continued to own houses in the crescent. For example, in 1907 it owned numbers 2, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, (15, 16, and 17 had been converted into flats) 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34 and 38. In 1945 the Estate still owned five houses.


copyright © J.Middleton
The old swan-necked lamp standards were once a familiar sight at Hove. This one was
 photographed on 19 July 2002. It has since been replaced by a lantern-shaped style 
and an example can be seen in the background.

In December 1894 the surveyor reported on the lighting in Adelaide Crescent and Palmeira Square. He noted the lamps varied in distance apart from 94 feet to 180 feet. It was decided to add two new lamps and re-arrange existing ones in order that they should have a uniform distance from each other of 120 feet. The surveyor also reported that the lighting could be considerably improved by fitting new lanterns because the ones in use were heavily patterned and large corner stays further obstructed the light. The estimated cost of new lamps was put at £35. More lamps were added in 1898. In February 1911 the surveyor suggested that seven lamp columns of tall and slender design should be replaced because they vibrated in windy weather and mantles were destroyed. He suggested lamp columns with the standard reeded base. The cost was estimated at £21.

War Damage

On 31 January 1943 a sea-mine exploded off Adelaide Crescent causing extensive damage to window glass in nearby houses and shops.

Listed Building Status

The damage caused by the war years certainly concentrated people’s minds regarding the provision of more housing. There was a feeling around that perhaps old houses should be demolished and new ones built. There was even a proposal to demolish historic Brunswick Square and Brunswick Terrace and replace them with blocks of flats. This provoked a furious debate but the fortunate outcome was that on 24 March 1950 Brunswick Square, Brunswick Terrace and Adelaide Crescent became Grade II listed buildings.

Adelaide Crescent Ramps Saga

copyright © J.Middleton
This view was photographed on 14 July 2014 and shows a close-up of the graceful flight of steps and bottle balusters between Kingsway and Adelaide Crescent.

By some curious oversight the Adelaide Crescent ramps were not included although they formed a handsome and integral part of the original scheme as devised by Decimus Burton. The ramps provided vehicular access from Kingsway up an incline to the crescent. The walls are splayed for extra strength. At either end there is a flight of steps for pedestrians and the bottle balusters are charming. The steps are paved in York stone; those at the south west being replaced in 1897 and those on the south east following in 1910. After an accident in 1897 and a letter to the authorities from Dr Dawson calling for action, a central handrail was installed and a lamp placed on an adjacent parapet wall.   

Mrs Trusler was born in Adelaide Crescent in 1860 and she remembered being told stories of when the ramps were built. She stated the extra earth needed for the project was taken from a small hill at the top of Holland Road. It seems probable that this ‘hill’ was actually a pre-historic barrow, one of three in the immediate neighbourhood, now alas all destroyed. Mrs Trusler commented that the earth contained human bones.

copyright © J.Middleton
Photograph taken on 21 October 2018 and shows the beautiful bottle balustrades to advantage
In 1965 it seemed that Hove Council fully intended to demolish the Adelaide Crescent ramps in order to widen Kingsway. The alternative scheme, which had been thrown out earlier that year, was to chop off some 2,600 feet from the famous Brunswick Lawns. Sir Hugh Casson and local architect John Wells-Thorpe developed plans whereby the ramps would be set back some 68 feet. Their proposals included a new ramped vehicular access road with two raised terraces and a classical garden pavilion on either side. The Fine Art Commission backed the scheme, which was projected to cost in the region of £82,500 to implement.  

copyright © J.Middleton
A second photograph of the beautiful bottle balustrades taken on 21 October 2018

Later on Sir Hugh Casson was asked to clarify his position because Hove Council gave the impression that he agreed with the road widening. He wrote ‘I have not approved the removal of the service roads to produce a six-lane highway nor was my opinion asked on this point.’ But he did think the scheme was preferable to cutting through Brunswick Lawns.

The proposals caused a storm of protest. Mr J.L. Digby-Roberts, chairman of Hove Civic Society, stated they had opposed the first plan when it was submitted two years previously. By August 1965 the Society had written to Hove Council protesting about the inadequate notice of redevelopment. The plans were announced on 21 July 1965 and Hove Council approved them a mere eight days later. One councillor voted against the plan and he was Alfred Tink, the only Liberal councillor.

Captain C. Wynn RN (retired) of Adelaide Crescent wrote to the Town Clerk ‘it is an outrage that prior and adequate arrangements for consultation with the citizens of Hove to obtain their views had not been made before the decision was taken.’

In September 1965 Hove Civic Society asked the Ministers of Housing, Local Government and Transport to review the scheme. But they were not much help because in December of that year they suggested the six-lane highway should go through the lawns instead.

Meanwhile in December 1965 Hove Council spent two hours debating the issue and decided that the demolition of the ramps should proceed. But public opinion was hardening against the scheme and it also entailed some loss to Brunswick Square Gardens. A public meeting at Hove Town Hall found that 678 people were against the scheme while 163 people were in favour. John Betjeman, Lord Holford, Sir William Teeling MP (he lived at Hove) and Labour MP Dennis Hobden lined up on the side of the opponents.

Hove Council was obliged to hold a town poll on 13 January 1966 for the first time in twenty years. As Hove Town Hall had been recently gutted by fire, the count was conducted at the Ralli Hall. The result was that 4,970 people voted against the scheme and 2, 787 people voted in favour.

On 5 May 1969 the Adelaide Crescent ramps became Grade II listed buildings. Hove Council restored them in 1981-1982 and during the summer of 1999 they were again renovated at a cost of around £20,000.
copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
An aerial view of Adelaide Crescent, 11 September 1972.

Painting the Stucco

In July 1975 the Conservation Area Advisory Committee discussed the possibility of asking the Council to introduce measures to regulate the colour of exterior paint used in Adelaide Crescent and Palmeira Square. At that time negotiations were working but by 1977 they were not. A survey disclosed that at least eight different shades were being used on the stucco ranging from white, magnolia, grey and yellow to cream with a pink or greenish hue. Some facades were covered in emulsion, others in gloss paint while use was also made of masonry paint. Some parts of a single building were painted in different shades.

The Borough Planning Officer recommended magnolia gloss for the stucco and black gloss for the ironwork with the colour of the street doors being left to individual choice.

It is interesting to note the problem had not arisen when the houses were under the control of the Goldsmid Estate. There was a stipulation in the leases that the premises must receive three coats of oil paint every third year. The name of the chosen paint would be written down and left at the house one month before work was due to begin.

Fire Regulations

In June 1983 Hove Council told the occupants of one of the buildings in the crescent that extra fire precaution work must be carried out. But they would receive a grant of 75 per cent. The work involved the removal of a valuable wrought iron staircase, covering stained glass windows with fireproof glass and thickening internal doors. The work cost £9,000 and was completed by the end of May 1984. It was ironic that just two months later, Hove Council relaxed their stringent fire precaution rules, thus rendering the work unnecessary. To add insult to injury, the residents had still not received their grant by October and they could not afford to decorate the exterior because the money set aside for it, had been spent on the fire safety demands. It then transpired that Hove Council had been wrongly handing out these grants since 1980. There was a huge row and calls for the chief executive to resign.

Sewer Trench Tragedy

In 1988 work was being done to install a new sewer was in the crescent. In December of that year workmen were digging out a twelve-foot trench when the sides suddenly collapsed and a man was crushed to death. Colleagues and firemen worked for six hours to free the body. Francis Comiskey, aged 35, was the unfortunate victim. He was a married man with three children and had come over from Ireland eight months previously looking for work. In February 1992 Horsham-based Roffix agreed in the High Court to pay Comiskey’s family £165,000 in damages.

Rent Rise

In November 1996 a building in the crescent (now divided into eight flats) was sold by Brunswick Development Group to Artesian Competition Ltd. In September 1997 only two flats were occupied as the others were being refurbished. But the tenants were horrified to learn their rents would be increased by 437 %. In other words, a one-bedroom flat that used to cost £476-66p per month, would now cost £2,983 a month.


copyright © J.Middleton
The Victorians made a clever use of space. Although Adelaide Crescent could be described as dense housing, its ambience seems spacious because of the central gardens.

The gardens adjacent to Adelaide Crescent covering some 2 ¼ acres used to be reserved for the exclusive use of the residents who paid a special enclosure rate for the privilege. But during the Second World War there was a great enthusiasm for the collection of scrap metal to aid the war effort and the railings around the gardens were sacrificed for this purpose. Whether or not the metal was of any use for the construction of machines or weapons is a moot point. But of course the gardens lost their privacy. Under the Hove Corporation Act of 1947 the Council took over the private gardens belonging to squares and crescents as a well as the seafront lawns.

copyright © J.Middleton
In this view photographed on 14 July 2014 from the gardens, Adelaide Crescent can be seen curving towards Palmeira Square.

House Notes

Number 1

In 1833 Isaac Lyon Goldsmid agreed to lease the ‘house situate, lying and being on the cliff at Hove’ to Nicholas Eardley Hall. But this was not the first transaction concerning the property because Hall had purchased the residue of the 97-year lease from George Over for £1,950. Hall was a banker and a wine merchant who married into the Borrer family of Portslade.

In September 1833 Hall rented the house to the Hon. Fulke Greville of Castle Hall, Pembroke for fourteen years at £220 per annum. Isaac Newton Wigney took up residence in 1841. But he did not enjoy the sea views for long because in 1842 he was forced to relinquish the property when the family bank failed and he was declared bankrupt. The local newspaper noted with satisfaction a Latin motto that Greville had installed Vix ea nostra voco (I scarcely call these things our own). It is ironic that both Hall and Wigney were bankers.

In August 1849 Hall rented the house to Dame Eliza Twysden for £220 per annum.

In 1858 John Barnett, brewer, purchased the house for £2,330 but the Goldsmid Estate was still collecting ground rent in 1907.

In 1871 Birmingham-born Frederick Elkington, 44, a Justice of the Peace and a manufacturer by trade, occupied the house. The household also included his wife, three sons, four daughters, two governesses, a visitor, six female servants and one male servant.

In 1881 yet another banker was in residence, this one being Joseph John Brown, who according to the census, did not know the name of his birthplace. He and his wife kept a more modest establishment than Mr Elkington, managing with just four female servants. His sister-in-law also lived with them.

By 1891 the house had been divided into separate establishments, one headed by Mrs Edward Walker and the other by Mr S. Copestake.

Number 2

In 1871 Leo Schuster occupied the house but unfortunately on census night his family was away and so we do not know the size of his family. He left two servants behind to look after things.

In 1881 Joaquin de Laski lived in the house. He was a widower, aged 48, and he lived with his daughter, five female servants and one male servant. His birthplace was Rio de Janeiro and he was wealthy enough not to need a profession. On 28 September 1881 after the first service had been held at the newly constructed Catholic church of the Sacred Heart, Norton Road, Hove, a luncheon was laid on at the house and ‘about 100 sat down to an elegant repast in Mr Booth’s best style.’ Madame de Laski was the gracious hostess.

Number 3

In the 1840s Mr and Mrs Bates lived in the house. Their daughter married Monsieur Van de Weyer, first Belgian Minister to the Court of St James.

In 1871 Lady Lydia Grant, 80-year old London-born widow, resided in the house in some style. She shared a roof with her two widowed sisters, three nieces and one nephew, seven female servants and one male servant.

In 1881 the family were away on census night, leaving a female caretaker in charge. But the usual occupants were Sir John C. Lawrence MP, Alderman W. Lawrence MP and Miss Lawrence. Ten years later the Lawrences were still living there. Alderman Lawrence’s son, Sir James Lawrence (1820-1897) died in the Adelaide Crescent house. He had been elected Lord Mayor of London in 1868.

By coincidence another Lord Mayor of London lived in this house too. He was Sir Harold Walter Seymour Howard (1886-1967) and he was elected Lord Mayor in 1954. By this time the property was divided into flats and he occupied number 2 with his wife Maud and two sons.

Lady Harmsworth lived in the house for a few years in the 1920s.

A charming statue known as the Dancing Girl (a fine copy of Canova’s work) stood outside the house from 1966 to 1995. Mr Anthony Rhea purchased it from Hove Council while she was still blackened with smoke from the fire that destroyed most of Hove Town Hall. In February 1995 thieves endeavoured to steal the statue but unfortunately broke it into pieces.

In 1960 Mr Anthony A. W. Rea acquired number 3 with vacant possession via a company appropriately named Adelaide Investments (Hove) Ltd. In the late 1990s the property changed ownership again because by that time Mr Rea had died and the new owner acquired the whole capital of Adelaide Investments from the estate of the late Mr Rea and other parties.

Number 4

Baron de Moncorvo, the Portuguese Minister, stayed at the house for a short time.

In 1871 John E.K. Morley lived in the house with his wife and two nephews. He was born in Hastings and followed a career as an Army officer. Incidentally, he was unique in being a Sussex-born resident of the crescent because the census reveals that early all the heads of households came from outside Sussex. Morley’s household included five servants, three females and two males. He was still in residence ten years later. But by 1891 the Revd Alexander Hugh Hore was the occupant. He was the author of two weighty volumes of church history, The Church in England from William III to Victoria (1886) and Eighteen Centuries of the Orthodox Greek Church (1899).

Number 5

This house is singularly lacking in interesting associations. Although Lady Nevill lived there, she was away in 1871 and nobody was at home on census night ten years later. In 1891 the house did not even appear in the Directory.

Number 6

In 1871 Eliza Fullerton, a 32-year old spinster, lived in the house together with her sister and four servants, three females and one male. Eliza was born in Florence.

From around 1879 William Richard Sutton stayed in the house although he still kept his London base as well. He had enjoyed a lucrative business career and by the time he died on Mafeking Night 1900, his fortune was estimated to be around £2 million. In his will he left £1.5 million to found an organisation later known as the Sutton Housing Trust, which built homes for people on low incomes. The Trust in still in existence and in 1999 was proud to state they had provided 15,000 good quality and affordable housing throughout England. A local example is Warrior Close, Portslade.

Number 7

In 1871 John G. Ogilvie aged 67 lived in the house with his wife and four servants, three females and one male. He was born in India and had been a Captain in the 53rd Regiment. He had died by 1881 but his widow, 70-year old Louisa Ogilvie, continued to live in the house. She was born in London. She enjoyed a comfortable existence from her shares and although she had no family members living with her, she kept three servants.

In 1891 Edward Pape was the occupant.

Number 8

In 1871 the Revd F.H. Pare, aged 50, lived in the house. He was an Exeter-born clergyman but by the time he came to live at Hove he had relinquished the cure of souls. He lived with his wife and their daughter, who was the wife of a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. The household also included six servants, four females and two males.

In 1881, Mary Fletcher, an 80-year old widow, lived in the house. On census night there was also a visitor plus four female servants. Mrs Fletcher was born in Dover, and she possessed funds of her own to live on.

In 1891 a Mrs Lutter was the occupant.

George Aitchison later lived in the house and he told Jack Dove, Hove’s Librarian, about a tradition that some of Queen Alexandra’s ladies had stayed there. Aitchison joined the Brighton & Hove Herald in 1894 and he was connected with the editorial side for 47 years. He was associate editor for many years and became a director in 1933 and editor in 1934. He retired in 1940. He wrote on music, the theatre and arts generally and he produced a popular and charming book entitled Unknown Brighton illustrated with atmospheric aquatints by Stella Langdale; it was published in 1926. Aitchison died in 1954.

Doctor Sheila Patterson (1918-1998) lived in flat 3 at this address with her husband Tadeusz Horko whom she married in 1955, and they remained for nine years at least, and perhaps for longer. They also enjoyed spending time in Spain. By this time she was working for the Institute of Race Relations and in 1959 she published Dark Strangers, an important work. Sheila hailed from Kent and was highly educated, having attended Roedean, Oxford University and the LSE, then working as a civil servant at Polish House in London during the Second World War. It is somewhat confusing because she had a habit of changing her surname. She started off as Miss Caffyn, had a brief marriage to Captain Gadomski, another brief marriage to Captain Patterson, then finally to Mr Horko. Her area of expertise was wide-ranging. She studied the black people in South Africa, Polish people living in Canada, then undertook research in St Vincent and Barbados , and she was awarded a PhD for her Immigrants in Industry published in 1968. (Wojtczak, H. Notable Sussex Women [2008])

copyright © J.Middleton
Number 8 Adelaide Crescent is the house behind the lamp-post while number 9 next door has a flight of steps to the entrance. Author George Aitchison lived in number 8 and said Queen Alexandra’s ladies once stayed there. In 1851 Henri Janson ran a small school at number 9. 

Number 9

Henri Janson, aged 49, lived here with his family in 1851 and he also ran a small private school in the house with eleven pupils on the premises on census night. The school was just one of many small private schools that were widespread in Hove during the 19thcentury, established because of the bracing air and salubrious surroundings. Many of them catered for the sons of British families serving abroad in the colonies, particularly India. But many were of short duration too. For instance, there was no sign of the school in 1871.

Instead Joanna Cockerell, a 70-year old widow, occupied the premises with her unmarried son and daughter plus five female servants. She was born in Cape Town and by 1871 she was described as a fund-holder, which meant she had a comfortable income of her own.

Ten years later, there was another widow in residence. She was Louisa St Quintin aged 69, who despite her exotic name was born in Clapham. Her two unmarried daughters lived in the house with her and there was a grand-daughter and fiver servants, four females and one male.

In 1891 Alfred Gutterez Henriques lived in the house, having arrived at Hove in 1881. In 1882 he was elected to the Hove Commissioners, representing Adelaide Ward, and by 1888 he was on the Legal and Parliamentary Committee and the Recreation Ground Committee. Henriques was a barrister-at-law and a Justice of the Peace. He also undertook some useful work with East Sussex County Council from 1889 to 1898, taking a leading part in securing the adoption of the Wild Birds Protection Act and another Act that sought to prevent pollution of rivers. Henriques was a pioneer in the development of Hove Library and in 1908 he presented it with his own library comprising 2,799 volumes with bookcases as well. He died on 5 August 1908 and was buried in the Jewish Cemetery off Ditchling Road, Brighton.

Number 10

London-born Henry Paul, aged 48, lived in the house in 1871. Although he was a barrister, by 1871 he had either accumulated enough funds or inherited sufficient wealth because it was recorded he was not following his profession. He lived with his wife, one son, four daughters and seven servants, five females and two males. The household also included his 84-year old father, a retired merchant.

In 1881 Revd Henry Revell Roberts occupied the house. But he was away on census night leaving his 25-year old daughter Katherine in charge of her two sisters, two brothers, a governess and three female servants.

Number 11

copyright © J.Middleton
Number 11 Adelaide Crescent has some notable names attached to it; Henry Brownlow, retired Bengal Civil Servant, Lady Katherine Balders, Louisa Martindale (eminent gynaecologist and surgeon) and athlete Steve Ovett. The entrance is by the lamp-post. 

In 1871 the occupants of this house provide one of Hove’s many links with the Raj. Henry Brownlow, aged 63, was a retired Bengal civil servant while one son living in the house was a Lieutenant in the Bengal Army. Also at this address were another son, five daughters but only three servants, two females and one male.

It is interesting to note that in 1972 when there was a public notice about the impending loss of some of the north part of St Andrew’s Old Church Graveyard at Hove due to a new school being built, only one family came forward to claim their relatives who were re-interred in Hove Cemetery. The Lurgan family vault contained five coffins with ‘room for three more’ according to the church burial book. They belonged to Charles Brownlow, 2nd Baron Brownlow (1831-1882); Emily Anne Lurgan, widow of the above who died in 1923; Roderick Cecil Brownlow, a five-week old baby who died in 1914; the Honourable Mary Emily Jane Brownlow (1854-1917) and Lieutenant Colonel John Roderick Brownlow (1865-1932). The transfer cost in the region of £1,500 and was performed with the utmost discretion; even so one parishioner happened to notice and remarked to the verger about the ‘large funeral you have going on here.’

In 1881 Lady Katherine Balders was the habitual occupant but she was away on census night. In 1854 Lady Katherine received news that her brother had been killed in the Crimean War while her nephew was wounded.

Dr Louisa Martindale (1872-1966) lived in the house for a short time in the early 1920s. She led an itinerant lifestyle in childhood because after her father died, she, her sister Hilda and their mother lived in Cornwall, Germany and Switzerland. The family settled in the Brighton and Hove area in order that the girls could attend Brighton & Hove High School. Dr Martindale then left the area to gain her medical qualifications and returned in 1906. She became an eminent gynaecologist and surgeon and founded the New Sussex Hospital for Women. She raised a few male eyebrows by becoming an expert on venereal diseases and prostitution and published her findings.

The Sussex Daily News (9 January 1923) carried a review of Dr Martindale’s new book entitled The Woman Doctor and her Future, price 7/6d. The newspaper thought the book was very well timed because the ‘battle for recognition has been fought and won … and women physicians and surgeons are now part of the accepted order of things. ‘ It added that Dr Martindale’s ‘distinguished work as a surgeon is well known to Brighton and Hove people; and she reveals in her preface that she has seen much of the work of women doctors in India, Australia, New Zealand and Canada as well as several European countries, and has had the advantage of studying in Vienna, Berlin, Freiburg and Paris and has met all the modern medical pioneers.’ It is amusing to note Mills & Boon were her publishers, not the sort of serious work nowadays associated with their output.

In the 1980s athlete Steve Ovett lived in flat 2. He was a local boy made good. He was educated at Varndean Grammar School and was a member of Brighton & Hove Athletic Club. He went on to become one of the greatest middle distance runners and in 1980 at the Moscow Olympics he won a gold medal in the 800m. In 1981 he fell out with his family because they disapproved of his marriage to Rachel Waller. In 1984 Ovett’s sister married boxer Billy Warner at Hove but Steve did not attend. In 1988 Ovett and his wife moved to Annan in Scotland. There was a bronze statue of Ovett in his running days that was set up in Preston Park. Unfortunately, metal thieves removed it, leaving behind just the shoes on the plinth.
Number 12

In 1871 London-born merchant Stephen Hankey, aged 61, lived in the house together with his wife and four servants, three females and one male.

Ten years later another Londoner occupied the premises. She was 58-year old widow Emma Rasch and she lived with her daughter and five servants. There was also a visitor on census night. Mrs Rasch was still in residence in 1891.

In the early 1920s Lady Florence Amelia Lacon lived in the house. She was the second wife of Sir Edmund Knowles Lacon (1842-1899) and the marriage took place in 1878. Sir Edmund’s family seat was in Norfolk and he was also a Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff of that county. He was Lieutenant Colonel of the 4th Battalion / Norfolk Regiment. Lady Lacon died on 21 November 1921.

There was a fire at 12A Adelaide Crescent on 21 September 1923. The call was received at 11. 15 p.m. and the First Aid Motor Pump turned out with four men, the Pump following with eight men. Chief Fire Officer Owen Dumbrell from Hove was on the scene and supervised 20 men from Hove Fire Brigade. Two lines of hose were run up, one from Adelaide Crescent and the other from Holland Road and a good supply of water was obtained. The fire was difficult to tackle because the roof had been boarded, felted, battened and then slated. It was necessary to tackle the blaze inside the roof space.

Just then Brighton Fire Brigade arrived although Mr Dumbrell had not sent for assistance. But as the flames were now shooting from the roof, he graciously allowed the Brighton men to help out for a while. Then it was decided the Hove men could manage it themselves. It seems a member of the public had alerted Brighton Fire Brigade. Misleading reports appeared in the Press and feathers were ruffled at Hove when the story appeared that the Brighton turntable appliance had saved the building from destruction. Mr Dumbrell labelled these accounts ‘incorrect and misleading’ in his personal report to Hove Council.

Number 13

Although the 1871 census recorded the house as being unoccupied, the Directory has a Mr T.A. Ansthruther as living there.

A London-born lady lived in the house in 1881. She was not a widow, quite a rarity in the crescent, but a 73-year old spinster called Caroline Preisig. Her father was Swiss. Although no family members were living with her on census night, she felt she needed four servants to attend to her needs, three females and one male.

Number 14

This house provides a reminder of the popularity of Hove with the Jewish community (see also numbers 9, 15, 27, 37 and 38 Adelaide Crescent). The Cohen family occupied number 14 for many years. In 1871 Sarah Cohen, aged 60, London-born widow, lived there with her two daughters, her brother and sister and nine servants, seven females and two males. In 1881 the family were away on census night leaving the steward in charge and in 1891 Miss L. Cohen and Miss Samuels lived there. In October 1892 Miss Cohen donated an oil painting to hang in Hove Town Hall. It was a large landscape measuring 8 feet by 6 feet by Rosa di Tivoli. It should not be thought that the artist was a Victorian lady. Indeed the artist was of the opposite sex whose real name was Philipp Peter Roos (1655-1706) and German by birth. But he and his family did live in a villa at Tivoli.

Lady Holker occupied the house in 1913.

copyright © J.Middleton
Numbers 14 and 15 Adelaide Crescent were once occupied by prominent members of the Jewish community; the Cohen family at number 14 and the Misses Goldsmids at number 15

Number 15

In 1861 the house was unoccupied but then the Misses Goldsmid took up residence although in 1871 they let the property to the Macdonald sisters. Ten years later one Miss Goldsmid was living there although she was away on census night, leaving the housekeeper and one servant to look after things. It is probable the Goldsmids were daughters of Sir Julian Goldsmid (1838-1896) who lived nearby in Palmeira Square. Sir Julian and his wife had eight daughters. No doubt they were hoping for a son and heir because Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid (1778-1859) had entailed the Goldsmid Estate to male descendants of his daughters, should the direct male line die out.

In 1891 Colonel Robert Charles Goff (1837-1922) lived in the house. He was a man of many parts because although he followed a military career, he later became a famous and talented artist. He started off in the 50th Queen’s Own, taking part in the Crimean War at a young age. Then he was posted to Ceylon with his regiment. After passing through Staff College he joined the 15th Foot and served in Malta and Portsmouth before exchanging into the Coldstream Guards of which he became Colonel in 1878. He retired later the same year to devote his life to art. He had a villa in Florence, a house in London and had lived in Switzerland but he was later mostly based at Hove. He was twice married but his only son died young.

When Goff died The Times stated ‘no artist without professional training has turned out so much excellent work… The note of his life was incessant energy and productive enthusiasm and he was a great gentleman.’ An exhibition of Goff’s work was held in 1923 at Brighton Art Gallery and Brighton & Hove Herald (26 May 1923) was beside itself with admiration. His work had ‘a charm and a sweetness all their own. The fine line of the etching was peculiarly suited to his delicate sense of the values of a picture. In his pencil drawings and etchings … he shows exquisite feeling for fine things. He has certainty of touch … He has delightful distance. Each of his pictures is like a little poem, conceived with the true artist vision and executed with flawless refinement.’

 Number 16

There was nobody living in this house on census night 1861 but by 1871 London-born Mary Hardcastle, a widow aged 64, was in residence. She lived with her three daughters and one son, a governess and six servants, five females and one male.

According to the 1881 Directory this property was let as a furnished house and the census of that year recorded Edward R. Meade as the resident. He lived with his two unmarried daughters and six servants, four females and two males. Mr Meade was born in Ireland.

By 1891 the house was the residence of Lady Georgina Baillie.

A most interesting survival from this house is the Servants’ Wages Book 1864-1929, which today is safely stored in the local Record Office known as The Keep. From this volume the following information is recorded. .
1864 – Cook, 24 guineas a year
1864 – Parlour Maid, £12 a year
1864 – Nursery Maid, £9 a year
1867 – Upper Housemaid, £15 a year
1868 – Cook, £20 a year
1869 – Cook, £25 a year
1870 – Kitchen Maid, £9 a year
1926 – Housekeeper, £42 a year
1926 – Parlour Maid, £38 a year
1927 – Between Maid - £17 a year

Number 17

The 1871 Directory recorded that this was a furnished house and the census of that year identified William Henry Cooper as the occupant. He was a Justice of the Peace and a landowner. He lived with his wife, three daughters and his mother. On census night the household also contained nine servants, six females and three males plus two visitors.

In 1881 another landowner was in residence. He was London-born John Trenchard, aged 38, and he owned 1,500 acres. He lived with his wife, three sons and three servants.

By 1891 Henry Weaver was the occupant.

Number 18

In 1861 there was nobody living in this house. But by 1871 it was let as a furnished house and Henrietta Chester, a 37-year old window lived there. The household also contained her four sons, one daughter and eight servants, six females and two males. Mrs Chester was born in Italy.

In 1881 the house was the residence of Alexander Crichton, a 69-year old retired barrister. He was born in St Petersberg and perhaps he was the son of Edinburgh-born  Sir Alexander Crichton who moved to Russia in 1803 and from 1804 to 1819 was personal physician to Tsar Alexander I (1777-1825). The Hove Alexander Crichton’s wife was also Russian-born and they lived in the crescent with their two sons, one daughter, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, a Swiss-born governess and four servants, three females and one male. It is interesting to note there was another family with Russian connections living next door at number 19.

Number 19

In 1861 this was the only occupied house in the crescent that did not have live-in servants on census night.

In 1871 John Mears lived there with his son and daughter and six servants, four females and two males. Mr Mears was born in Dorking and described himself as a country gentleman.

In 1881 the house was let to another family with Russian connections (see also number 18). Merchant’s wife Elizabeth Thornton, aged 40, lived in the house with her four sons and one daughter and all of them were born in Russia. Also under their roof on census night were five female servants and a visitor.

Number 20

This house was another residence in the crescent let as a furnished house. In 1871 Viscount de Stern, aged 61, was the occupant. He was a German-born merchant who by that time was a naturalised British subject. It seems probable that he was related to the Stern family, one of the richest Anglo-Jewish bankers although not so well known to the general public. It is interesting to note that Sir Herbert Stern, merchant banker, married Julia, niece of Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid who was a notable figure in Hove’s history. Viscount de Stern lived in the house with his two sons, two daughters, five female servants including a Dieppe-born nurse and two male servants.

In 1891 the house was home to Captain and Mrs S. Hobson.

Number 21

In 1871 London-born Benjamin Cooke, aged 65, lived in the house with his wife, two daughters and five servants, four females and one male.

In July 1873 Sir Francis Henry Goldsmid leased the house to Frederick West, cabinet maker, of 56 West Street, Brighton, for ten years at an annual rent of £230. Mr West had to agree to ‘paint with three coats of oil paint and colour such parts of the exterior as were then painted and coloured in the year 1873 and thereafter every successive third year to be computed from 25 March 1873.’ This was necessary in order to ‘produce uniformity of appearance’. Sir Francis or his agent would specify the colour to be used, putting it in writing and leaving it at the premises one month before the work was due to be done. The agent was also to be allowed to inspect the internal state of repair twice yearly.

Sir Francis Henry Goldsmid (1808-1878) was the second son of Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid and he was the most outstanding of Sir Isaac’s twelve children. Sir Julian was a foremost figure in the fight for Jewish emancipation and in 1830 made a powerful appeal to the general public in his Remarks on the Civil Disabilities of the Jews. His campaign was supported the Marquis of Lansdowne, Lord Holland and Lord Lyndhurst whose names have been immortalised at Hove by roads named after them laid out on Goldsmid land.

By 1881 the Hon and Revd Frederick Phipps was in residence. Revd Augustus Frederick Phipps (1809-1896) had the honour of being a chaplain in ordinary to Queen Victoria. He was the fourth son of Henry, 3rd Baronet Mulgrave (later 1st Earl of Mulgrave).

In 1891 W.J. Richmond Cotton, a London Alderman, lived in the house.

Numbers 20/21

The famous novelist Denise Robins (1897-1985) once lived in flat 6 at this address in the 1920s. Denise Robins was the daughter of Herbert Klein who was born in Norwich and was one of eight brothers. His father had emigrated from from the Baltic to England. Denise’s mother was Australian, but their marriage was very unhappy and when Denise was four years old her mother eloped with 2nd Lieutenant H. A. B. Dealty – he was later killed in the First World War. Denise’s mother then married Sydney Groom. Denise had an unhappy childhood, being raised first by her father, then by her mother, and was understood by neither.

During the First World War Denise was a Red Cross nurse, and worked at an Officers’ Hospital in Percival Terrace, Brighton. There she fell in love with one of the patients, Lieutenant Arthur Howis Robins of the 2nd Essex Regiment, and the couple married on 15 June 1918. Their first daughter Eve was born in 1919, and their second daughter Patricia Louise was born in 1921. In 1924 Denise Robins published her first novel Sealed Lips. During the General Strike of 1926 Denise volunteered to work at Hove Town Hall where an emergency centre had been set up. The radio news came in over earphones, and because she was so fast on the type-writer she was able to record the messages as they came in. She also used her car to give workers a lift to work, there being no public transport. In 1927 Denise gave birth to her third daughter Anne. But the family felt a little cramped in a flat, and in around 1929 moved to Haywards Heath. But Denise’s connection with Hove was by no means severed because her Mother lived at Wick Hall, and her brother, Major A. Cornwall-Clyne lived at Courtenay House. Denise treasured a painting he did of some roses, and she hung it in her home.

One of Denise’s great friends was was Roland Pertwee, father of Michael Pertwee and Jon Pertwee. Roland wrote a play called Heatwave from a story by Denise, which ran for three months at St James’s Theatre, London. In 1935 they collaborated on a second play Further Outlook. Another old friend was celebrity vet Buster Lloyd-Jones who also lived in Hove. In later years Denise suffered from arthritis and was obliged to wear a plaster corset around her neck to ease the pain. In 1968 a famous Brazilian healer cured her arthritis, and at the same session worked on her friend Buster so that he was able to stand up for the first time in years, having suffered from polio as a child.

Denise Robins founded the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and was the president for many years. She wrote almost 200 books and was popularly known as the Queen of Romance.

Denise’s second daughter also became a prolific writer and was born at Hove on 1 February 1921. She and her sisters were educated at the PNEU in Burgess Hill, and in Switzerland and Germany. She also received every encouragement from her mother to pursue a writing career. It is perhaps confusing to note that her works were written under the names of Patricia Robins, Susan Patrick as well as Claire Lorrimer, according to the genre of the book, but her autobiography You Never Know was published in 2007 under the name of Claire Lorrimer. It is interesting to note that her knowledge of the German language came in most useful during the Second World War when she served as a Women’s Auxiliary Air Force Officer, and the full extent of her endeavours did not emerge until 2013 because of course she had signed the Official Secrets Act. She was in the RAF Filter Room, tracking enemy bombers on the newly-minted Radar system. In 1947 she married Donald Clark, an RAF pilot, and the couple had three sons. The family home was at Ashurstwood, but by 1990 they lived just across the Sussex border in Edenbridge in a converted Tudor barn. She had eight grand-children, and died in 2016.

Number 22

In 1861 Viscount Ashbrook lived in the house. He was Henry Jeffrey Flower, 6th Viscount Ashbrook (1829-1882). The title came from the Irish Peerage but there was a family seat at Arley Hall, Cheshire.

In 1881 Anna Sothey was in residence. She was a London-born widow aged 77 who lived there with the help of six servants, four females and two males.

Number 23

In 1871 there were two households in the building. There was Louisa Baillie, a 61-year old London-born widow, who was described as a gentlewoman and had eight servants to see to her needs, six females and two males. It is interesting to speculate if she had any connection with the good ship Louisa Baillie, a migrant vessel sailing from England to Australia in 1849 and 1850.

Southwark-born Revd James Spurrell headed the other household. He was aged 53, a clergyman without cure of souls, and he lived with his wife, and five servants, four females and one male. (That makes a grand total of thirteen servants in one house). Revd. J. Spurrell was still in residence in 1881 and 1891.

It seems an odd choice that Revd James Spurrell (1815-1896) should live in Hove because he was a clergyman of the old school, while nearby St Paul’s Church, West Street, Brighton, was a hotbed of the Anglo-Catholic Movement. Spurrell was an upholder of the strongly Protestant wing of the Church of England and believed there should be no change from the rather austere, colourless services he had been used to. Whereas, at St Paul’s there was a choir decked out in surplices, the priest wore different coloured vestments according to the seasons of the liturgical year, there was incense and candles galore. The local newspapers referred to the Sunday Morning Opera at St Paul’s.

This incendiary change in church practices started out in a humble way based on a legal fear that the Church of England might cease to be the established church. This led to English theologians taking pains to set out the facts that the Church of England was a legitimate church. Although, it had been established in 1559 in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it traced its origins back to the Apostolic Succession. This branched out into an examination of the practices of the early church and a desire to return to its roots. These ideas were printed in Tracts for the Times published between 1833 and 1841; it became known as the Oxford Movement.

It was the second generation that took the ideas much further forward. There was a classic example at Brighton of the different views between the generations. Revd Henry Michell Wagner (1792-1870) who built St Paul’s and other Brighton churches held the Protestant line. His son Revd Arthur Douglas Wagner (1824-1902) who became the incumbent at St Paul’s was an advocate of the ‘bells and smells’ school. His father was simply appalled by the way things were going.

Revd A.D. Douglas met many of the leaders of the Oxford Movement while he was studying at Trinity College, Oxford. He became friends with Edward Pusey (1800-1882) and remained in touch with Henry Newman even after he became a Roman Catholic; in fact Wagner travelled to Rome to see Newman made a cardinal.

One of the practices that Revd J. Spurrell deplored was the establishment of religious communities. In fact, he felt obliged to put pen to paper and published a pamphlet in 1852. It was entitled Miss Sellon and the Sisters of Mercy: an Exposure of the Constitution, Rules, Religious Views and Practical Working of their Society obtained through a Sister who has Recently Seceded. It would be interesting to know if his sermons were as wordy as the title of his pamphlet.

In a delicious irony, Revd A.D. Wagner established a religious order at Brighton in 1855; it was called the Community of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Revd J. Spurrell had a remarkable wife. Helen Spurrell (1819-1891) was an intelligent woman who had studied at Balliol College, Oxford; she was also a talented musician. After her 50thbirthday she decided to teach herself Hebrew and became so proficient that she translated and published the entire Old Testament from Hebrew to English.

copyright © J.Middleton
These two houses are numbers 24 and 23 Adelaide Crescent. The fascinating Lady Margeurite Abinger lived at number 24 and to say she had led an interesting life is an understatement. The Revd James Spurrell lived at number 23 with his scholarly wife. He was a passionate opponent of the Oxford Movement. 
Number 24

In 1881 Conrad Jorgenson, a 48-year old Danish-born merchant, lived in the house with his wife, five daughters, three sons, a governess and seven female servants. He was still there in 1891.

In the 1920s Earl Sondes was the occupant. His family seat was Lees Court, near Faversham, Kent. In the early part of the 20th century the estate covered 85,000 acres.

Lady Marguerite Abinger from 1927 to 1954 the remarkable Lady Marguerite Abinger was in residence. She was born in April 1869. In 1890 she married Alphonse Steinheil, a French portrait painter, who, it was claimed, was devoid of talent, despite being the nephew of the celebrated painter Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, famous for his paintings of Napoleon. But Steinheil was given a plum appointment because Felix Faure, President of the Republic, found Madame Steinheil enchanting. This state of affairs came to an abrupt end on 16 February 1899 when Marguerite was entertaining the president at the Elysée. Servants were alerted to screams coming from the apartment and found them both in a state of undress with the president dead or dying. Marguerite was bundled put of the back door and it was given out that the president had died from a stroke. 

In 1909 Marguerite became the ‘tragic widow’ in a sensational French double-murder case. What happened was that on 31 May 1908, the valet Rémy Couillard discovered Marguerite’s husband and mother, Madame Japy, gagged and strangled while Marguerite was tied up in another room. She claimed three armed, masked men and a woman were responsible for the crime, and they also stole her jewellery plus 7,000 francs. These people were never identified. Marguerite was put on trial, together with her groom. The prosecution uncovered several inconsistencies in her evidence but she was a beautiful woman and made a favourable impression upon the jury; the result was that she was acquitted to applause.

Among the fascinated spectators in the courtroom was the young heir to the Abinger title. Although he was some years younger than the ‘tragic widow’ he fell in love with her. But the couple did not marry until 1917 (perhaps because of family disapproval) by which time he was Lord Abinger. He was Robert Brooke Campbell Scarlett, 6thBaron Abinger (1876-1927). After his death Lady Abinger came to live at Hove.

She presented the handsome Abinger family coach, painted yellow and black and built in 1830, to Brighton Museum. It stood for many years on the first floor near the doors leading to the Reference Library. Raymond Martin from Piddinghoe restored it beautifully. Lady Abinger died in July 1954.

It is interesting to note that there was for many years a mansion on Brighton seafront known as Abinger House, which has been supposed erroneously to have been the property of the Abinger family whose family home was at Abinger Hall, in Abinger, near Dorking. In fact, the house was the property of the Steere family who had owned it since 1828 when it was still known by its original name of West Cliffe House. What happened was that Mrs Sarah Steere kindly left this house to her daughter, the Dowager Lady Abinger, for her to enjoy for the rest of her lifetime, and at her death the property would revert to the Steere family. Her daughter had married Baron Abinger in 1843, but the marriage was tragically short as she became a widow a mere six months later. She moved into the Brighton residence in 1855. It was only in the 1890s that the property became known as Abinger House when the MP for Brighton, Gerald Loder, lived there. When the house was demolished, the hotel and restaurant that replaced it retained the Abinger name. (Information kindly supplied by G. Wales, based on ACC 2409/2/749-752 at The Keep).

1st Baroness Rhondda (1857-1941 – Although the good lady lived in this house for a very short time as a small child, and probably retained no recollections of her time at Hove at all, her brief presence is worth remembering because she came from an interesting family.

Her father, Irish-born George Augustus Haig, was a wine merchant, while her mother, Anne Eliza, was born in Camberwell. The family seemed to have moved around a bit because the first two children of the marriage were born in Marylebone, the next two first saw the light of day in Hampstead, while Sybil (our Baroness) was born in Norfolk Square, Brighton, and two more children were born at Hove.

The 1861 census finds the family ensconced at 24 Adelaide Crescent, as follows:

George Augustus Haig, aged 40

Anne Eliza, wife, aged 38

Janet Augusta, daughter, aged 10

Edith, daughter, aged 8

Alexander, son, aged 5

Sybil, daughter, aged 4

Charlotte, daughter, aged 2

Roddy, son, aged 1

Caroline Haig, niece, aged 24

Perhaps Caroline Haig, as a spinster, helped to look after the children because there was only one live-in servant. It seems the family left Hove later on that same year of 1861.

Sybil therefore had four sisters, and consequently they outnumbered their two brothers, which must have given them some sense of equality because it is remarkable that Sybil, plus her sisters Janet Augusta (married surname Boyd) and Charlotte ‘Lottie’ all became active feminists and supporters of female franchise. In addition, in Sybil’s wider family there were Florence, Eva and Cecilia Haig, also of the same persuasion.

Sybil’s fervour for the cause did not wane upon her marriage to David Alfred Thomas MP. Indeed, when she was pregnant with her only child, a daughter Margaret, her fervent prayer was that she too would continue carry the flame forward. Margaret Haig Thomas (1883-1968) did just that. Although Sybil was against the use of violence in their campaign, Margaret had no qualms about bombing a letter-box. For this deed, she landed in prison where she promptly went on hunger strike.

It is sad to record that Cecilia Haig (1856-1911) never recovered from taking part in a demonstration on 18 November 1910. It is not clear exactly what happened with various sources stating that she was trampled or attacked but she was definitely unwell afterwards, and her sister Florence tended her. When Cecilia died the following year, Sylvia Pankhurst had no hesitation in claiming that the death was due to the events of what came to be known as Black Friday.

‘Lottie’ Haig, Sybil’s sister, who was born at Hove in 1859. was a member of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, formed in 1903 out of desperation because women still could not vote, even after years of campaigning. By 1914 the WSPU could boast of 2,000 members, and Sybil and Margaret were also members.

Number 25

In 1871 Sarah Parkinson, a Marylebone-born widow aged 55, lived in the house. She was the mother of a large family and there were seven daughters to keep her company, all unmarried, including 19-year old twins Ada and Georgina, plus one of her three sons. Mrs Parkinson employed six servants, five females and one male.

In 1881 the Parkinson family were still there but now there were only five daughters, one of them widowed, and a grand-daughter. The 1891 census recorded the Parkinsons still in residence and it is unusual in the crescent to find the same family recorded in three censuses.

By the 1920s the house had been divided into flats. On 7 December 1923 a maid carried a breakfast tray into the bedroom of one of the flats when she discovered the body of 22-year old Mrs Isobel Bailey. Her husband Major Norman Percival Bailey had shot her with his service revolver. The couple had only been married three years and the Major had been a fearless soldier throughout the Great War. But according to his suicide note, he awoke that morning suffering torments from war horrors. After killing his wife, he travelled to London where he shot himself, strategically poised so that his body fell into the Thames; it was not discovered until May 1924.
copyright © National Portrait Gallery, London
Georgette Heyer
by Howard Coster
half-plate film negative, 1939
NPG x20987

Georgette Heyer (1902-1974) – From around 1939 to 1942 the famous writer lived in a flat in this house. The owner’s wife considered her to be the easiest of tenants, and popular with the others; she was impressed with her knowledge, and they became good friends. It was a ‘service flat’ which was wonderfully convenient for a prolific writer because it meant she was relieved of domestic concerns, all meals being provided, and someone else dealt with the ration books. Instead, she tucked herself up by the fire and with her writing pad balanced on her knee penned The Spanish Bride, which she later said was written ‘at full gallop’. Indeed, she published two books in 1940, the other being The Corinthian.Meanwhile, her young son Richard played with the owner’s daughter in the private gardens of Adelaide Crescent. But of course both Georgette Heyer and her husband were mindful of their wartime obligations, and she did stints as a fire-watcher, while he served in the Home Guard, being past the age of conscription.

Georgette Heyer married Ronald Rougier on 18 August 1925, just two days after her birthday. He was two years older than her and they had known each other for five years. She wore a cloche hat and carried a voluminous bouquet. She was tall, being 5-ft 10-in, she had dark eyebrows, lovely grey eyes, and there were gold tints in her curly, brown hair. The coupleshared an exotic ancestry – the original George Heyer being a Russian fur trader, while Ronald was of Huguenot descent. Her mother, Sylvia, was a talented musician playing the cello and the piano. She came to regret having given up her musical career upon marriage, and rather hoped her only daughter might have a future with a wonderful contralto voice, but unfortunately the young girl could hardly differentiate one note of music from another. Although, Sylvia lived until her eighties, and thus was well aware of her daughter’s brilliant success, perhaps there remained a residual musical disappointment in the background. However, her father gave her every encouragement in her writing, and she was very attached to him, in a way similar to Daphne du Maurier’s devotion to her own father. In later life Heyer said that a girl never got over the death of her father. He died tragically from a heart attack after a game of tennis with Ronald Rougier with whom he got on exceptionally well. The sad event took place before they were married.

Her father’s death had severe financial implications because it meant that she became the bread-winner. Her father was somewhat devoid of funds, and his younger son was only fourteen – both boys attended Lancing College. Money was necessary for his education, and his widow needed support. Later on, when Ronald at last achieved his ambition of training for the Bar, and in his early days as a barrister not earning much, it was her money that kept the family afloat. It was because of his need for easy access to London, that the family moved out of the depths of the Sussex countryside to a flat in Adelaide Crescent from where he could walk to Hove Railway Station. They moved to London in 1942 because Ronald found the train journeys under wartime conditions wore him out. They rented chambers in Albany where they stayed for 25 years. Later on, they were both earning good money and Ronald could indulge himself with a new Rolls Royce. But they never purchased a property – they always rented.

Besides the stress of being the bread-winner, Georgette Heyer was continually pursued by the taxman. Probably she was badly advised, but it did not help that wartime paper restrictions meant her popular novels could only have a short print-run, and this caused a dent in her income from royalties. In 1940 she took the step of selling the copyright of three back-titles (including Regency Buck that contained two pages about the Royal Pavilion) to Heinemann for £750. She thought this constituted a capital sum, the taxman classed it as income.

Georgette Heyer’s writing career spanned 50 years, and it is a remarkable achievement that when she died aged 71 there were no less than 51 titles still in print. This was down to her writing skills alone because she was a very private person, and refused to engage in any sort of publicity, avoiding fans like the plague. Perhaps it is partly because of this, and partly due to being so prolific, that she has not been given the recognition she deserves. Her long-time friend Carola Oman, received awards and status, but Heyer never did. Heyer was meticulous in her research, and became an expert on the Regency period. Her historical novel An Infamous Army is an outstanding work. It is about the Battle of Waterloo, and she read every contemporary account beforehand. It was so well thought of that it became recommended reading for cadets at Sandhurst. Finally, it is interesting to note that Heyer greatly admired the writing of Ivy Compton-Burnett, and became friends with the actor Donald Sinden, both of whom had Hove connections. (Jane Aiken Hodge The Private World of Georgette Heyer (1984)

Number 26

In 1871 Lord Headley lived in the house but unfortunately he was away from home on census night, leaving the charwoman and her son in charge.

Nobody was living in this furnished house in 1881 but in 1891 F.W. Lonergan was the resident.

Number 27

In 1871 London-born Charles Skipper, aged 36, lived in the house and he was a wholesale stationer. He lived with his wife, two sons, an eight-month old daughter, five female servants including two nurses, and one male servant.

copyright © D. Sharp
Baron de Worms
In 1873 the Arbuthnots were in residence. When they went to Scotland on holiday that year, the butler placed Mrs Arbuthnot’s jewellery case underneath the seat of the hackney carriage but he forgot to inform the lady’s maid where he had placed it. There the jewellery case remained unnoticed, the carriage being left out in the open as usual. When the case was discovered, driver Gates took it straight to Hove Town Hall where it was opened and found to contain a number of diamond stars, bracelets and other jewellery worth several hundred pounds.

By 1881 George, Baron de Worms, lived in the house and he was still there in 1913. He was the son of Solomon Benedict, 1st Baron de Worms (1801-1882) and his grandmother was a member of the Rothschild family. George’s mother was the eldest daughter of S.M. Samuel and he was born in 1829. In 1860 he married Louise, only daughter of Baron Samuels and they had three children. He was a Justice of the Peace for three counties.

Number 28

In 1861 this house was unoccupied. Ten years later the census recorded Annie Cunliffe as living there. She was a married woman aged 31 and she shared the house with her son and daughter and there was a visitor. There were also seven servants, five females and two males. Mrs Cunliffe hailed from Newcastle and her husband Henry was born in Blackburn, Lancashire. In 1881 the Cunliffes were still living in the property and Mr Cunliffe was noted as being a retired banker aged 53. They still had their retinue of seven servants. There son Heinrich James Saint Benno Cunliffe later moved to 20 Eaton Gardens and lived there from 1889-1930.

Margery Bennett later lived in the house. She came to live at Hove in 1918 and specialized in miniature paintings; she exhibited her work at the Royal Academy. She died in the house on 3 October 1954. 

Number 29

Mrs Mason lived in the house from at least 1871 until around 1891. But she was away on census nights in 1871 and 1881, leaving five servants at home on both occasions.

Number 30

This house had some of the most aristocratic connections in the crescent. In 1861 Lieutenant Colonel William Cavendish (groom-in-waiting to Queen Victoria) and Lady Augusta lived there with fourteen servants, ten females and four males (the highest number in the crescent). Lieutenant Colonel William Henry Frederick Cavendish (1817-1881) married Lady Emily Augusta Lambton, daughter of the 1st Earl of Durham, and there were three children.. 

In 1863 the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Mary Adelaide stayed at the house for a month. It was the second visit of the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Mary Adelaide to Hove because they stayed at number 36 Adelaide Crescent the previous year. On Sundays they attended the church of St John the Baptist, Church Road, Hove, just a short distance from their residence. It was a fashionable and crowded church with the celebrated organist Henry Stephen Gates providing the music. The royal pair enjoyed his playing so much they sent him a warm letter of appreciation.

copyright © J.Middleton
The Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Mary Adelaide stayed at 
30 Adelaide Crescent in 1863 and attended services at the 
church of St John the Baptist in Hove.

On 27 November 1863 the Princess celebrated her 30th birthday and at 10.45 a.m. she was treated to a surprise serenade by the band of the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers. The bandsmen lined up in front of number 30 Adelaide Crescent and played a selection of cheerful airs. Princess Mary Adelaide’s brother arrived to join in a celebratory dinner with his sister and mother. It was most probably a bitter-sweet birthday for the princess because she had arrived at the age of 30 without a husband. Of course with her royal status, her choice of suitor was limited. There were also two great disadvantages; She was not beautiful (indeed she grew so stout that later on the public’s popular name for her was ‘Fat Mary’) and there was hardly any money. Queen Victoria was fond of her cousin, although annoyed at her unpunctuality, and did her best to find a suitable spouse.

In 1866 Princess Mary Adelaide married the Duke of Teck and she became the great-grandmother of our present Queen. Their first child, Victoria Mary, was born in 1867 and grew up to become Queen Mary, wife of George V. (Queen Mary also used to visit Hove, usually to see her friend Major Robert Woodhouse who lived at 9 Wilbury Road). The Duke and Duchess of Teck’s last child was born in 1874 when the Duchess was aged forty-one. The Duchess was a popular figure with the public and was one of the first royals to take a great interest in various charities such as Dr Barnado’s.

copyright © J.Middleton
When Princess Mary Adelaide married, she became the Duchess of Teck 
and was the mother of the future Queen Mary, wife of George V. 
In this photograph Queen Mary displays an astonishingly tiny waist. 

In 1871 the residents of the house were William Henry Fitzroy, 6th Duke of Grafton (1819-1882) and his wife Duchess Anne Louise, aged 37, whom he married in 1858 but they had no children. It is interesting to note that the Duke had been MP for Thetford, Norfolk before succeeding to the dukedom while his father-in-law, Francis Baring, 3rd Baron Ashburton, had also been MP for Thetford. The Hove household also included the Duke’s sister-in-law the Dowager Lady Ashburton. The household included six female servants and five male servants.

At the time of the 1881 census the house was unoccupied but the Revd J. Askew was the usual occupant. By 1891 Mrs Francis Roswell lived there.

copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph of numbers 31 and 30 Adelaide Crescent is somewhat marred by the presence of scaffolding.
 Wealthy Hannah Brackenbury lived at number 31

Number 31

In 1871 Lancashire-born Miss Hannah Brackenbury (1795-1873) lived in the house with her companion Alice King. Although she must have been one of the wealthiest residents of Hove, she kept a modest household consisting of a butler, a cook, and two housemaids.

Thomas Harling, butler, earned £50 a year
Eliza Banfield, cook, earned £16 a year
Mary Lowry, housemaid, earned £14 a year
Anne Ellis, under-housemaid, earned £11 a year

Hannah Brackenbury and her family moved south from Yorkshire to Hove in the hope that her brother James Brackenbury might benefit from the change of air. But he was already in poor health and died in 1844 shortly after their removal. Hannah and her brother Ralph were unmarried but James had been married with one daughter called Harriette. She died in 1861 at the age of 28 and her uncle Ralph died three years later. This turn of events left Hannah the sole survivor and heiress of a fortune so great that she was able to give away at least £100,000 during her lifetime. The Brackenbury fortune rested on an early and judicious investment in railways. Indeed, when Hannah died she still held shares in the Great Northern Railway, the Midland Railway, the London, Dover and Chatham Railway, and the Crystal Palace and South London Junction Railway. It was no hindrance either that James Brackenbury was a solicitor whose firm was eventually known as Brackenbury and Lewis and they were advisers to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company.

The Brackenburys moved around Hove. In the 1840s they lived in Brunswick Square but by 1859 they were at 13 Brunswick Terrace where the 1861 census recorded them. After Ralph’s death, Hannah moved to 30 Brunswick Terrace. It is instructive to note that in 1861 Alice King was the housekeeper. She was also Yorkshire-born and became Hannah’s trusted friend and companion.

It is a mystery as to how Hannah Brackenbury came to have an association with Portslade. But in 1869 the magnificent mortuary chapel known as the Brackenbury Chapel was erected at the north west corner of St Nicolas’s Church. The remains of the four family members were buried here. There could not be a greater contrast between carved oak and stone, stained glass windows, polished marble and decorated floor tiles of the chapel with the absolute plainness of the church’s interior. There is also something of a mystery about the chapel’s plans, which do not seem to have survived; at least they have not been lodged in Sussex Record Offices. The most likely architect was Edmund Evan Scott who designed the Brackenbury Schools, Locks Hill, Portslade (opened in 1872) and the two chapels in Portslade Cemetery. His most famous work was the church of St Bartholomew, Brighton, opened in 1874.

copyright © J.Middleton
Left:- This is the exterior of the beautiful Brackenbury Mortuary Chapel at St Nicolas Church, Portslade.
Centre:- Hannah Brackenbury chose the theme of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus as the central light for the chapel. This was because her brother was a doctor and the Gospel story resonated with her.
Right:- This small window in side the chapel shows the Brackenbury coat of arms and the motto sans recueller jamais (never draw back).
copyright © J.Middleton
Hannah Brackenbury paid for this school to be built at Locks Hill, Portslade for the education of poor children. It has changed its name a few times but today is known as Brackenbury Primary School).
copyright © J.Middleton
Hannah Brackenbury donated £15,000 to 
Balliol College, Oxford, for the 
Brackenbury Buildings
 to be erected designed by eminent architect 
Alfred Waterhouse.

In the 1860s Hannah donated at least £20,000 to Balliol College, Oxford, towards the construction of buildings on the south side of the quadrangle facing Broad Street and designed by Alfred Waterhouse. The plans included a tower over the front gateway known as the Brackenbury Tower. Hannah also endowed some scholarships for students wishing to qualify in law or medicine, the professions of her two brothers. The scholarships exist to this day.

Hannah Brackenbury died 28 February 1873. Her will was monumental in the number of bequests it recorded. Even newspapers that usually liked to itemise such a will in detail, gave up on this one. As the Brighton Gazette wrote ‘the lady was a munificent supporter of many of our national charitable institutions, her benefactions being far too numerous to particularize.’  
The contents of the house were disposed of in a three-day sale and it is fascinating to find out what sort of furnishings there were in the house. On the first day books and ornaments were sold, the second day it was the turn of furniture from top and second floors, the dining room and pictures, china, glass and wine, while the third day was devoted to the drawing rooms, the basement, carriage and stable fittings.


The extensive library consisted of around 2,000 volumes of which a great part was relevant to the interests of her brother Dr Brackenbury. There were quantities of The Lancet and other medical works, including item 35 ‘Angell on Tuberculosis, Winslow on Obscure Diseases of the Brain, and Garrod on Gout’. There were books on mathematics, chemistry, geology and botany; theological works including eight volumes of sermons; atlases, and several English dictionaries including Dr Johnson’s famous work in a large octavo calf edition; there were Latin, Greek, French and Italian dictionaries too. There were classical works as well as books in foreign languages while the history section contained Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Other library staples included Pepys’s Diary, Boswell’s Johnson and a complete set of Scott’s Waverley Novels. There were 137 parts of Cornhill Magazine and eleven parts of Quarterly Review. Among the illustrated works were Nibbs’ Churches of Sussex and perhaps the most valuable book (item 175) 200 original etchings by Claude, Rembrandt and other prominent artists bound in morocco gilt.

China and Glass

China figurines included examples from Chelsea (a pedlar) Bow (flower girl and shepherd) Darby (flower girl).
A gilt Nankin china dejeuner service
A very handsome crimson scale-pattern and gilt dinner service
An elegant green and gold dessert service with centre decorations of flowers and landscapes
A gilt seaweed-pattern tea and coffee service
A sprig-pattern tea service
White and gold breakfast ware
Fourteen engraved port wine glasses


A Louis XIV clock
Mantle clock in an ormolu case decorated with vine leaves and grapes and surmounted by a two-handled vase containing flowers, on a rosewood stand with a glass case
A pair of well-modelled bronze equestrian figures of warriors
Pair of crimson and gold opal vases


9 dozen bottles of claret
2 dozen bottles of champagne
2 dozen bottles of port (1847 vintage)
2 dozen bottles of pale sherry
1 dozen bottles of sparkling Moselle

Bedroom Furniture

In the back bedroom on the second floor there was ‘a noble 6-feet walnut Arabian bedstead with boldly carved and panelled footboard, arched moulded cornice, curtain rods and rings, green damask furniture with silk borders, shaped bullion fringe valance, silk hangers and cord’.
The same bedroom contained a walnut wardrobe (8 feet wide)
A dressing table of beautifully figured walnut
A walnut washstand
A walnut kidney-shaped writing table

The front bedroom on the second floor contained walnut furniture too but the bed was different. It was ‘a 5 feet 6 inches Arabian bedstead with brass head, foot and tester, and taper tubular pillars, new chintz furniture fringed with pink and muslin head and tester’.
The same bedroom contained three walnut chairs with cane seats

Dining Room

Oak was the wood favoured for the dining room.
Sixteen well-made chairs with seats and backs finished in green morocco (with loose Holland covers)
A ‘very excellent oak dining table’ on a telescope frame that opened up to a length of 16 feet 4 inches by 5 feet by the insertion of six shifting leaves.
A mahogany bagatelle board

Drawing Rooms

Bright steel fender with bronzed masks and mouldings. Twisted steel bar and fire steels to match
A noble 9-feet console table made of pollard oak on a plinth with statuary marble top
A handsome ebonised console cabinet; doors and pilasters inlaid with tortoiseshell and buhl
Two 4-feet book cabinets in a similar style to the above
An elegant 4 feet 6 inches china cabinet of amboyna wood, banded with rosewood and with ormolu moulding and bosses
A shaped walnut centre table
Two settees measuring 8 feet 6 inches
A 7-feet square sofa
Several chairs
(Two large chandeliers and satin damask curtains were not included in the sale because Hannah had itemised them as a personal bequest).


The house had been provided with green Brussels carpet. In the drawing rooms there was a Brussels carpet with a lily pattern on a green ground 
An unlikely piece that stood in the hall was item 387 ‘a 28-inch grained oak refrigerator with internal fittings, equal to new’.


The kitchen included a whole range of equipment including the following:
A turbot kettle
Four other fish kettles
Ten iron saucepans

Butler’s Pantry

Oak napkin press
Kent’s five-hole knife cleaning machine
Four japanned tea trays
Two papier-mâché trays with figure and flowers


A closed double-seated carriage, painted dark green, fitted for a pair of horses and complete with lamps
A barouche, painted chocolate, lined with dark blue and with a morocco-covered seat 

Sale Results

Day one raised £343-6-0d
Day two raised £695-12-1d
Day three raised £653-6-6d
The total came to £1,692-4-7d
The expenses came to £132-6-6d
Final total of £1,559-18-1d

By 1881 Colonel Penton was in residence and Mrs Penton was still there ten years later. Colonel Henry Penton is remembered because he gave his name to an area of London he developed known as Pentonville.

In 1913 Baron and Baroness von Bissing lived in the house. The baron had become a naturalised British citizen in 1906 but that fact did not help him in the Great War. There was a surprisingly large number of Germans living in Britain at the outbreak of war; some put the figure as high as 53,000. As enemy aliens they were given the choice of being expelled or being interned if they wished to remain and around 30,000 took the latter option. (Daily Mail 12 July 2014). Von Bissing was interned on the Isle of Man on 20 September 1915. When his health began to fail, he was moved to more comfortable quarters but this led to questions being asked in the House of Commons. It did not help matters that he was half-brother to the German Governor of Belgium.

copyright © D. Sharp
Baron & Baroness von Bissing

When von Bissing was arrested, it was not as a result of a discreet knock at the door. Instead Brighton police arrested him in full public view near the West Pier. The local newspaper had this to say. 'The baron has resided in Adelaide Crescent, Hove, for several years past and is a member of the leading Brighton clubs. He has taken an active part in motor, yacht, racing, swimming and other phases of sport and pastime', Von Bissing served as Hon. Secretary of The Drive Lawn Tennis Club.

Number 32

In 1871 William Chapman lived in the house but he was away on census night. In 1881 John R. Bliss, baronet and landowner, occupied the house. He was born in Wexford, Ireland. He lived with his wife, five daughters, a son six female servants and two male servants. 

The 1891 census recorded that widow Mrs Eliza Buckle lived in the house. It is an indication of the wealth of Adelaide Crescent residents that her walls were adorned by beautiful, original paintings, even some Old Masters, and these were sold at Christie’s after her death in 1894.
Her wealth emanated from her husband Henry Buckle (1804-1883) who was something of a merchant prince and when he died he left an estate valued in the region of £180,000. There were no children of the marriage and Henry left legacies to his twenty nephews and nieces but his widow was well provided for. Henry certainly did not rush into matrimony, being a mature 39-year old when he married Eliza Isabella Shewell, aged 20, on 8 July 1843 at St George’s, Hanover Square. The marital household included his mother-in-law. The Buckles enjoyed the Brighton area, living variously at properties in Adelaide Crescent, Perceval Terrace and Lewes Crescent.
The Buckles started out on their commercial career as humble wine merchants, importing brandy and port to supply the gentry. Then they began to expand into ship-ownership, exploiting the growing trade between England, Australia and New Zealand. Early exports included a cargo of convicts bound for New South Wales. The Buckles came to own the grand, romantic ships commonly known as East Indiamen. On the voyage home the ship’s hold was full of wool, sealskins, whale oil and whalebones (so essential for corset-making). The Buckles became experts in their knowledge of the type of wool preferred by British manufacturers and informed their contacts in the Antipodes accordingly.
There were also some more exotic items in the return cargoes such as mimosa bark, famous as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, and blue gum wood, which came from a fast-growing hardwood tree. Although the wood could be used as a veneer or in decorative turned objects, it was mostly regarded as utilitarian timber for use as fence posts, fuel or pulp. Later on, when gold was discovered, cargoes included gold and silver.
Henry Buckle was also involved in banking and insurance, joining the board of the London and Westminster Bank in 1836, only a few years after its formation. (This information derives from research carried out by Andrew Doig).

Number 33

In 1871 London-born lead merchant J.B. Peele, aged 61, lived in the house with his wife, three daughters, two sons, a governess and seven servants, five females and two males. But in both 1881 and 1891 on census night this furnished house was unoccupied.

Number 34

In 1871 another London-born widow lived in this house. She was Charlotte Holland, aged 82, and she shared a roof with her two daughters and eight servants, six females and two males.

copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph gives you some idea of the size of number 35 Adelaide Crescent, which occupied a corner site and extends to the porch belonging to number 34. Lily, Duchess of Marlborough lived here.

In 1881 Harry Panmure Gordon, a stockbroker aged 42, lived in the house with his wife and four servants, three females and one male. Also in 1881 he asked Hove Commissioners for permission to fix a small stone block on the kerb facing the entrance to the house ‘for the use of ladies when mounting their horses.’ His request was turned down but he continued to occupy the property and was still there ten years later.
copyright © National Portrait Gallery, London
Harry Panmure Gordon in 1860
The name of Panmure Gordon (1837-1902) will be a familiar one to anyone interested in the business world of the City of London. It is still in use today, despite various takeovers through the years. Harry Panmure Gordon founded his firm in 1876 when it was known as Gordon & Co. and later as H. Panmure Gordon & Co. It was not long before his enterprise became one of the most active in the City. In his official biographical inclusion, it stated he lived in Brighton. But as his address was 34 Adelaide Crescent, it was Hove, actually. He used to commute by train every weekday to London.

He had other residences too where he could indulge his country interests because he was a keen angler, a good shot and a well-known dog breeder who founded and became president of the Scottish Kennel Club. Although he was born in Killiechassie, Perthshire, he was quite unlike the proverbial Scot. In other words, he enjoyed spending his money. There is a marvellous photograph of him taken on 7 November 1860 by Camille Silvy and now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. It is an albumen print and shows him in full Highland rig of kilt and sporran and his handsome face is adorned with a splendid moustache curving downward at either side to join his beard. He has a military air, which is not surprising because he served with the 10th Hussars for four years. Perhaps he has a romantic air too because he was a distant relative of Lord Byron and enjoyed collecting memorabilia concerning the poet.

copyright © J.Middleton
Harry Panmure Gordon, founder of the well-known stock-broking firm,
 lived at number 34 Adelaide Crescent. He travelled to London by train every weekday. 
This photograph was taken on 14 July 2014; note the window cleaner at work while 
remaining safely at ground level.

Number 35

In 1871 London-born William Jones lived in the house with his wife, four daughters, a son, a governess, seven female servants and four male servants. He was a landowner and cotton spinner and employed between 400 and 500 work people. The Jones family were still there ten years later but by 1891 there was just Mrs Jones.

The most famous occupant of the house was Lily, Duchess of Marlborough (1854-1909). She was born plain Eliza Warren Price in Troy, New York but her family called her Lillie (later Lily) from childhood. Her father was Cicero Price who joined the United States Navy at the age of twenty as a midshipman and by 1866 had risen to the rank of commodore. Lily’s mother was Elizabeth Homer Paine and she was 23 years younger than her husband. Lily was the first-born and there were two sisters, Cora and Lucy. Lily became an ornament in New York high society but she did not marry until she 25 years old. She married Louis Carré Hamersley on 5 November 1879 and he was her senior by fourteen years. Even so, she could not have expected her marriage to be of such short duration. Her husband died at the age of 43 on 8 May 1883 of typhoid fever. Lily withdrew from society for over two years, heavily clad in black mourning clothes. But she also had the heartache of a wrangle over the will. This was due to a proviso that should there be no children of the marriage, large amounts of money were to be dispensed to various cousins. Lily was obliged to appear in court and it was not until 1891 that a final settlement was made.

copyright © J.Middleton
This view of 35 Adelaide Crescent was taken from the gardens and you can just glimpse the sea in the distance. 
The house is named Marlborough Court in honour of Lily, Duchess of Marlborough.

Nobody knows where Lily met the Duke of Marlborough. He was George Charles Spencer Churchill, 8thDuke of Marlborough. But he arrived in America in 1887 trailing clouds of scandal. In 1869, when he was still Marquess of Blandford, he had married Lady Albertha Hamilton, daughter of the 1st Duke of Abercorn but she became disillusioned by his behaviour and petitioned for divorce in 1882. He was involved in another prominent divorce case too and had a close friendship with the celebrated Lady Colin Campbell. Therefore it is not surprising that when Lily’s family heard about the romance, they were horrified. They certainly opposed the idea of marriage. But Lily was determined to go ahead and the wedding was a discreet ceremony held on 29 June 1888 in the Mayor’s Office at New York City Hall.

Lily was the first American duchess since 1838. But she was not the only American heiress in the Churchill family because Lord Randolph Churchill (the Duke’s brother) married Jennie Jerome in 1874. Society life was never to be easy for Lily because of Queen Victoria’s aversion to divorce and scandal. However, she made a success of her life at Blenheim Palace and she was popular with her staff and people in the neighbourhood. It was a cruel twist of fate that this marriage lasted only four years. The Duke seemed in perfect health when he retired to bed at Blenheim Palace but died suddenly of heart failure, aged 48, on 9 November 1892.

Lily was executor of her husband’s will and oversaw the sale of some of his effects, including his cherished collection of orchids numbering in the region of 25,000. She had to leave Blenheim Palace.

She went to live on the south coast and acquired 35 Adelaide Crescent. It is the corner property on the west wing and the front of the house enjoyed magnificent views of the sea beyond Hove Lawns.

In 1893 she took a lease on Deepdene, a property with 4,000 acres near Dorking, Surrey. It is pleasant to record that she struck up a friendship with young Winston Churchill who enjoyed staying with his aunt at Deepdene very much. In 1895 when Lord Randolph was ill and dying, Winston and his brother Jack stayed at Deepdene and visited their father. It is probable that Winston also visited his aunt at Hove. After all he was very familiar with the town, having spent four years at school in Brunswick Road, Hove.

Winston also heartily approved of Lily’s third husband whom she married on 30 April 1895. Her new husband was Lord William de la Poer Beresford. He had the distinction of being awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroic actions on 3 July 1879 during the Zulu War. Later he became Colonel of the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers. But despite her marriage she kept the style of Lily, Duchess of Marlborough.

Lily was surprised in 1896 to find she was pregnant at the age of 42; in December of that year Lord William was involved in a bad riding accident. Although he recovered, his riding days were over and his beautiful horses were sold. Their son William de la Poer Beresford was born on 4 February 1897. At least the couple managed to have five years of married life before he died on 28 December 1900 aged 53. Some people thought Lily would marry again. But she did not. She died on 11 January 1909, not at Adelaide Crescent as sometimes claimed, but at Deepdene.

The Hove house passed to Lord Marcus Beresford who was the guardian of Lily’s son. In 1915 Lord Marcus sought planning permission from Hove Council for Maple & Co. to construct an entrance porch. Lily’s son was a rather delicate child and he died at the age of 21 in 1919. Lord Marcus died on 16 December 1922 and it was only then that the Beresford family sold up Lily’s house and her furniture was auctioned.

When this house was divided into flats, it was given the name of Marlborough Court in honour of Lily. Today the name ‘Marlborough Court’ in gold lettering is still to be seen on the fanlight above the front door.

Previous to 1937, flat 2 was let on a full repairing lease of £375 per annum. But in 1944 it was let to Mrs J.H. Lane for £230 a year plus £2-16-8d for enclosure rent that allowed access to the private gardens.

In 1951 the composer Maud Stewart-Baxter lived in this house.  

Number 36

In 1862 the Duchess of Cambridge and her daughter Princess Mary Adelaide stayed at this house for a month. While they were in residence the Grand Duke of Baden and Prince Christian of Denmark came to visit. The prince became King Christian IX of Denmark and his elder daughter was Princess Alexandra who on 10 March 1863 married the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. The Duchess and her daughter enjoyed Hove so much that they returned to Adelaide Crescent the following year too. (see also number 30).

In 1871 Eleanor Legge, a 49-year old widow lived in the house. She was born in Northumberland and was described as a landowner. She lived with five servants, four females and one male.

In 1881 Somerset-born Samuel Bythesa, aged 58, was the occupant. He lived with his wife and there were five servants. He was still there ten years later.

copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph shows the last four houses in Adelaide Crescent. Marlborough House (number 35) is on the right. Next door is number 36 where the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Mary Adelaide stayed in 1862. Numbers 37 and 38 have a single entrance. Flora Sassoon lived at number 37 while at number 38 Mrs Barney Barnato set up a private hospital during the Great War known as Hove Military Hospital. 

Numbers 37 & 38

This property is the last house in Adelaide Crescent, situated in the part facing the sea. It is numbered together and must have been a property of impressive size because today it is divided into sixteen flats.

In 1871 Mr G. Vaughan lived in the house and in 1881 John Timms, aged 48, was the occupant. Timms was born at Woburn and so perhaps his father or mother were part of the staff there. At any rate he earned a living as a bailiff on a farm. He was married and on census night his two daughters were with him plus a visitor.

From 1886 to 1893 Frederick Sassoon and his wife occupied the house.

Mrs Flora Sassoon (1838-1919) – She lived in this house from 1894 to 1913.

Flora Sassoon’s small, neat figure dressed in black, was a familiar sight walking along the promenade carrying an ornate parasol. On one such walk she encountered two small children and when she learnt their father was out of work, she set about securing him a job as a gardener at the newly opened St Ann’s Well Gardens. She was a benefactor to St Ann’s Well Gardens and in 1913 acquired around one acre situated on the west side, which she presented to Hove Corporation. A commemorative plaque recording her gift is to be found on the entrance gate piers to this day. Her other donations were a 20-inch dial clock to go in the Pump House, several items to decorate the Pump House, two rustic summer houses for the croquet lawns, eight rustic chairs, a terracotta statue of the goddess Polyhymnia, a large female ship’s figurehead and 39 large decorated urns.
 copyright © J.Middleton
Mrs Flora Sassoon was a benefactor 
of St Ann’s Well Gardens.

Flora Sassoon was noted for her many acts of kindness. Another instance was the time she noticed an overweight and perspiring policeman on traffic duty on a hot day. She told him the best thing to cool him down was a melon. She stopped at the Police Station to ascertain the number of Hove policeman and the following day six dozen of the best melons were delivered.

In 1908 she gave William Cocks, Chief Constable of Hove, a silver cup inscribed Presented to Chief Constable Cocks (of Hove) by Mrs Flora Sassoon as a mark of recognition for exceptional services rendered during the daily visits of His Majesty King Edward VII to Mr Arthur D. Sassoon at 8 King’s Gardens, Hove, while His Majesty was resident at Brighton.’

In April 1909 she wished to present Hove Police with a collection of armour and pictures on condition the whole collection was to remain in the custody of the police and decorate their headquarters. The projected gift comprised four shields, eight halberds, sixteen swords, three daggers, four gauntlets, four battleaxes, a spiked ball, a breastplate, a blunderbuss, a pistol, 22 large pictures and 53 prints in gilt frames. It would be interesting to know what happened to all her gifts and for that matter what became of her legendary seven-strand pearl necklace she enjoyed wearing at dinner parties.   

Mrs Barney Barnato, whose husband rose from humble beginnings to make a fortune dealing in diamonds in South Africa, lived in the house after his death. She was comfortably off and when the Great War broke out she determined to do her bit by turning the house into Hove Military Hospital, which was able to treat twenty patients at a time. It must have been a perfect place to recuperate for battle-wearied soldiers.

By 1922 numbers 37 and 38 had been converted into flats.

In 1926 Sir George Robertson Turner (1855-1941) moved to Hove and lived in one of the flats. In 1876 he played rugby for the England team in an international match against Scotland. The following year he obtained his medical qualifications and in 1878 he became house surgeon at St George’s. When the Great War broke out he was too long in the tooth for active service but he played his part and became a temporary surgeon Rear Admiral, serving at Chatham and Plymouth and also as consultant to the Admiralty. He was despatched to Malta to supervise the many military and naval personnel who had been wounded in the Gallipoli campaign and taken to the island. He then accompanied a large number of them on the voyage home. In 1919 he was knighted for his services.

The Great War brought sadness to his family when one of his two sons was killed. He and his wife also had three daughters.

Sir George enjoyed driving his car and was a keen motorcyclist; indeed even in his seventies he liked to ride his motorbike to London and back. He wrote several books including Mary Stuart, Forgotten Forgeries. He died at his Hove flat on 7 April 1941 and was given the honour of being buried at Sherborne Abbey, his family having originated from that area.

The Gaekwar of Baroda

From early December 1887 until January 1888 the Gaekwar of Baroda stayed at a house in Adelaide Crescent. It may be that he travelled to these shores to view the intricately carved Baroda Pigeon House that he had despatched in 1886 to grace the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London. Is it a coincidence or not that the artefact should have ended up some forty years later in the grounds of Hove Museum? The Gaekwar had been ruler of his state from the age of twelve, and there is a marvellous photograph of him taken in 1875 dressed in regal splendour including a collar studded with 500 diamonds and wearing the Star of the South, a diamond of 128 carats – even in India the family was famous for its fabulous jewels.

 copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
The beautiful Baroda Pigeon House is on the left and the Jaipur Gateway is in its original position.

While the Gaekwar stayed at Hove, he gave a number of receptions including one held at the Royal Pavilion. On 4 January 1888 he attended a Ball at Hove Town Hall in aid of the building fund for what later came to be called Hove Hospital. He also took the time to visit Mr Hawkins’ photographic establishment in King’s Road, Brighton, to sit for his portrait. He wore his native costume and decorations and of course the Star of the South. The visit was most probably initiated by Queen Victoria because she asked to be sent a selection of the resulting portraits. Later in January the Gaekwar took a special train from Victoria Station to Dover where he stepped aboard a special steamer bound for Calais. He visited Paris, then stayed at Lake Maggiore for a few week before returning to India.

Census Returns
Dale, Antony Fashionable Brighton (1947)
Dale, Antony The Wagners of Brighton (1983)
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Internet searches
Jackson, Stanley The Sassoons (1968)
National Portrait Gallery, London
Sussex Daily News
Svenson, Sally E. Lily, Duchess of Marlborough (1854-1909) (2012)

Copyright © J.Middleton 2015
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