12 January 2016

Brunswick Square's Famous Residents, Hove

Judy Middleton (2001 revised 2022)

2 Brunswick Square
copyright © J.Middleton
2 Brunswick Square
Admiral Sir George Augustus Westphal (1785-1875) 
The Westphal family originated from Germany and their forebears were the ancient Counts of Westphal. But George Augustus Westphal was born in Nova Scotia. He had a useful relative in his great-uncle who was also Preceptor to the Duke of Kent. The Duke became patrons of young Augustus and his brother Philip and thus ensured they had a good start on the career ladder. It is interesting to note both boys climbed to the top of the tree and finished their naval career as admirals.

Augustus was thirteen years old when he joined the Royal Navy. Seven years later when he was a midshipman he sailed aboard the frigate Amphion to the Mediterranean in the company of Lord Nelson. On arrival at their destination, Westphal transferred with his chief to HMS Victory.

It was at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805 that Westphal, was wounded and carried down to the cockpit where the mortally wounded Nelson had also been taken. Both the Dictionary of National Biography and the writer O’Byrne state Westphal was badly wounded. But Clarke and MacArthur’s Life of Nelson (1809) included a list of the wounded extracted from the Victory’s Log and Westphal’s name appears under the heading ‘Slightly Wounded’. It seems probable that Westphal suffered a flesh wound to the head that bled copiously, as head wounds tend to do.

While Westphal was lying in the cockpit awaiting the attention of the surgeon Mr Beatty, Nelson’s coat was thrust under his head to act as a pillow. There has been considerable interest in the precise identity of this garment; was it a boat cloak or Nelson’s undress uniform coat? The story handed down in Westphal’s family was that it was a cloak but the cloak that survives in Greenwich to this day (and incidentally it is a rare example of a boat cloak of that period) is undamaged whereas the garment put under Westphal’s head was cut. The reason being that the bullion fringe of the epaulette became, in Westphal’s own words, ‘so firmly glued, unto my hair, by the coagulated blood from my wound that the bullions, four or five of them, were cut off and left in my hair, one of which I still have in my possession.’ This piece of bullion became a treasured heirloom of the Westphal family and was exhibited at the Chelsea Royal Naval Exhibition in 1891, item 3343. Mrs A. Loftus-Tottenham lent the relic to the exhibition and she lived at 2 Brunswick Square in the same house for so long occupied by the Westphals. 

Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, donated Nelson’s coat from which the bullions had been cut to Greenwich Hospital (later the National Maritime Museum). The coat was also marked by a musket-shot hole in the shoulder. It is claimed that Westphal was able to authenticate the garment as belonging to Nelson.

When Westphal had recovered from his head wound, he spent two years serving aboard the sloop Demerara in the West Indies. His next adventure occurred when he was being invalided home aboard the merchant ship Highlander. This ship had a crew of 35 and it must have seemed a hopeless outlook when a French privateer with a crew of 140 attacked them. Westphal forgot about his illness and at once took command. The resistance of the Highlander’s crew was so spirited that the conflict lasted three hours before the French finally managed to board their ship. Westphal was badly injured and had the indignity of being placed in a hospital ship in Guadeloupe. But he soon managed to escape.

In 1809 Westphal became associated with Commodore Sir George Cockburn who wrote the following in his official report on events in North America.

‘Of Lieutenant George Augustus Westphal whose exemplary and gallant conduct it has been necessary for me to already notice in detailing to you the operations of the day, I shall now only add that from a thorough knowledge of his merits I always, on similar occasions expect much from him, but this day he even outstripped those expectations.’

During his service in America, Westphal commanded a successful boat expedition up the Elk River against French Town in 1813 and not long afterwards a similar expedition against Havre-le-Grace on the Susquehanna River. In the latter engagement he was shot through the hand.

In 1813 he was given command of the large American brig Anaconda, which he had captured and the following year he took part in an expedition against New Orleans.

In 1824 Westphal had a peaceful commission for once when he conveyed Lord Amherst to India aboard the Jupiter to take up the post of Governor General. On his return Westphal was given a knighthood. Sir Robert Peel pointed out waspishly the honour was not for taking Lord Amherst off to India, but for Westphal’s distinguished services.

In 1834 Westphal left active service and took up residence at 2 Brunswick Square, which he occupied for almost 40 years. He was one of the first Brunswick Square Commissioners and he was also a magistrate. He was twice married. His first wife was Alicia, whom he married on 8th January 1847. She was the widow of William Chambers and there were no children from his first marriage. His second wife was also a widow. She was Mary Ann and her late husband was Lieutenant Adenbroke Gore RN. In 1850 she gave birth to Westphal’s only child Mary Augusta while the doting father was 65 years old. But the Royal Navy had not forgotten about him and in 1851 he was promoted to Read Admiral, followed by becoming Vice Admiral in 1857 and finally a full Admiral in 1863.

The 1861 census recorded the Westphal family at home. He was by then aged 76 but was still a magistrate, his wife was 48 years old and their daughter Mary Augusta was eleven years old. The household included her governess, three female servants, one male servant, plus William Pollard, coachman, his wife, their son 15-year-old Edwin who assisted his father in his duties, two other sons and a daughter.

Westphal could never have expected his daughter to predecease him and it was a great tragedy for the family when she died in her 20th year on 20 April 1870. Mary Augusta was married to Stopford De Vere Beauclerk and they all lived at 2 Brunswick Square. It seems she must have died in childbirth because in the next census Westphal’s grandson was noted as living at the house.

copyright © J.Middleton
Westphal Memorial St Andrew's churchyard
The Westphals were a family accustomed to longevity. Augustus survived until his 90th year, which is remarkable considering his long period of active service and his injuries, while his brother Admiral Philip Westphal died at the age of 98. Admiral Sir George Augustus Westphal died on 12 January 1875 and he made it known that he wished for an unostentatious funeral; even so there were four mourning coaches and eleven carriages to follow the hearse. The carriages mostly belonged to residents of the square who wished to pay their respects while the first three coaches contained family members and the fourth was filled with servants. His coffin was laid to rest in a vault under the nave of St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove. His brother-in-law laid a wreath of laurels on his coffin while his son-in-law laid a wreath of snow-white camellias on Mary Augusta’s coffin assisted by Mrs Stubbs, an old and respected servant of the family.

There is a simple memorial stone to Admiral Sir George Augustus Westphal on the wall of the north aisle to ‘the last surviving officer of the glorious Battle of Trafalgar’. Outside, to the west of the church, stands a large memorial surmounted by a cross with inscriptions to Westphal, his second wife and their daughter. His widow Mary Ann, described as Victorian convention dictated, a ‘relict’, died on 3rd May 1881 aged 68. At the base of the monument there is a stone scroll bearing inscriptions to four members of the Tottenham family. There was a family connection and in 1891 Mrs A. Loftus-
Tottenham lent the precious bullion from Nelson’s coat to an exhibition, as noted earlier in this article.

Major-General Frederick Melkington Kenyon-Stow – It seems fitting that an eminent military man should occupy the premises formerly home to an Admiral. Kenyon-Stow joined the 19th Hussars in 1863 as a humble cornet – the rank being abolished shortly afterwards. Later on he exchanged into the 5th Dragoon Guards, which he afterwards commanded. In 1872, while he was still with the 19th Hussars, he married Alice Millicent and the family home was at this address from 1898. The couple had three daughters and one son. Frederica became a long-standing member of Hove Town Council, while her sister Ida married Allen West, founder of the famous Allen West engineering firm in Brighton. The colonel died in this house on 30 August 1913.

4 Brunswick Square
copyright © J.Middleton
4 Brunswick Square
Roger Quilter (1877-1953) was born at 4 Brunswick Square, Hove, on 1st November 1877. Some reference books record his place of birth as Brighton but this is a common mistake, not helped by the fact that people who lived in the Brunswick area in the nineteenth century often referred to their place of residence as Brighton. Brunswick Town was built within the parish of Hove but its eastern boundary was right next door to Brighton’s boundary whereas the old village of Hove was away to the west.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Brunswick Square
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Cecil Bingham Levita (1867-1953)
- In 1886 he was commissioned into the Royal Horse Artillery, and served with distinction at Matebele and during the Boer Wars. He might have thought his days of military service were over but in 1914 he was re-called to the colours and served as a general staff officer, and was even Mentioned in Dispatches. Other honours were as follows:

Queen’s Medal (with three clasps)

Received the CBE in 1919

Russian Order of the Czar (Second Class)

Commander of the Legion of Honour

Commander of the Order of St John of Jerusalem

Knighted in 1929

Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order 1932

On 30 May 1917 Levita married Florence Woodruff, and the couple had one son and one daughter. He was a member of Hove Council from 1919 to 1923, and then he resigned because he was heavily committed to the London County Council, where he served for many years, becoming chairman 1928-29; he and Herbert Morrison were bitter enemies.

In 1936 Levita was sued for slander by Richard Stanton Lambert, editor of The Listener. The rumpus started because Levita strongly objected to an article Lambert had written about the supposed haunting of a house in the Isle of Man by an entity known as Gef, the talking mongoose. One can imagine the down-to-earth old soldier spluttering over his newspaper, and obviously holding no truck with the supernatural, jumped to the conclusion that Lambert was therefore unfit to sit on the board of the British Film Institute – the fact that Lady Levita also sat on the same board may have some bearing on the matter. But Levita lost the case and was obliged to pay out the hefty sum of £7,500. Not surprisingly, the court case aroused considerable national interest, and was known as the ‘Talking Mongoose Affair’. Gef, the talking mongoose, still arouses interest to this day, and articles appear on the subject in the Fortean Times.

In 1940 Levita made an urgent appeal on behalf of the Brighton & Hove wing of the Air Defence Force at the Lido cinema in Denmark Villas, Hove, before the screening of the film The Lion has Wings. Levita died at Hove aged 86 in October 1953.

11 Brunswick Square
Major General Webber Smith of the Royal Artillery aged 72 lived in this house in 1851 with his wife, a visitor and seven servants (four female and three male). He had the distinction of commanding F Troop Horse Brigade at the Battle of Waterloo fought on 18th June 1815, which effectively ended the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Major General Webber Smith died in 1853 and was buried in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove.

15 Brunswick Square
Captain Richard Heaviside. Although the family was hardly of national importance, the name became associated with a sensational local scandal. John Gregory Crace was still a young man when Captain Heaviside engaged him to design the interior decoration of his residence at Brunswick Square. One of his suggestions was a large statue of Diana the Huntress (with crescent moon on her head) set in a niche painted to resemble marble and on either side of the niche were two diamond shapes that were as tall as the statue itself.

The Captain was a large and powerful man with a height of 6 feet and 6 inches. There is an amusing anecdote about the time Samuel Webb, a very bulky churchwarden, made a complaint to Heaviside who was a magistrate. Webb’s grievance concerned the line of posts positioned near the church of St John the Baptist to stop vehicles from travelling west. Webb found himself unable to squeeze through such a small opening. Heaviside was unsympathetic, pronouncing in his booming voice ‘If you are too fat, Webb, to get through the posts, do as I do, step over them’.

The Heavisides had been married for sixteen years and were the parents of three children when on 13th March 1840 Mrs Heaviside eloped with the Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at London University. He was the Revd Dionysius Lardner, well-known as an author too, and the affair caused a terrific scandal. The couple travelled to Paris under the name of Mr and Mrs Bennett, hotly pursued by Captain Heaviside and Colonel Spicer, the errant wife’s father. There was a confrontation in a Paris apartment where the Captain gave Dr Lardner a severe thrashing and threw his wig on the fire. Dr Lardner managed to escape further injury by crawling under a piano. At Lewes Assizes in August Captain Heaviside brought an action against Dr Lardner for criminal conversion and was awarded £8,000, a considerable sum in those days. The Heaviside marriage was dissolved in 1845 and the Lardner marriage ended in 1849, whereupon the besotted lovers married and settled in Paris. They went on to have two children of their own. Society was not kindly disposed to the new Mrs Lardner, particularly as she was the heiress to some £13,000 and there was nothing anybody could do to dispossess her, scandal or no scandal. In spite of the notoriety of the case, the Captain’s mother continued to live in Brunswick Square where she was recorded in 1851 living with her grand-daughter and six servants (five female and one male).

17 Brunswick Square
copyright © J.Middleton
17 Brunswick Square 
Richard Polhill Bevan (1865-1925) Robert Polhill Bevan was born at 17 Brunswick Square, Hove, on 5th August 1865 and he was the fourth child of the marriage. Laura Maria Polhill married Richard Alexander Bevan in 1861. The Brunswick Square house was the Polhill’s family home for over 40 years and Edward Polhill had been a Brunswick Square Commissioner from 1836 to 1859. The Bevans did not normally share the premises but they had recently purchased an estate of over 100 acres at Cuckfield, a house being in the course of construction, and so it seemed sensible for Mrs Bevan to spend her confinement with her widowed mother.

The Bevan family was heavily involved in banking, the tradition having started with Silvanus Bevan, banker of Lombard Street, London. It was his grandson, Richard Alexander Bevan (1834-1918), who joined the Union Bank at Brighton in 1859 and Bevan’s second son, Lancelot Richard Bevan (1863-1918), became a partner in 1891. The Union Bank was taken over in 1894 and a couple of years later it became Barclay & Co. with no less than four Bevans as directors of the local head office at North Street, Brighton. The family tradition continued into the 20th century.

Robert Bevan grew up with his siblings on the family estate called Horsgate at Cuckfield. Robert and his brothers, Richard, Lancelot and Herbert, enjoyed a country lifestyle, belonging to two hunts while the family kept two packs of harriers. As an artist Robert’s easy familiarity with horses is evident in his work.

Although Robert Polhill Bevan did not inherit his family’s financial genes, the money accrued did mean he was free to follow his artistic bent. He received an allowance, which was of great assistance to his ambitions, although sometimes he was short of funds and on one occasion was obliged to pawn his gold watch and chain. He was thus more fortunate than his sister Edith who had no independent life of her own until her father died in 1918 when she was aged 49. Robert received an inheritance of £10,000. 

Robert Bevan was educated at Winchester and he was at Oxford briefly, before enrolling at the Westminster School of Art in 1888 where he was taught by the principal, Fred Brown. He lodged at the house of Alfred E. Pearce who had come to Horsgate to give him drawing lessons in previous years.

In 1889 Bevan went to Paris where he studied for a year at the Academie Julian, the largest art school in the city. In 1890 he went to Pont-Aven with fellow artist Eric Forbes-Robertson where he soon filled three sketch-books with his work. After a visit to Tangier, he was back in Pont-Aven in 1893 and it is claimed that it was there Renoir encouraged him to draw horses.

Stanislawa de Karlowska

In July 1897 Bevan arrived in Jersey to attend the wedding of his friend Forbes-Robertson to a Polish art student. It turned out to be a momentous occasion for Bevan because the bridesmaid was Stanislawa de Karlowska and the attraction between the two was immediate. He pursued her to her country house in Poland and the story goes that she was combing her hair when she heard the arrival of horses in the courtyard and glimpsed Bevan through the window, dropping her comb in surprise. At first their language of communication was French and when they travelled to England she was still in the process of mastering English.

They married in Warsaw on 9th December 1898 and by 1900 had moved to London. But it is interesting to note that their daughter and son were both born at Horsgate. Bevan’s wife, known as Stania, was described as his greatest asset and being an artist herself, she could understand what drove him. She continued to paint under her maiden name and sometimes they both sent works to be exhibited.

Camden Town Group

Bevan and Stania knew the leading figures of the Fitzroy Street Group such as Walter Sickert, Augustus John, Lucien Pissaro, Charles Ginner, Harold Gilman and Spencer Gore.

In May 1911 Bevan became one of the founder members of the Camden Town Group, which developed around Sickert. Originally there were sixteen members of the group including Pissaro, Augustus John and Wyndham Lewis; Duncan Grant did not become a member until later on.

They held their first exhibition in June 1911 and Bevan’s Cab Horse was part of it; the Tate Gallery now owns the painting. There was a second exhibition in the same year, held in December, and one of Bevan’s works was Cab Yard, Night. In 1913 this work was exhibited at Brighton Art Gallery and purchased by Brighton Council for £400. In recent years this same work was one of the main attractions at an exhibition held at Hove Museum.

In 1914 Bevan paid his first visit to Applehayes, near the Devon and Somerset border, with Ginner and Gore, and he liked it so much that after the war he went every year. The painting called Rosemary La Vallee was painted there. In 1987 Hove Museum was keen to acquire this small oil painting and the artist’s daughter agreed to cut the recommended price from £24,000 to £20,000. There were grants available to cover £15,000 of the cost and so Hove Museum only had to fork out £5,000 in the end.

Bevan’s Work

Bevan painted in oil, watercolour and crayon and his subjects ranged from English landscapes to Polish scenes, and from market scenes to horses. He also painted a few portraits. It is pleasant to record that his reputation as an artist has grown with the years.

Bevan died on 8th July 1925 after an operation at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, just before his 40th birthday. He was buried in the family grave at Cuckfield.

He bequeathed part of his collection to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The obituary in the Times had this to say. ‘A member of the original group of enthusiasts who gathered round the late Spencer Gore and the late Harold Gilman in Camden Town, Bevan responded to the influences of the movement known as Post-Impressionism without prejudice to his personal delicacy, the influence working out in his case in a preoccupation with colour pattern. His earliest works which attracted attention were studies of the cab-rank and show-ring.’ The article also spoke of his ‘characteristically angular treatment of the masses’.

His widow died on 9th December 1952, a victim of the London fog.

26 Brunswick Square
Sir Spencer Gore and Family. The Gores lived in Ireland for two centuries and a member of the family became Speaker of the House of Commons in Ireland. The eldest son of the Speaker was Ralph who was born on 3rd December 1758 and when he grew up he married Grace, daughter of the 1st Earl of Farnham. The Gores were in England by 1829 and settled in Surrey before moving to Hove. They rented 20 Brunswick Square at first but soon moved to number 26, which the family occupied for at least 65 years. Sir Ralph and Lady Gore had four children: three daughters and a son. Their first child, also called Grace, was born in 1804 and she later became the wife of Frederick Dundas (1802-1872) who was MP for Orkney. In fact she was the only one to be married. Her sisters, Martha Elizabeth (born in 1806) and Elizabeth Esther (born in 1809) stayed dutifully at home, supporting their mother and immersing themselves in good works. The son and heir, St George Gore, was born on 28th April 1811 in Dublin but was educated at Winchester and Oriel College, Oxford.

The house in Brunswick Square contained mementoes of the family seat at Farnham, County Cavan, Ireland, which had been built in around 1700. The family plate adorned with the Farnham crest was brought out on special occasions. But in the drawing room two ice-buckets sporting views of Farnham were on permanent display. On the wall of the drawing room hung a portrait of Lady Farnham painted by the celebrated artist Angelica Kauffman. In the dining room there was a portrait of Lady Grace Gore and her sister. Later there were numerous hunting trophies, courtesy of St George Gore, including a stag’s head from the Highlands and at least six heads of wapiti (North American elk) one of which was supposed to have ended up in Brighton Museum. Sir Ralph Gore died at Hove on 25th March 1842 in his 84th year and he was buried in the vaults of St Andrew’s Church, Waterloo Street. His family erected an elaborate memorial to him, which included a bas-relief of a classical building adorned with laurel leaves and some incongruous pebbles in the foreground. The long inscription spoke of the ‘kindest of husbands and most affectionate of fathers’.
copyright © J.Middleton
Gore Family Tomb, St Andrew Churchyard, Hove 
The family continued to live at Brunswick Square with a large domestic staff to see to their needs. For instance in 1861 there were ten – a butler, two footmen and seven female servants. One of the latter was Frances Duncan (1797-1867) who was the faithful and valued servant of Lady Grace Gore for over 35 years. She died just four months after Lady Grace died and was buried near her at Hove. Lady Grace died on 19th June 1866 at Horsham Park where she was staying, having recently celebrated her 94th year. She could not be buried with her husband because by then the vaults at St Andrew’s had been closed and so a family vault was created in the west part of the churchyard belonging to St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove. Some eighteen months later her eldest daughter Mrs Grace Dundas was also buried there: she died on 15th January 1868.

When his father died St George Gore became the 8th baronet. It appears he never felt obliged to work or engage in philanthropic pursuits but was free to indulge his passion for hunting and fishing. His most remarkable expedition was a grand hunt he embarked upon in the USA where it became one of the legends of the West. It started from St Louis in 1854 and did not conclude until three years later. According to reports he travelled with a large retinue consisting of four six-mule wagons, two three-yoke ox wagons and 21 red-painted carts pulled by two horses each. One wagon contained his personal armoury of some 75 rifles, from twelve to fifteen shotguns and a large number of pistols. With such an arsenal at hand, he never had to bother about reloading but simply handed the spent gun to an attendant. His fishing tackle alone required the use of two wagons and his entourage of 41 men included an expert fly-maker. One wagon converted into his bedroom and after a hard day of slaughtering animals and fish, he could relax in his own brass bedstead. There was also a retinue of 40 to 50 dogs: well-bred greyhounds or staghounds. The amount of game killed was enormous – some 2,000 buffaloes, around 40 grizzly bears and over 1,000 elks, antelopes, etc. Nobody bothered to count the fish.

The Gore Range and the Gore Pass in Colorado were named after him. Sir St George Gore died on 31st December 1878 at Inverness, where he had gone in pursuit of yet more sport. The family solicitor had to travel north to make arrangements for his body to be brought back to Hove and buried in the family vault.
Meanwhile, his sisters remained in Brunswick Square. Martha ran the Coal Club, which was based at Farman Street Schools. The club purchased coal at cheaper summer prices to enable members to keep warm in the winter. On 13th February 1866 Martha was busy for nearly two hours on Coal Club business in one of the classrooms, which resulted in children missing their lessons. But the Coal Club was such an essential service in an area of great poverty and later a clothing club and a blanket lending society were also based at the school. Martha died on 25th November 1894 in her 89th year and Elizabeth died on 18th May 1904 in her 95th year. In their wills the sisters remembered the Brighton & Hove Dispensary, the Sussex County Hospital, the Agnew Institution for Training Servants and the Brighton Home for Female Penitents.

27 Brunswick Square
Marquis de St Augustin. It is interesting to find in 1871 a member of the French aristocracy living in the square – it must have caused quite a ripple in polite society. The Marquis de St Augustin aged 62 lived with his wife the Marquise. It was a Protestant household since the Marquis had with him his secretary and chaplain Antonio Rubin who was a married man. The household contained no less than eight male servants (born variously in France, Italy and Spain) and three female servants (also with varied places of birth).

28 Brunswick Square
Edith Dickenson (1851-1903) –
Possibly the term ‘famous resident’ is not strictly accurate with regard to young Edith because she was only a small child when she lived here but since in later life she became a famous name in Australia, she has surely earned a mention. The reason for the family living in the area was that her father was in the military and stationed at Brighton where he was in charge of the cavalry. He was Lieutenant Colonel Henry Frederick Bonham (1808-1856) of the 10th Royal Hussars.

Edith’s mother was Augusta Musgrave, daughter of Revd John Christopher Musgrave (1797-1834). Augusta had three sisters, one with an equally regal name was Georgiana, and then there were Fanny, and Harriet who went on to marry Sir Walter Barttlot MP; it is interesting to note that Harriet was born at Hove in 1832. Edith’s full names at birth were Edith Charlotte Musgrave Bonham, thus ensuring that the name ‘Musgrave’ was carried on to the next generation, there being no sons.

Edith’s parents were married at St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove, on 27 August 1850. The event caused considerable excitement in the area because the sisters were regarded as Hove girls, having been brought up in Brunswick Square. Their grandmother was Lady Musgrave of Eden Hall, Cumbria, who had put money in trust for her grand-daughters to be handed over to them when they either married or reached the age of twenty-one, whichever event occurred first. The reporter, at the end of an exceptionally long article, could not resist ending his piece with ‘The young lady brings a considerable fortune, not in lands, but in money to her husband.’ Lady Musgrave was present at the church to see Augusta married. It is interesting to note that she had purchased 54 Brunswick Square from Revd Thomas Richard Rooper, who also witnessed her will, while the Musgrave girls were brought up in 56 Brunswick Square under the care of their aunt Miss Julia Hasell with their own governess. (Julia Hasell born 1802 in Cumberland, died in 1891 at 46 Brunswick Road, buried in St Andrew's churchyard)

On the wedding day, Hove people crowded into the nave of the church, while others preferred to stand outside to have a good view of the bridesmaids and bride. They were rewarded with the sight of no less than ten bridesmaids decked out in ‘tarlatan dresses with flounces pinked, and white tulle bonnets with rosebuds’. (Tarlatan was a type of muslin). The bridegroom arrived, looking suitably martial, but the bride kept everyone waiting for more than ten minutes. The bride’s veil was secured with an orange-flower garland. The reporter noted that she was of small stature and ‘strongly resembled Her Majesty’ (Queen Victoria). The bride was given away by her uncle Sir George Musgrave.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove  
( a section of George Hilditch's "View of Hove" c.1850)
St Andrew's Old Church was in a rural location in 1851, the wedding party would have had to travel along the coast road and up Hove Street, as the track in the centre of the painting (now Church Road) was a no through road from Brunswick Square.

When the bridal party left the church it was by the old west entrance and not the south porch we know today. Also, the church was bell-less, and so the bells of St Nicolas Church, Brighton, rang out instead. The bridal party and guests then departed for a sumptuous breakfast at Brunswick Square prepared by the famous Mr Mutton. As a final flourish and tribute, the band of the Royal Hussars marched around Brunswick Square.

The Bonhams lived at first at Adelaide Terrace, Hove, where Edith was born on 30 May 1851; Edith was baptised in the Chapel Royal, Brighton, on 22 June 1851. She had two brothers; Henry was born in 1853 in Suffolk, and Frederick arrived three years later at 28 Brunswick Square being baptised in St Andrew’s Chapel, Waterloo Street, Hove, on 3 April 1856.

The Bonhams did not stay in Hove for very long because the unfortunate Colonel died at 28 Brunswick Square on 16 February 1856 at the age of 48. His premature death was made more tragic by the fact that he died twelve days before his son Frederick was born.

The Bonham family then moved to Suffolk where the widow lost no time in making an advantageous second marriage to John Rous, 2nd Earl of Stradbroke, and young Edith was brought up in spacious Henham Hall. Edith was still in her teens when she married a clergyman who hailed from Cork. Her husband was the Revd William Belcher whose parish was in Larling, Norfolk. Later, they moved to Heveningham, Suffolk. It is not surprising, given her young age, that Edith quickly produced five children.

So far, so conventional. But then in 1884 a coup de foudre appeared on the scene in the shape of Augustus Dickenson, a married surgeon and physician. They were so attracted to each other that they took the enormous step of leaving behind their families and decamping to Australia. The scandal must have been tremendous, especially with her being married to a clergyman and the mother of five children.

But you have to wonder if this impulsive action lead to happiness or regret because by the late 1890s we find Edith Dickenson (she adopted his surname) on travels in the Far East, and visiting India and Burma, where she shot Big Game and observed her surroundings – it sounds like a classic case of distraction therapy. It seems she was also a writer-in-waiting, and she despatched twelve articles about her travels to the Adelaide Advertiser, which were published and later became a book.

copyright © National Library of Australia
The Pioneer 27 April 1901

The editor must have seen some merit in her writing because she was then commissioned as a war correspondent on the Boer War for the newspaper and travelled to South Africa, arriving at the famous Ladysmith just after the siege had been lifted. But her scoop must be her descriptions of the dreadful conditions endured by South African / Boer women and children forced into concentration camps by the British. Measles and typhoid raged through the crowded camps, causing many unnecessary deaths. Her work on this subject was picked up by activists, and made her famous in Australia as the country’s first female war correspondent.

In 1901 Augustus joined Edith in South Africa, and for a short time he practised as a doctor at a concentration camp. But he must have been deeply unhappy, turning to alcohol for consolation, and he died in 1902. Edith was not long in following him, dying near Cape Town on 17 February 1903. (Information kindly supplied by A. George; further research by D. Sharp)

Wilhelmina Stitch lived in the house in the 1930s. She was a prolific writer of both prose and verse and became a popular public speaker. Her most noted work was The Fragrant Minute now largely forgotten but unexpectedly brought back to public view by Vikram Seth. In his bestseller A Suitable Boy (1998) Seth quoted a poem from the book called The Lady Baby on page 969. Stitch also wrote the text for the Hove Official Guide 1934-1935 which conveyed the general admiration of a visiting family for all the attractions and amenities the borough had to offer. In 1924 she married Dr Frank Collie of Vallance Road, Hove. She died in London in March 1936.

29 Brunswick Square
Eric Gillett. He was an author and journalist who lived in flat 4, 29 Brunswick Square. He was famous locally for two successful actions against Hove Council’s attempts to turn portions of Brunswick Square into a large car park. Gillett was also a veteran broadcaster featuring on some 2,000 occasions for the BBC, Radio Luxemburg, Radio Normandie and the Swedish and Dutch networks. On 6th October 1962 he married Nancy Miller, a teacher at the exclusive Downs School in Seaford. He died aged 85 on 8th December 1978.
Baroness Denington (1907-1998). She was born on 9th August and named Evelyn Joyce. She was the daughter of Philip Bursill, chief librarian of Woolwich, and his wife Edith, daughter of a sculptor. The family lived over the library and Evelyn was educated at Blackheath High School and Bedford College. She developed a lifelong interest in town planning after taking a job as an editorial assistant on the Architectural and Building News. Although the work was interesting, the pay was minimal and so in 1933 she decided to take a post teaching in a LCC Junior School, which she continued to do until 1950. In 1935 she married Cecil Denington whom she met at a teacher’s party. During World War II he served as a captain in the Pioneer Corps in Italy.
In 1946 she joined the London County Council and in 1964 became chairman of the Housing Committee. It was an onerous position because she was responsible for 120,000 homes, making her the largest housing landlord in the world. She also served on Stevenage Development Corporation for 30 years, fourteen of them as chairman. The Royal Institute of British Architects made her an honorary fellow in recognition of her work; she was appointed CBE in 1966, DBE in 1974 and became a peer in 1978. She was a fervent believer in comprehensive education and was instrumental in causing the Labour Party to commit itself to the cause. When she retired she moved to 29 Brunswick Square. She died on 22nd August 1998 at the age of 91, having spent the previous eighteen months in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

31 Brunswick Square
Revd Henry Venn Elliott (1792-1865). This house was the family home of the Elliotts from 1835 to 1865. Henry Venn Elliott’s father was Charles Elliott of Grove House, Clapham, and Westfield Lodge, Brighton. Charles had five children by his first wife Sarah Anne, daughter of the Revd Dr Sherman, and eight children by his second wife Eling, daughter of the Revd Henry Venn. The children of the second marriage were Eliza (she married the Revd FR Spragge) Katherine Jane (she married Mr S Brasier) Charlotte, Mary Sophia, Henry Venn, Edward Bishop, Eleanor (she married the Revd John Babington) and the youngest Basil, who at the age of fifteen, was lost aboard the Peacock. The loss of this ship was a double tragedy for the family because Mary Sophia’s fiancée also perished on the Peacock and she never married 

Henry Venn Elliott was born on 17th January 1792. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, and spent so much time at his books he developed problems with his eyesight. He was elected a Fellow in 1816. From 1819 to 1820 he travelled abroad, visiting Rome, Naples and the Holy Land. In Italy he witnessed the ceremony of a lady taking the veil, which he found a melancholy occasion. He was ordained deacon in 1823 and priest in 1826 but his brother Edward took Holy Orders before he did. Henry spent a short spell as a country curate but his life’s work was spent at St Mary’s Chapel, Upper Rock Gardens, where he laboured as perpetual curate for 38 years. This building was a proprietary chapel built by Henry’s father Charles Elliott (1751-1832) at an eventual cost of £10,000. AH Wilds, the architect, designed the chapel in a classical style while the land on which it stood was donated by the Earl of Egremont. The St Mary’s Church we see today is not the same one because the church replaced the chapel in 1877.   

The Revd Henry Venn Elliott lived at 33 Brunswick Terrace from 1834 to 1835 and at 31 Brunswick Square from 1835 to 1865. When his father died he inherited a handsome amount. In 1834 he laid the foundation stone of St Mary’s Hall School, which was designed by George Basevi, his neighbour in Brunswick Square; it opened on 1st August 1836. It was an idealistic venture designed exclusively for the daughters of poorer clergymen but he later said if he had known how difficult the enterprise would be, he would never have embarked upon it. He devoted a great deal of time and money to it and when he died he left the school a large legacy, and 1,000 books from his own library. A former pupil remembered his kindness and how he liked to invite several pupils to have tea with him at home. He played games with the younger ones and read to the older ones or showed them pictures or curiosities.
copyright © J.Middleton
Elliott Family Tomb in St Andrew Churchyard, Hove 
In 1833 he married Julia Marshall and their eldest son, also Henry Venn, was born the following year. Charles was born in 1835 and the eldest daughter Eling Frances Julia arrived in 1839. In 1841 a fifth child, Julius Marshall, was born but the following month Mrs Elliott died of scarlet fever. She was buried in the family vault of St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove. Her mother-in-law was so shocked by her sudden loss that she went into a decline and died on 16th April 1843. Three months later, Henry’s sister Mary Sophia also died. The family had suffered enough shocks but there was a further tragedy in store. The eldest son, nicknamed Harry, was a bright child and all set to go to Harrow at the age of thirteen. He sorted out his belongings, selected presents for all his friends and gave away his childish books. On Saturday 13 May 1848 he ran to another house in Brunswick Square to give a schoolfellow the six pence he owed and stopped to play. They played on the leads covering the outside premises in the back yards of all the houses. Someone dared him to make a leap, which he did in ignorance of the deep gap beyond. He caught his foot on the parapet and fell headlong onto the flagged yard below. He died three weeks later and his funeral took place on 5th June. He too was buried at Hove in the family vault.

The Revd Henry Venn Elliott was against Sunday trading and Sunday excursion trains. A petition against the latter was drawn up and signed by 83 clergymen resident at Brighton and 5,000 laity. It was despatched to the directors of the railway who took no notice. He was interested in assisting Brighton College, Brighton & Hove Dispensary, the Diocesan Training College and Brighton National School. He donated the site on which the Blind Asylum was built and contributed more than £1,500 towards the cost of building St Mark’s Church, Kemp Town, of which his brother the Revd Edward Bishop Elliott was the incumbent for 22 years. On his deathbed he summoned all his servants and blessed them individually. He died on 24th January 1865.
His sister Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871) although considered to be of delicate health managed to outlive many of her family. She was often confined to her room but found consolation in religion and wrote many hymns. The most famous one is Just as I am, without one plea, which was published in 1834, contained in a pamphlet entitled The Invalid’s Hymn Book. Her brother Henry once famously remarked that this hymn had done more good than the whole of his ministry.  In 1837 she published Morning and Evening Hymns for a Week anonymously but later editions carried her name after a man claimed to be the author. She still has three hymns in the English Hymnal – number 316 Just as I am, number 374 Christian, seek not yet repose and number 440 My God and Father, while I Stray. Charlotte lived in Regency Square, Brighton, from 1843 but when she died she joined the rest of her family in the vault at Hove.

33 Brunswick Square
School. Despite business activities being supposedly banned from the square, this house was occupied by a school from 1836 until the 1890s or later. Perhaps a school for young ladies was genteel enough for the Commissioners to turn a blind eye. In 1836 Miss Lefaudeux (formerly Miss Crabtree of East Sheen) moved her school from 29 Brunswick Square to 33 Brunswick Square. But by 1848 the premises were occupied by a gentlemen’s school run by the Revd Dr Morris DL Oxford. It was the same in 1851 but by 1861 it was the turn of the young ladies again. Miss Josephine Gilbertson, aged 50, ran the school with the assistance of three governesses. Miss Gilbertson’s school contained 21 female pupils plus a 6-year old boy who had probably been accepted because his two sisters were already there – the three of them having been born in Ceylon). By 1871 a matron was employed and there were five female servants. Miss Gilbertson produced a prospectus in 1874 stating she was assisted by the most approved Masters and ‘receives under her care a limited number of young Ladies to instruct in the various branches of a liberal education’. The fee for a girl over twelve was 80 guineas a year, and she was taught English and French Literature, writing, arithmetic, and music.  For 100 guineas a year, education could be widened to include German, drawing and learning the piano. Younger pupils were charged 70 guineas a year. A seat at church cost two guineas a year and the laundry bill came to six guineas a year. Miss Gilbertson remained until the mid-1870s but by 1881 there was a new headmistress in charge. She was Miss Deborah Wageman aged 56 and she employed three governesses and six female servants. There were nineteen young ladies.

Miss Wageman remained until 1891 and then the house remained empty until Mr WJ Fraser took over in 1898. In December 1904 Hove Council received a letter from Holmes & Johnson, solicitors of Ship Street, Brighton. It stated ‘We have been instructed by numerous occupiers and owners of houses in Brunswick Square to call your attention to the fact that the premises known as 33 Brunswick Square, have recently been opened and are now being used as an Hotel in contravention of section 12 of the Brunswick Square Improvement Act (1830)’. It was felt the presence of the hotel would cause the value of the properties to depreciate.

George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907

G.F. Bodley was born in Hull, although his family settled on the south coast. In 1812 his father, William Hulme Bodley, had married Mary Anne Harrison, daughter of Revd Frederick Harrison, minister at the Congregational Church, Union Street, Brighton. W.H. Bodley, M.D. received his medical training in Edinburgh, and the couple went on to have nine children, the youngest being G.F. Bodley. It must be something of a 19th century record because all the children survived into old age.

George Frederick Bodley attended the school run by Dr Morris at 33 Brunswick Square although he did not progress to university. Perhaps he was uncertain about which career he might follow; if that were the case, then he received his ‘eureka’ moment at his sister Georgina’s wedding at St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove on 14 May 1846. She married a Brighton doctor, Samuel King Scott, and G.F. Bodley made the acquaintance of an up-and-coming architect by the name of George Gilbert Scott. Young Bodley was so impressed with the architect that he lost no time in asking his father to set up a pupillage at Scott’s place of business. By 1852 G.F. Bodley was confident enough to start his own practice; later on, he worked in a partnership with Thomas Garner. Bodley spent some nine years at Brighton before moving to London.

G.F Bodley enjoyed an enormously successful career and it was a case of being in the right place at the right time because he lived through the expansive time of Victorian church building. He was acquainted with William Morris and was a long-standing friend of Ovingdean-born stained-glass artist Charles Eamer Kempe (1838-1907). Bodley’s output was astonishing – he was the architect of some 47 new churches, and was consulted about the furnishings, repairs or alterations of over 50 other churches. Nor were his efforts confined to the United Kingdom because he was responsible for St David’s Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania. Nearer to home, he designed the original church of St Michael and all Angels, Brighton, and St Wilfrid’s Church, Haywards Heath. He was also the architect of St Mary and St Mary Magdalene Church, Brighton, which was unfortunately demolished in the 1960s.

It is interesting to note that George Frederick Bodley is famous enough today to merit a blue plaque in the house he occupied in Harley Street, London, but as yet there is no memorial to him at Hove. Perhaps number 33 will become a rare house with two blue plaques.

(Hall, Michael George Frederick Bodley and the later Gothic Revival in Britain and America. Yale University Press (2014)
Hall, Michael G.F. Bodley and his Family at Brighton. Newsletter of St Michael and all Angels, Brighton, The Flyer December 2017.)

copyright © J.Middleton
33 Brunswick Square 
Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941). 
Hamilton was an Irish-born musician who started out in Hillsborough, County Down. He came from a large family because he had nine siblings, five brothers and four sisters, and he was the fourth son. Harty’s father was passionate about music and an inspiring teacher who taught pupils how to play the organ, piano, violin and cello as well as giving singing lessons. He also built up a fine library of music scores that ranged from oratorios to symphonies and from opera to piano classics. It was to this library that Harty attributed his musical education and his father encouraged him to play through as much as possible. By the age of twelve, Harty was organist at Magheragall Church in County Dublin.

In 1900 Harty left Ireland for London and two years later he met Agnes Nicholls; the couple married in 1904. She had made her operatic debut in 1895 and she had some influential friends who helped Harty in his aspirations to become a conductor. In 1907 at the Cardiff Festival she sang as a soprano soloist Harty’s fine setting of Keats’s poem Ode to a Nightingale. But the marriage was not a success.

As for Harty’s musical life, his arrangement of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks and Water Music were well known but in recent times have fallen out of favour. He was much influenced by the Celtic Revival and in 1887 he composed an Irish Symphony while his last composition was The Children of Lir. His tone poem With the Wild Geese was popular.

Harty was always a talented pianist but he also excelled in the delicate art of accompanying a singer and seemed to anticipate a singer’s needs. He had played the accompaniment when his future wife Agnes Nicholls gave a recital too.

Perhaps today Harty is best remembered as conductor of the Hallé Orchestra from 1920 to 1933 and under his direction it became the finest orchestra in England. He liked to introduce new works and composers to his audience, which can always be something of a risk. He conducted the first performances in England of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and Shostakovich’s First Symphony. He was also something of an expert at interpreting the works of Berlioz.

Although conducting an orchestra of sensitive musicians was a serious business, Harty was not without a sense of humour. On one occasion a brass player refused to play in a softer tone when asked to do so. The brass player said his score had the passage marked as forte and Harty told him to make it ‘twenty’ instead.

But after the passage of so much time in charge of the Hallé, frictions and disagreements arose and Harty decided it was time to call it a day and resigned. Instead he became guest conductor with other orchestras who perhaps valued his experience.
In 1934 Harty sailed for Australia where he had a successful tour. On the voyage out there was a romantic interlude that has only come to light in recent years. He became besotted with a young lady by the name of Lorie Bolland and composed two piano pieces for her, one of them composed especially for her birthday. These pieces were discovered by her son amongst his mother’s papers and performed in public for the first time in 2012.

In 1936 Harty was given the devastating diagnosis of a brain tumour. He underwent an operation to remove it but had to endure the loss of his right eye. He took his time convalescing from his ordeal in Ireland and abroad. But he did manage to return to conducting.

Meanwhile, Harty became close to Olive Baguley who was secretary to the Hallé Concert Society for many years; she became Harty’s personal secretary. She also nursed him devotedly during his last illness when the cancer returned.

During the 1930s Harty lived at 1 Norfolk Road in St John’s Wood. But in 1940 the building was badly damaged by bombing and Harty decided to move out of London. After a long search he took a flat at 33 Brunswick Square, Hove.

Harty and Olive enjoyed going for walks together and once, at Rottingdean, they paused outside Rudyard Kipling’s old home to read the plaque. He remarked to Olive ‘I shall never be important enough for that.’

Hamilton Harty died at Brunswick Square in February 1941. After the war ended, his ashes were brought home to Hillsborough, Ireland, his childhood home.

Olive continued to occupy the flat at 33 Brunswick Square after his death and she presented his music library to Queen’s University, Belfast.

On 16 October 1976 a blue plaque to Sir Hamilton Harty was unveiled at 33 Brunswick Square. Professor David Greer performed the unveiling and it was fitting that he held the post of Hamilton Harty Professor of Music at Queen’s University, Belfast. The Regency Society sponsored the plaque and their vice president Eric Gillett had known Harty in his later years.

As regards Harty’s reputation today, there are many people who consider he has been sadly neglected. Those who wish to understand his talented conducting can listen to the recordings made of Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Cello Concert.


It seems that it was not unknown in the music world for conductors to have extra-marital relationships. Sir Thomas Beecham was cited in a divorce case; then there was Sir Henry Wood who spent his last years with Jessie Linton while Lady Wood travelled extensively abroad.

35 Brunswick Square
Simon Nicolson Martin. Although he cannot claim national fame, he and his wife are interesting because they were survivors of a famous event in British history. Martin was employed in the Bengal Civil Service but the married couple while still in their early twenties were caught up in the Indian Mutiny and took refuge in Lucknow. On 30th June 1857 mutineers surrounded the Lucknow Rresidency while inside some 5,000 people huddled for protection. Sir Henry Lawrence had refused to demolish houses and mosques surrounding the area out of respect for the religious sensibilities of the populace and thus the mutineers were able to use snipers to great advantage. Inside the Residency disease and death were rife while the women and children were confined to the cellars to suffer in darkness and fierce heat. The first British force to reach the Lucknow Residency in September 1857 was not strong enough to break out and had to stay put. Then Sir Colin Campbell arrived with a massive force of over 20,000 men and 180 guns for the second relief of Lucknow on 17th November 1857.     

By 1881 Simon Martin was aged 52 and lived far from the heat and dust of India at 35 Brunswick Square. He had retired from the Bengal Civil Service. He lived with his wife Mary Sophia and their children: Mabel 21, Mary 19, Blanche 15, Grace 13, Angus 9 and Leila 3 plus four female servants. Not at home on census night 1881 was another son Somerled Macdonald Martin who was born in 1868 and was to die at Durban, Natal in 1890. The other son Angus Ranald Martin died in 1907. Their father died in 1909 but their widowed mother survived until 1917. They were buried in Hove Cemetery and their memories of Lucknow must have left an indelible impression for it is mentioned on the tombstone.

It is interesting to note some other connections between Hove and Lucknow. There was Colonel Robert Parker Campbell who commanded the 90th Light Infantry and died of wounds received at the relief of Lucknow (commemorated in St Andrew’s Old Church) and Captain Scovell who was also at Lucknow and later lived in Brunswick Place. Then there was the redoubtable Garnet Wolseley (1833-1913) many of whose family papers are to be found in Hove Library and whose sisters lived at Hove. Wolseley was actually the first man to greet the beleaguered garrison at Lucknow but his commander-in-chief was furious and his exploit was not mentioned in dispatches, despite the fact it was Wolseley’s men who carried out the advance. The reason behind Sir Colin Campbell’s anger was that he wished his pet 93rd Highland Regiment to take the final steps with bagpipes swirling and gain the glory.
William Babbington Maxwell. He lived at 35 Brunswick Square in the 1930s. He was a highly regarded novelist and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle thought his book The Guarded Flame was a classic. His works were very popular abroad and translated into many languages. His mother was ME Braddon who was also a well-known author. During his childhood at the family home in Richmond he met Wilkie Collins, George Augustus Sala, Oscar Wilde and Lord Lytton. Maxwell was chairman of the Society of Authors and chairman of the National Book Council He died on 4th August 1938.

37 Brunswick Square
George Basevi (1794-1845) In November 1828 George Basevi was already living in this house, being one of the first residents of the square. The Basevis were Italian Jews and George Basevi’s grandfather came to England from Verona in 1762. The Basevis were a distinguished family descended from Baron Basevi von Treuenburg, the 17th century court Jew of Prague who was ennobled by the Emperor Ferdinand. George Basevi’s grandmother Rebecca Rieti possessed a genealogy stretching back to Israel Aboub who, when Torquemada expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492, led 20,000 fellow Jews into Portugal. George Basevi’s Uncle Joshua and Aunt Sarah were married to members of the Lindo family whose ancestry was even more brilliant than the Basevis. George Basevi was thus related to the leading Anglo-Jewish families, the Lindos, Mocattas, Mendez de Costas, Goldsmiths and Montefiores.
George Basevi’s aunt Maria Basevi married Isaac D’Israeli and became the mother of Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) British statesman and novelist. Maria was something of an enigma; the rest of her family wrote letters avidly but not she. When Disraeli wrote a memoir of his father, he never mentioned his mother once. Monypenny, who wrote a biography of Disraeli in Edwardian times, had this to say ‘the Basevi family were … not devoid of intellectual distinction, but no portion of it seems to have fallen to the lot of Maria Basevi’. Disraeli inherited his mother’s looks if nothing else.

George Basevi was born in London in 1794 and educated by Dr Burney at Greenwich. In 1811 he became the favourite pupil of Sir John Soane and embarked upon the Grand Tour in 1816, a jaunt lasting three years. He visited Italy and Greece and when he returned home the first buildings he designed were Grecian in style.
In the 1830s he was busy with two local projects. He designed St Mary’s Hall School in Kemp Town, Brighton in what has been labelled early Tudor style for the Revd Henry Venn Elliott who was a neighbour in Brunswick Square. The school opened in 1836. At the same time he designed and restored St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove, which had been in a ruined state for many years. But it was not a time of unmitigated happiness because it transpired that Mr Davies (clerk of the works) whom he knew and trusted, was at loggerheads with the contractors James and Joseph Butler. The church was re-opened on 8th June 1836 and on 14th November 1836 Basevi wrote ‘I hope having completed my labor (sic) of Hove Church I shall be considered worthy my reward’.

Among other churches he designed were St Thomas at Stockport and St Mary at Greenwich, both in a pagan style. Basevi was involved with some work at Balliol College, Oxford, when he extended the Bristol Buildings northwards, the old inn on the site having been demolished. But his most important work was the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. He enlarged the Middlesex Hospital and in 1840 designed and superintended the building of all the houses in Belgrave Square except for those at the corners.
On 16th October 1845 Basevi was inspecting repairs on the western bell tower at Ely Cathedral when he fell through a hole in the floor and was killed. He was buried in a chapel at the east end of the cathedral. In case it should be thought odd that a Jew was buried in a Christian cathedral, it should be mentioned Basevi and his parents did not practice the Jewish faith of their ancestors and in fact were converted to the Anglican church. The Disraelis were another distinguished family who converted. It should also be noted that in England at that time it was impossible to be educated at university or to make any progress in public life as a Jew.
George Basevi’s father, also called George Basevi, lived at 37 Brunswick Square too.  He served for many years as a magistrate and deputy lieutenant of the county but his later years were filled with grief. Firstly, his son George predeceased him in 1845, then his daughter Emma died 3rd December 1848 and his wife Bathsheba aged 79 died in 1849. Finally he died aged 86 on 24th February 1851. The Basevi family’s vault is located in St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove. The memorial tablet includes the Basevi coat-of-arms, which can be described thus: per pale sable and argent a two-headed eagle and in chief two crescents counter-charged. Basevi impaling or in base two bars gules; on the upper a tree; on the dexter side the escutcheon and on the sinister side a lion rampant sable.

38 Brunswick Square
Charles James Oldham (1843-1907) Although you could not say he was famous, nationally, he was an interesting man with a great love for antique musical instruments, and he also had a keen appreciation of classical Greek and Latin. By profession he was a registered surgeon, and later, a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. The 1891 census recorded him living at 38 Brunswick Square, unmarried, but with four female servants to look after him. On census night, a Lieutenant General was staying with him. In his will, Oldham left each servant in his employ at the time of his death £10 for each year, or portion of a year, in his service, to which could be added any years spent in his father’s service. To his coachman, Thomas Gandy, he left the freehold house and premises at 21 Bute Street, Brighton, that Gandy rented from Oldham. Oldham left his secretary £20 for each year of his employment.
Oldham was a very wealthy man, and although he was well able to finance his indulgences, he still managed to leave the gross sum of £77,959-16-11d in his will. He died in this house on 24 January 1907. His most incredible bequest was to the British Museum consisting of no less than four musical instruments made by the famous Antonio Stradivarius of Cremona (c.1644-1737) described as follows:
Violin ‘Rode’
Violin ‘Spanish’
Viola ‘Spanish’
Violincello ‘Christina’
In addition, Oldham had recently acquired another Stradivarius ‘Tuscan’, which he wished to be sold for £3,500. If that sum could not be reached, it must not be sold for less than 3,000 guineas. If it was still not sold, then it was to be added to his collection at the British Museum. It is pleasant to record that he left his friend and violin master, William Antonius Baker, the sum of £200, his violin ‘Llandulphus’, and his entire music library.
Oldham left his violin made by the Amati brothers of Cremona to the Hon Mrs Laura Beatrice Bethell, of 18 Montpelier Crescent. In a codicil, Oldham left the same lady the sum of £600 to be invested as an annuity
As for seats of learning, Oldham left the following bequests:
Corpus Christi College, Oxford, £10,000 to be invested, and one-third used for prizes in classics. He also left £5,000 to be invested, and spent on encouraging the study of classical Greek and Latin with one annual scholarship or prize plus an annual prize or scholarship for the study of Shakespeare
University of Cambridge, £5,000 to be invested, and spent on encouraging the study of classical and Latin with one annual prize or scholarship, plus one annual prize or scholarship for the study of Shakespeare – it seems the Cambridge Shakespeare scholarship is still active to this day
Manchester Grammar School, £3,000, to be invested, and one-third to be used for prizes in classics, and scholarships. (It is interesting to note that it was his kinsman, Rt Revd Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter, who founded Manchester Grammar School. Oldham also had a brother who was a priest – the Venerable Archdeacon Algernon Langton Oldham – C. J. Oldham left him £10,000).
Medical School of Guy’s Hospital, £1,000 to be invested, and used as a prize each year to a 4th year student ‘who shall ably distinguish himself’ in Ophthalmology. The prize should be judged by paper, and orally too
Royal Academy of Music, £1,000 to finance violin scholarships
Oldham left £5,000 to the Royal Medical Benevolent College, London, and £1,000 to each of the following:
Actors Benevolent Fund, London
Sussex Eye Hospital, Queen’s Road, Brighton
Brighton, Hove and Preston Dispensary
Brighton & Sussex Medico Chirurgical Society
Brighton Sacred Harmonic Society
Oldham left £100 to his friend Arthur Nicholson of 30 Brunswick Square, and there were other bequests to friends.
After all his debts and legacies had been paid, the residue of his estate was to go to Manchester Grammar School, and Corpus Christi, Oxford.
Finally, he decreed ‘I hereby desire that as soon as conveniently may be after my death all letters in my possession singly or in packets shall be utterly destroyed by burning unread.’
(Information kindly supplied by A. G. Morris)
SPB Mais (1885-1975) He was a prolific writer who between 1916 and 1968 produced 104 books. His best know local book is Sussex (1929) while his novel Frolic Lady (1930) was set in Hove and Shoreham with particular reference to Hangleton Manor. While he was at Christ Church, Oxford he gained a blue for the three-mile race and a blue for cross-country running. In the 1920s he was employed on leading newspapers as a theatre and book critic and later became popular as a broadcaster and lecturer. In 1922 he took a flat at 22A First Avenue, Hove and moved in with his bride. They had two daughters, Imogen and Lalage. In 1927 the family moved to The Hall on Southwick Green where they lived until 1932. Other moves followed, to Shoreham, and to Derbyshire during the war, and to Oxford. But after some 20 years he returned to Sussex and lived at 38A Brunswick Square.

45 Brunswick Square
Earl of Cardigan (1797-1868) James Thomas Brudenell, who became the 7th Earl of Caridgan in 1837, was adored as a child by his parents and his seven sisters. He grew up to be tall with fair hair and blue eyes; he excelled in virile sports such as horsemanship and he was a crack shot, in fact a veritable young Adonis. However, his temperament was such that during his career he became embroiled in one controversy after another.

He commanded the 11th (Prince Albert’s Own) Hussars and made them into a crack regiment. He was obsessive about the quality and fit of the men’s uniforms, despatching them to his own Bond Street tailor and running up an annual bill of some £10,000, which he paid himself. The uniform consisted of a pair of crimson trousers and a short bottom-revealing jacket of royal blue bedecked with gold trimmings. A shako sporting a white plume completed the ensemble and the men were allowed to grow luxuriant moustaches. Not surprisingly, the sight of these strutting Hussars caused a sensation. Veterans deplored the sight and muttered they resembled a corps de ballet rather than a cavalry regiment; irreverent onlookers simply labelled them ‘Prince Albert’s cherry-bums’.
In 1840 the 11th Hussars were ordered to Brighton and while the men were quartered at Preston Barracks, Cardigan took a lease on 45 Brunswick Square. While in residence Lord and Lady Cardigan were accustomed to travel along the seafront road in an elegantly styled chariot with two liveried horsemen brining up the rear.

On 25th August 1840 the Cardigans gave a party and ball at the house and the regimental band provided the music. Among the guests were Mrs Cunynghame and her daughter Miss Cunynghame who were fashionable Brighton residents. One of the two ladies (it is not clear which one) pestered Cardigan as to why the Reynolds were not in attendance. Perhaps she did not know or else she was being mischievous but Cardigan could not stand either Captain JW Reynolds or Captain RA Reynolds. At length Cardigan retorted ‘as long as I live, they shall never enter my house’. The conversation was duly reported back to Captain RA Reynolds who asked Cardigan to refute it and when the latter refused the Captain issued a challenge to a dual. To accept such a challenge would be against military law and etiquette, while to refuse it raised the prospect of being thought a coward. When Captain Harvey Tuckett implied as much in a letter to the Morning Chronicle Cardigan promptly challenged him to a duel. This took place on 12th September 1840 on Wimbledon Common where Cardigan wounded Tuckett with one of his superb duelling pistols but did not kill him. However, the combatants were apprehended and Cardigan faced the death penalty. He was tried in the House of Lords in 1841 but escaped judgement because of a legal quibble. Captain RA Reynolds was cashiered but enjoyed enormous popularity, while Cardigan was booed in public.

Cardigan’s moment of glory came in the Crimean War. On the 25th October 1852 he lead the charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, which later inspired Tennyson’s famous poem. Cardigan rode into battle on his chestnut charger Ronald at the head of the 13th Light Dragoons and the 17th Lancers and they charged straight up the valley into the path of the Russian guns. It was a terrible mistake (a misunderstanding of orders between Lord Raglan and Lord Lucan) but people chose to remember the magnificent heroism. The gallant Six Hundred (to be accurate 673) lost a third of their men and 475 horses were killed. When the bugler of the 13th Light Dragoons sounded the muster after the charge, only fourteen men appeared out of a total of 150.   

copyright © J.Middleton
45 Brunswick Square
Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) He was born at 45 Brunswick Square where the family had been living since 1843 and which remained the family home for 40 years. He was the third son of Charles Carpenter RN, chairman of Hove Commissioners. He and his wife Sophia had a large family of ten children.  The 1851 census records them in the house; Charles was aged 53 and a lieutenant on half-pay plus being chairman of Brighton Magistrates’ Bench. His wife was aged 42 and their daughters were Sophia 16, Eliza 13, Emily 12, Ellen 11, Alice 4 and Julia one year while their sons were Charles 14, George 10, Edward 6 and Alfred aged three. There were eight servants.
Here is Carpenter’s description of life in the house. ‘Though a town-house is not a congenial nursery for a child, yet we were comparatively fortunate. There was a large space at the back, where we kept, in succession, endless pets, pigeons, seagulls with clipped wings, rabbits, tortoises, guinea-pigs and smaller fry (I was especially fond of an aquarium); while in front was the large garden of Brunswick Square, overrun, despite the efforts of the gardener and other authorities, by all the children of the surroundings houses. A fearfully active family, boys and girls, we kept a sort of proud superiority over the other children in running races, prisoner’s base etc, while inside the house, and for wet weather, we had a sport entirely of our own, and which consisted in one pursuing the others up the front stairs and down the back stairs or vice versa, with endless shrieks and uproar’. The family was fond of reading in the evening and his sisters would entertain them with music. At 10pm a servant brought in wine and biscuits after which they all retired for the night except for his father.

Carpenter thought the surroundings of Brighton bare and chilly, especially since trees did not exist there. The only compensation was the sea and the Downs. He enjoyed going down to the water’s edge at around 10 or 11pm in pitchy darkness, feeling his way with feet or hands over the stony beach, blown about by the wind, and watching the white breakers suddenly leap up and crash upon the shore. At home the sounds of the sea could still be heard clearly and during stormy weather the wind roared in the chimney. But the Downs were his favourite refuge and he wrote about them with a lyrical charm reminiscent of Richard Jefferies. He wrote ‘the Downs twined themselves with all my thoughts and speculations of that time’.

Carpenter was educated at Brighton College from 1854 to 1863 and went up to Trinity College, Cambridge where he became 10th Wrangler in 1868. He became a Fellow of the college and was ordained. But he grew to have serious doubts about religion; in 1874 he relinquished Holy Orders and resigned his fellowship. His mother died in 1881 and although his father had not taken much notice of her ministrations while she was alive, he certainly noticed the difference once she was dead. He went about muttering ‘the mainspring is broken’ and fifteen months later he died too. Carpenter moved back home to sort out his affairs as executor.
His unmarried sisters remained in Brunswick Square for a while before they moved to London and the house was sold in 1886. Carpenter felt quite strongly about the rights of women from an early age. He stated that the life of a young lady in the 1860s was tragic in its emptiness. There were six or seven servants to do everything about the house and his six sisters had absolutely nothing to do except dabble in paints and music. He thought it curious his father, who was quite advanced in his views on the whole, should never have contemplated the need of any of his daughters to be educated sufficiently to be able to do professional work.
The poet Shelley was an influence throughout his life and Carpenter took an interest in socialism He became convinced he ought to lead a more simple life and became a manual worker. Personal friends included William Morris, Walt Whitman in the United States, and Henry Fawcett, a blind man who was a famous statesman and also sympathetic to the rights of women.

Carpenter published a number of works including Towards Democracy: its Cause and Cure. The latter was produced when he was over 80 years old and the chapter entitled Modern Science was published in Russian with Leo Tolstoy writing the foreword. Carpenter wrote the song England Arise, the hymn of the labour movement, and he set to music Shelley’s song Men of England.
Today, Carpenter’s reputation stands high after decades of indifference. He is also regarded as something of a gay icon because he was an early advocate of sexual freedom. His anthology of male love Iolaus was re-printed in New York in 1982. Edward lived with his devoted partner George Merrill for many years and they are both buried at Guildford. Edward Carpenter died on 28th June 1929.

The Regency Town House, 13 Brunswick Square

Cooper & Lynn built this house and they were also responsible for numbers 9 and 10. Charles Lynn still owned the house when he died in 1829 and in July of that year the house advertised for sale. The house was described as containing two handsome drawing rooms, separated by folding doors, richly ornamented with cornices and costly marble statuary chimney-pieces.

Part of the original scheme of decoration was a stained glass panel in the lobby of the entrance hall. It contained an enormous stylised flower consisting of sixteen white petals with a central roundel of orange, yellow and blue, the colours being repeated in the outer circle. It must have been an arresting sight, particularly with the green paint originally used on the walls. The person who commissioned the décor was obviously fond of colour for the dining room walls were a deep lilac. It was a colour popular in the 1820s and 1830s and thought to aid digestion. On the same floor as the dining room was the library but here the colour scheme was more restrained with the walls painted to resemble wood panelling, possibly oak. This served as a pleasing counterpoint to the rich, leather bindings of the books. This décor dated back to the earliest occupation of the house.

Richard Kepp was the occupant in 1862 and he was a Brunswick Square Commissioner. In 1870 the premises contained two households; one headed by Richard Kepp, and the other by Mrs Wardell. Both in 1871 and 1891 the heads of household were absent on census night, leaving two female domestics in charge. In 1881 Phoebe Wardell, a 82-year old widow, still lived in the house with three female servants but Richard Kepp had gone by then. During World War II the housekeeper grew tobacco plants in window boxes. The owner and his family knew but kept the secret.

In 1984 Nick Tyson and Margrit Bass purchased a flat in the house for £18,000. They met at Sussex University where Tyson was studying molecular biology and Bass, an American, was studying English Literature. They entertained the idea of restoring the house to its original grandeur and opening it to the public. But first of all they had to buy the other flats into which the house had been divided. They managed to do this gradually with a bank loan of £260,000. Originally, they had understood they would receive backing from English Heritage but were told they could not apply for grant aid until the various leases and complications were sorted out and they were the sole owners. When this had been accomplished, they were astonished when English Heritage informed them they did not give retrospective grants.

In the 1990s an opportunity arose to purchase the basement of 10 Brunswick Square. People were excited about the possibilities because it was a rare example of the kitchen and servants’ quarters and remarkably untouched. For example, there were the original wooden, built-in storage cupboards plus two walk-in safes where game and meat was once hung from metal hooks. There were also the wine and coal cellars. The development company owning the flat were agreeable to the offer but stipulated the purchase price must be raised within three months. Then followed a public appeal, which raised £14,000, and formed the basis for a bid to the Lottery Fund. Eventually in 1995 the £38,000 was raised with help from the Lottery Fund.
In 1997 the Regency Town House won prize money of £3,700 as a prestigious European Heritage Days award, the only one for this country and one of only six made that years.

On 26th September 1999 Nick Tyson appeared on the TV Heritage programme to talk about his work. In February 2000 it was stated the project had received a grant to complete the refurbishment of the formal rooms. Tyson appealed to Brunswick Square residents asking for the right to copy any original features surviving in situ. An original ceiling rose was located at number 54; it was studied and measured and a copy produced for the dining room.

In March 2001 there was controversy when Tyson installed cream-coloured shutters on the windows, maintaining they had been an original feature designed to protect fragile glass from storm damage. However, the honorary secretary of a local amenity society pointed out that Tyson’s own research revealed the original shutters would have been painted green and moreover he had installed them without planning permission. In September 2001 Tyson said when the next painting year came round he would paint the shutters Antwerp green.  

Nick Tyson and his team have also become involved in producing digital records of the Brunswick area and making digital copies of rare and valuable books. One such book was written by Charles Augustin Busby and depicts his architectural ideas for country houses and their interior decoration. It was published before he had anything to do with Brunswick Town but it is of great interest nevertheless. There are only three known copies in existence and the Heritage Lottery Fund donated money so that the book could be purchased.
The team have transcribed letters written by the Bevan and Dewar families. (The Bevans lived at 17 Brunswick Square). In March 2009 it was stated it had taken years to transcribe and photograph each document and to create a specialist website. Several years ago Patrick Baty, a descendant of the Bevan family, donated the letters to the Regency Town House Heritage Centre.

The project MyHouseMyStreet won an award from the Heritage Lottery Fund and contains historical data relating to twenty local streets; census records and directories are also on line. Every September on Heritage Open Days under Brighton & Hove Open Door, entry to the house is free. The house is open to specialist tours all through the year while there are public tours from spring to autumn.
In February 2011 it was announced that a coloured drawing by CA Busby of a town house on the north-east side of Brunswick Square had been sold at auction for £6,000. The Brunswick Charitable Trust purchased it on behalf of The Regency Town House and American Express had chipped in with a donation of £2,500.

By 1990 the project was in jeopardy with the bank pressing for a reduction in their overdraft. Hove Council agreed to put £10,000 into the house with the possibility of more at a later stage. By May 1991 East Sussex County Council, the Civic Trust, the Georgian Group, the Sussex Heritage Trust and TVS Trust were also supporting the project. During the Brighton Festival some 250 people visited the house and help continued to arrive from a variety of sources; Prontaprint produced leaflets, British Telecom provided an answering machine, David Swift of Swift’s Decorators offered to paint the outside façade while Johnstone Paints provided the paint free. The architect Anthony Buckwell also offered his services.
As can be gauged from the foregoing, there was a great deal of enthusiasm locally for the restoration of the Regency Town House. People expected it to be restored to its original state on lines similar to the Georgian Town House at Bath. But progress was painstakingly slow due to funding restraints.
An essential task was to save the building from collapse by inserting steel rods and renovating crumbling walls. The five roofs were re-slated using copper nails to secure the slates and the chimneys rebuilt. Some windows were replaced and lintels restored while more prosaic work like re-wiring and a new water system were undertaken.

Regency Basement – 10 Brunswick Square

An interesting report called Regency Basement by Cara Courage, was published in Viva Brighton 57. November 2017.

The restoration of the basement is a long and painstaking task for Nick Tyson and his volunteers. The basement suffered from 26 years of dereliction and the first task was to ensure pigeons could not gain access anymore, and to remove all evidence of their occupation.

Authenticity is the keyword; for example the sanding of the house-keeper’s room was done according to an early 19th century technique using a block of wood and plenty of sand. It is hoped that appropriate door-handles and locks for this room can be found. Suitable furnishing has been installed and visitors can now begin to imagine the life that went on below stairs.

In the outdoor courtyard, the ice larder has been fully restored, and always arouses much interest. Wooden flooring has been installed throughout, while woodwork has been painted by hand to create an oak-grain effect. The reconstruction of the kitchen skylight was a major undertaking. Next on the restoration list is the re-instatement of a window in the servants’ hall, and the installation of balustrades and the painting of the staircase.

The Sickert Connection

Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942)

He became a famous artist who was born in Munich of a Danish father and an English/Irish mother. He was a pupil of Whistler, and a founder member of the Camden Town Group in 1911 along with Hove-born Robert Bevan who also had family connections with Brunswick Square. Sickert’s first visit to Brighton was in 1913, and that was because the Camden Group were holding an exhibition there. During August and September 1915 Sickert was staying with his friend Walter Taylor in his house in Brunswick Square. One result of this visit was an oil painting entitled Brighton Pierrots, which was exhibited in 1995/96 at the Brighton Revealed exhibition. Another exhibit was Sickert’s The Front at Hove painted in 1930; this work was sub-titled Senex Miles Turpe Senilis Amor – a quotation from Ovid meaning ‘an old soldier is a wretched thing, so is senile love’. The painting shows Adelaide Crescent in the background, and he painted himself seated on a bench in the foreground. There is a female figure next to him – most probably his third wife Therese Lessore whom he married in 1926. (Sickert married his first wife Ellen Cobden in 1885 and they divorced in 1889; he married his second wife Christine in 1917 and she died in 1920.)

Sickert’s most famous pupil was Winston Churchill to whom he taught the art of drawing. But it was an uphill task because Churchill was so impatient to progress to using colour. Walter Taylor was a good friend to Sickert, and he purchased many of his paintings. Taylor’s house became a favourite weekend retreat for the Sickerts.

Walter Taylor (1860-1943)

Taylor was born in Leeds. He went on to study architecture at first, but after a memorable visit to Paris, he decided to change tack and took up painting instead. He had the good fortune not to have to earn a living, and his private income enabled him to travel extensively, both on the continent and in Britain. His paintings were no amateurish daubs either, and his style was simple but effective. Moreover professional artists admired his watercolours. His favourite paper was a slightly ribbed pre-war Michallet, created from linen rags. Taylor liked to dress in an elegant style, and Marjorie Lilly wrote perceptively that while the rest of his circle were merely clothed ‘Taylor was attired’. Taylor’s marriage was heartbreakingly brief because his wife died on their honeymoon. It was a great tragedy for him, but he kept it strictly private, never spoke of her, and there were no photographs of her on display. Taylor first met Sickert in Sickert’s studio, and he liked what he saw so much that he had no hesitation in buying six paintings straight away.

Taylor moved to Hove in 1910 but he continued to maintain his studio in Oxford Square, London. There is a delightful painting by Walter Taylor in Hove Museum entitled Interior, Brunswick Square c.1920 that shows a sun-lit room with tall windows and chintz-style drapes, comfortable chairs, a heavy, round table in the centre, and the hint of at least eleven works of art on the walls.

Sir Osbert Sitwell wrote that Sickert often spent holidays with his friend Taylor and he has left us a vivid description of Taylor with ‘his red face … his prominent nose, slow movements, leisurely gait, and with a little of the air of a seaside dandy’. Taylor also appeared to be much older than his age and was referred to as ‘Old Taylor’ although Sickert and he were contemporaries. Unfortunately, by the 1930s for whatever reasons, the friendship between the two men had cooled.

Taylor had other artistic friends including Jacob Epstein, Douglas Fox Pitt, and Spencer Gore.

Frederick Spencer Gore (1878-1914)

He was elected president of the Camden Town Group in 1911. He and his wife spent a week at Taylor’s house in Brunswick Square in 1914, and it is said that Gore’s paintings Brighton Pier and The West Pier, Brighton were painted from the balcony of this house. Taylor became godfather to their son. Gore died in 1914 of pneumonia brought on by being caught out in the rain whilst painting.

Brunswick Square Commissioners

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east side of Brunswick Square
They were a body of 21 men responsible for the government of Brunswick Square under the Act of 1830. The first Commissioners included the Revd Thomas Scutt (freeholder of much of the property involved) Sir George Augustus Westphal, George Basevi, Charles Augustin Busby, and John Round. In order to become a Commissioner a man needed to have a high property qualification, that is he had to own freeholds or leaseholds on the estate worth £1,500 or to the value of £100 a year. The affairs of the estate were therefore in the hands of the wealthiest residents. During the 43 years of its life (1830-1873) some 132 men served as Brunswick Square Commissioners. Out of this number at least 21 were Justices of the Peace, and officers of the Army and Navy were well represented. An interesting sidelight is the number of Anglican clergymen (sixteen) who took an active part although they were not allowed to become town councillors until 1927. There were also three Jewish Commissioners including Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid and David Salomons. The Commissioners were responsible for all aspects of running the estate from the layout, maintenance and cleansing of roads to the removal of refuse and the provision of street lighting, water and drainage. They had to ensure gardens were maintained and houses painted as stipulated. Until 1858 they were also responsible for police and fire service.

The Hove Improvement Act was passed in 1851 and this extended the jurisdiction of the Brunswick Square Commissioners west to St John’s Road and northwards to cure the anomaly of Brunswick Place, north of Western Road, being outside their sphere of influence. The Act led to ten more Commissioners being added to their number and the property qualification was reduced so that a prospective Commissioner only needed to have property worth £1,000 or of the value of £70 a year.

In the 1860s one of the Commissioners was Frederick Besley. In 1861 he lived at 4 Brunswick Terrace with his wife, four sons and a daughter but by 1867 he lived at 47 Brunswick Square. He became convinced he was about to be reduced to poverty and in 1867 committed suicide by cutting his throat in a plantation near Goldstone Bottom. A gardener found him and his body was conveyed to the Black Lion, Patcham, where an inquest was held. Evidence was heard that he was in fact worth £60,000.

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