2016 Winter-Spring Newsletter

 Kemp Town Society

 c/o 4 Sussex Square Brighton BN2 1FJ

Company limited by Guarantee No. 7734051

Registered Charity No. 1146155




Welcoming the new Co-opted members to  the Kemp Town Society Committee!             

Chairman                                                          Paul Phillips

Vice Chairman + Deputy CAG Rep             Simon Smith

Treasurer                                                          Keith Paulin                (Co-opted)

Hon Secretary + Planning/                          Jill Sewell

Blue Plaque Representative                                “

CAG Representative                                      Derek de Young

Membership Secretary                                  Zoe Woodward   (Co-opted)

‘Who’s Been Living in My House’               Vanessa Minns

Charities Commission Monitor                   Vaughan Rees OBE

Minutes Secretary                                           Jayne Paulin                (Co-opted)

Newsletter Editor                                            Ann Wroe                   (Co-opted)

Garden Party Organiser                                 Ann Wroe

Fund Raising Events Organiser               Post Vacant                                                                                                                                     (Volunteers invited)

(The committee may co-opt members prior to their election at the AGM)

Joan Griffiths – Former Committee Member

Joan stepped down from her many duties on 31 December 2015.  After moving to 4 Sussex Square in 2004 she promptly joined the KTS , and the next year she was invited onto the Committee under the Chairmanship of Derek Granger.  Since then Joan has energetically supported the Society and its aims: mainly as Treasurer, keeping the books in fine order for the Committee and our accountants, which will be a hard act to follow.  Her willingness to help out whenever she was called upon was invaluable.  She has organised Fund Raising Events and frequently acted as Membership Secretary with all that that entails. Her speedy production and distribution of the newsletter, delivering copies on foot to all the members in the BN2 and BN1 areas, is now legendary.  Few can keep up with her many contributions, conducted with smiles and vigour.  The Committee and, if I may add, the membership at large, express our deep gratitude for everything she has done to benefit us all.  Joan will now be directing her energies to walking in Europe and the UK as well as absorbing their arts and history – but we hope she will make the trip to Kemp Town to visit us in between.

Paul Phillips 


Royal Sussex County Hospital:

The Hospital Liaison Group confirmed in November that preparation work would continue in the spring, with building starting in earnest in autumn 2016. The really good news is that the prefabricated sections will be brought in from the west, along Eastern Road, unloaded at the site, continue east along Eastern Road empty; they will then return along Marine Parade, having turned right at the Wilson Road traffic lights and through the Marina underpass.  The traffic noise and dirt will no doubt be horrendous, but at least the fragile structure of the Kemp Town Estate houses and the Enclosures Tunnel will not suffer the vibration damage likely from 40-tonne lorries passing every ten minutes over many months.

Jill Sewell

Kemp Town Enclosures: Southern Railings Update

The first tranche of the levy to fund the completion of the southern railings was sent out in mid October, and I’m pleased to report that generally there has been a positive response. The initial levy has been for £600 per house to raise approximately £60,000. There will be a second levy in April, the amount of which will be decided in light of the final cost of the work and any further donations. It is hoped that the work to erect the railings will begin in July or August. The seafront railings, curved returns and pillars are all to be in traditional cast iron, a highly durable material that has graced the fronts of all of the houses on the estate for almost 200 years. This will complete a programme that has spanned many decades and individuals­. The land was once taken for possible road widening, then returned to the Enclosures from the Council; the cast-iron railings were taken for the war effort, then re-instated on Chichester and Arundel Terraces, and are now about to reappear on the southern boundary of the Enclosures.  This will enhance the whole Estate, rectifying some of the damage done to its heritage in the past.

Brian Horton

Public Forum on Seafront Planning Issues

The Regency Society organised and chaired a public forum at City College on 6 Jan to consider proposed developments on the 4.5 miles of seafront from the Marina to Shoreham. The size of the audience, some 200, was a measure of the public engagement with these developments.

Urban Designer Michael Doyle spoke of Brighton’s uniqueness as the only English city with its centre on the seafront. Nick Lomax of LCE Architects shared some striking visions for a brave new future, including a monorail link from Black Rock to St Alfred’s, a major art gallery and a new two-tier West Pier, as well as questioning the future of the Volks Railway. Nick Hibberd and Gill Mitchell from the BHCC spoke in general terms about funding and business partnerships. All speakers emphasised the need for and current lack of an overall plan for the entire seafront but more specifically and of great interest to Kemp Town residents, they revealed that the £500 million project to place a conference centre on the Black Rock site is integral to the seafront development programme.

A question from Paul Phillips elicited the information that out of an annual City budget of 7.5 million, less than £100,000 was available for conservation and maintenance of heritage material.

Time constraints prevented much discussion of the wisdom of moving the existing Conference Centre to the East, with all the associated logistical issues, but it hoped that the KTS can themselves convene a similarly informative forum later in the year with this vital planning issue as its focus.

                                                                                                                                             Simon Smith

Who’s been Living in My House?

Our website for house histories, “Who’s been Living in My House?, reached through www.kemptown-society.org.UK , is going from strength to strength. As of mid-December  we have had just under 1,000 visits, so we can infer that people are coming back for another look. And well they might! We now have about 45 fully illustrated house histories; and on the Estate page, in the Further Reading section, several articles giving comprehensive background to life on the Estate. Themes include the World Wars, Social Connections and Education; articles on Services, Servants and Horses are about to appear.                                                     Special thanks to Andrew Doig for some great contributions. 

And you can join in!  If you’ve got a ballroom, a Cubitt plaque or a Victorian drain in your house we want to know! Have you done some delving and researched some of the residents in your house? Use the Contact Us button on the site and tell us about it.

The pieces below are extracts from our House Histories. Look them up on the site, read them in their entirety – and have a browse around.

Vanessa Minns

Extract from No 4 Sussex Square

Patrick Kinna moved into Flat 3, No 4 Sussex Square in 1972. He was the confidential clerk to the Duke of Windsor (later Edward VIII) in the 1930s and, from 1940 to 1945, confidential assistant to Winston Churchill, always at his side at the very centre of world events. Tiny, neat, bespectacled and an all-England champion at shorthand (150wpm) and typing (90 wpm), he was also completely discreet while in his job.  “I used to be afraid to go out’, he said once, “in case I let something slip”.  But he had wonderful stories to tell in later years.  He took dictation from Churchill while the leader was naked in the bath; he had to stop the sailors whistling, which Churchill hated, when the PM crossed the Atlantic; and at Yalta was about to take down a furious telegram from him, calling Stalin “terrible … evil and dreadful”, when they were both reminded that the room was bugged and Stalin could hear every word they said.

Extract from No 16 Lewes Crescent

Samuel Courtauld, the driving force behind the growth of the Courtauld textile business in the 19th century, had a seaside house here on the Kemp Town Estate. His three silk mills in Essex, employed more than 2,000 people making the black silk crepe favoured for Victorian mourning dress. He bought 16 Lewes Crescent as his seaside home. The house had stood as an empty carcase for more than 20 years after Thomas Goodall took the building plot from Thomas Kemp and built the structure in 1830. Samuel Courtauld took over the house in carcase and completed its fitting out by 1853. It was first occupied 24 years after the façade was erected as part of Kemp’s grand scheme.

The house was one of the great palaces of the estate along with those of the Duke of Devonshire at No.1 Lewes Crescent, the Marquis of Bristol at 19-20 Sussex Square and Lawrence and Lady Jane Peel at 32 Sussex Square. Courtauld had become a very wealthy man but his politics were liberal and while he would have had much in common with the Whig Duke of Devonshire, his other grand neighbours, the Marquis of Bristol and the Peels were staunch Tories. He supported the cause of parliamentary reform, finally achieved in the Great Reform Bill of 1832 and the repeal of the Corn Laws achieved in 1846, all in the face of strong opposition from the Tories.

Andrew Doig


Volunteers are still urgently needed to join the Committee for Fund Raising Events

Could you organise just one event a year – an autumn outing to Glyndebourne, a summer trip to the theatre at Chichester , perhaps an occasional lunch at Busby & Wild’s, or even an idea of your own?

All these fund raising events are very popular with members, but unless someone steps up, they will not happen.  Initial offers of help please contact Joan on joan@rottingdean.me to get an idea of the procedures.

In the meantime …..  here are some ‘outside’ lectures selected by Joan that may be of interest to you :

Tuesday lectures at the Friends Meeting House, Ship Street, admission £1.50  2.30 – 3.30 pm (tea & cakes available after the talk)

Tues 26 Jan.       ‘Georgian England and its Architecture’: illustrated talk by Martin Knott (St Wulfran’s organist and a very witty, knowledgeable chap! AW) and on:

Tues 8 Mar.      ‘Beside the Seaside: Brighton’s Place & People’ by Terry Philpot

Thurs 25 Feb   Organised by Hove Civic Society 2.30 pm at The Courtland Hotel, 19-27 The Drive. £3 Bill McNaught gives a talk on Thomas Cochrane – Master and Commander

Tues 1 Mar       Dr. Sue Berry will give a talk on ‘Furnishing & Decorating a Large Late-Tudor House’ £5.00; 10.45 am at Brighthelm Centre, North Road on behalf of Brighton & Hove NADFAS

Tues 9 Mar.  The Regency Society presents the Antony Dale lecture on ‘The Relevance of Classical Architecture in Today’s World’ by Quinlan Terry (£12 admission).   7.00 pm in the Music Room, Brighton Pavilion.   Booking through: regencysociety.org

Web 10 Mar    Prof. Stephen Adutt is giving a talk at 7.00 pm on ‘The Language of Architectural Drawing’  as part of the Regency Society‘s series of lectures, held at City College Pelham Street, Brighton.

Thurs 24 Mar.  Dr Geoffrey Mead’s talk ‘Way Up West – Hove’s Housing History’ will compare Brighton’s 18th and 19th Century’s development with the more modern form in Hove. Organised by Hove Civic Society 2.30 pm at The Courtland Hotel, 19-27 The Drive. £3

Dr. Sue Berry has advised me that the Sussex Archaeological Society is holding a day conference entitled ‘The Age of Luxury: the Georgian Country House and its Setting, c1700-1820’ on Sat 15 Oct at King’s Church Lewes starting at 10.00 am with  specialist speakers.  The cost is £45 which includes all the refreshments.  Booking details can be obtained at https://sussexpast.co.uk/event/luxury or telephone: 01273 405737                                                                                                                                              Joan Griffiths

KTS Dates for your Diary

The Kemp Town Society Annual General Meeting

We are awaiting confirmation from the NEW local venue for the AGM with the date 7th May 2016. Full details will be announced, along with the Notice, Minutes of last meeting and  Audited Accounts for 2015 will be enclosed with the next newsletter in April.

Look out for the earlier Notice of the AGM details on the Website!

The Kemp Town Society Annual Garden Party 2016 will be held on Saturday 18 June from 12 noon to 4 pm in the Kemp Town Enclosures North Garden 

Full details in the next newsletter, but just to inspire you, the theme will be ‘The Roaring Twenties’ – – extending to the 30s and “Brideshead Revisited”.  Bears optional!

The deadline for copy for the next newsletter is Thursday 7 April 2016.  All snippets and contributions considered!  Please send to me at annwroe@economist.com  Thank you, Ann

Editor: Ann Wroe        Typing and formatting: Joan Griffiths


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