Thomas Read Kemp
Lectures given by Dr. Sue Berry, Michael Osborne and Prof. Stephen Adutt at the Thomas Kemp day in 2010 transcribed from recordings made at the time.
The photographs accompanying these talks are not currently available -so they have to be imagined in the interim.
TALK 1: “Thomas Read Kemp, M.P., Preacher and Gentleman Developer”
Dr. Sue Berry St. George’s Church, Kemp Town 25th September 2010
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, the first trick of the act is not to fall over any of the wiring. I think I’ve managed that bit.
We’re going to be looking at Kemp in two ways. I’m going to look at his development into a business man, his social background and some of the other things he got up to and then Mike at the front here is going to look particularly at Kemp Town. We decided to split the two. We felt that that would work better.
Now he comes from a family on the make, on the rise, his father was MP for Lewes, his father was also a dealer in wool and he marries a member of the Read family from the Kent borders and they’re graziers so it is a prosperous family with ambitions. The parallel to this type of family are the many wealthier families of an earlier generation in Wiltshire and round there who made their income out of wool and similar activities.
The Kemps were very lucky. They were well connected in this area and through that inherited land, particularly from the Friend family who owned a lot of land in Brighton. So that’s how they got their paws on that. They also inherited Lewes Castle: The good news is you’ve inherited a castle. The bad news is it is a ruined one. By the time they inherited it it wasn’t in a very good condition but they also inherited land around the castle as well and one might like to think that the connection between the aspiration to be an MP and the inheritance of this land to add to what they already owned in Lewes linked together quite well.
PIC 1. Thomas Read Kemp is, at heart, in many ways a Lewes man. That’s where his political base is; that’s where he does what all good Georgians did, which is to get the electorate to vote for him with the usual drunken bribery that went on. So that gives you a bit of background. PIC2
Thomas and Ann have great aspirations for their son and he is sent off for a good education. Thomas is sent to school in London, where goes to Westminster School, then he goes on to Cambridge. So this is a gentleman’s education. Westminster School then was a school many other landowners sent their children to. He was probably a little bit older than another well-known schoolboy at Westminster which is Thomas Pelham of Stanmer Park who didn’t enjoy it very much and always beseeched that he could go home to Stanmer every holiday.
The family clearly had it in mind that he was going to marry well at the end of this because they put a lot of resources into this education. From Westminster off he goes to Cambridge and there he does, in a way, a general degree with Classics, etc. in it. I’d have thought he probably did Theology but I have been put right by Mike, that he couldn’t have done. And having done that the big question is, what do you do next with your young man? He is not yet ready to inherit so what do you do with him after that? So you send him to London and he studies law. So this is a very typical background for a young gentleman of the period. And then, after that,- this is beginning to sound very Jane Austenish isn’t it, yes ? – the next thing you need is a good marriage. You do, you need a good marriage and it appears that, probably at Cambridge, he encountered the Barings, the bankers, and in due course he marries Frances Baring, one of the daughters. So he marries into a banking family. He is not unique in this area doing that. The Gages of Firle one of the daughters married a Simion, he was in banking and I can think of two or three others where you have that sort of link which puts you in the interesting position that you have land in Brighton, you have a young man with a gentry lifestyle because they buy Herstmonceaux Place for the newlyweds to live in, right up by Herstmonceaux Castle. So you’ve got everything going there. But this family doesn’t have a political income and so he’s got to have some other form of income. So the next thing they have to think about is where are the income streams going to come from to sustain the lifestyle. Frances has a good settlement and this is the beginning of the thinking about development.
Now if you go to Lewes and you know the Castle you probably know Barbican House which is nearby where the Museum of the Sussex Archaeological Society is. That’s the area of land that they had. PIC 3. This is Coneyburgh to which Thomas and Ann moved out, having felt that it was time to start a gentry lifestyle. Coneyburgh is up at Barcombe. It is now demolished. PIC 4 *This particular one is demolished. Interestingly like many people who go to these houses, they rent. He doesn’t buy he rents. It was much more common in this period than you might imagine. Some people do it because they are not sure where they want to live. Others do it because they want the lifestyle but they don’t want the responsibilities and if you can rent a house, garden and 40 acres for £124 certainly in modern money that would be very tempting, wouldn’t it? That’s the sort of rental they were paying. The house was probably towards the end of its life because it was demolished in 1816. The next one then caught fire so it probably wasn’t a good place to build a country house.
So gentry lifestyle is sort of breaking Thomas in, PIC 5 then off to Westminster and at Westminster he is given an education. Now people like me with terrible concentration imagine being tutored, one class, two classes, three classes, four classes,* just imagine being taught like that! He then goes off and PIC 6 this is the accommodation at Westminster -. thank you to Mike for the illustrations – a bit basic shall we say? You can see why the kids implored to come home for the holidays can’t you? No privacy, no real comforts. It was not unusual to lose your son and heir to mysterious disease whilst at school. Now you see that you know why.
He then went off, as I said, to learn law and he stayed in this rather classy building by Holland The Albany. It is still there. And he had a really enjoyable time, one would think, in London and he then has this question of what to do when he inherits his land. PIC 7* Now this looks a little bit like knitting here but this is the old open fields system, the arable area here, the five Laines. This is Black Rock Down and those of you who came walking this morning walked all over that. Over here you’ve got East Laine, Queens Park is about there and Montpelier is over here in that area and the London Road development runs up here, that Kemp gets involved in. But when they inherited the land a lot of the arable is in strips with everybody else’s in this area and Thomas Senior starts to enclose by agreement and gets cracking with turning some of West Laine here into freehold fields and that enables Thomas Read Kemp to get on with building.
They also do some exchanges over here on this side. Now the other thing that Thomas does, Thomas Senior, is to build one or two lodging houses. PIC 8 There it is in glorious colour and you can see how complicated the land ownership was and you can see over here the beginning of enclosed fields which explains places like Bedford Square and Regency Square which you all know on that side of town. PIC 9 And this is, I’m not going to bore you with this but I just want to make one point…. the holdings in Brighton were held in something called a yardland and yardlands gave you arable land in those fields and also an entitlement to pasture animals on the surrounding pastoral area. These people all owned yardlands in the 1780s and in 1792. The main point I want to make here is that the Kemp family, first of all Thomas and then Thomas Read, dominated the land holdings and just to make it nice and difficult historically they were held by different manors, PIC 10 one, two, three, four manors – an absolute nightmare.
Thomas Kemp knew he had to get more holdings in order to increase his grasp of land and he bought some of them from Thomas Western of Preston Manor to try to increase that holding and this enabled Thomas Read, as we shall see, to get PIC 10 all of this enclosure organised all around there and down here and helps to explain the development we are now going to explore
So Thomas father lays the foundations at a time when the town is developing as a resort. Remember that Brighton was a flourishing seaside resort from the 1750s. I get quite murderous when I see copy written by marketing departments describing it as a fishing village that was turned into a seaside resort when the Prince of Wales arrived. Would a young man want to build a great big house next to a fishing village?
So it is a seaside resort to which the Prince of Wales comes and fortuitously, because he wants to come and stay he decides to use Thomas Kemp’s house and Thomas Kemp’s house is the basis of the Royal Pavilion and amongst the things that they did was sea-bathe on the coast and use the spa PIC12 at Wick? ….. and she’s just skulking away from the spa, beautifully dressed and looking as though she has been up to something but she’ s been to the spa.
PIC 13 Now this is the house over at Herstmonceaux which is designed, this side, by Wyatt, a well-known architect of the period who would have worked on the Royal Pavilion had he not died. He was going to be one of the architects for the Royal Pavilion and this is the building they lived in from 1807 onwards. At the same time they had a London house. Thomas more or less inherits his father’s post as MP, that’s what I mean about bribery and corruption in Lewes. When Dad dies dear old Thomas more or less takes over and he has this house in London.
PIC 14 Here are the Barings into which they married. This is another family on the up. They developed as Merchant Bankers as we all know but they began the business in Exeter and went on from there and then, of course, become well-known and titled but at a later stage. PIC 15 This is where he starts working, his Barbican House, the Castle, in which he had a chapel and this PIC 16 is the view along the High Street at the beginnings of Thomas’s ideas. That’s where Thomas Read met the Wilds, Amon and Henry, it is very confusing, you can’t always tell who did which and just to remind you that in Lewes on Mantel House PIC 17 you start to see the sorts of decorations that these people did. Bear in mind that builders very often designed in this period. We hear an awful lot about architects but far less about the very important local and regional builder architects, who if you asked them to run up a chapel, ran you up a chapel, run you up a house, yes sure we’ll do that, shops?, yes, a brewery, they built the brewery for the Tamplins, a classical style brewery which was later on replaced.
Now Thomas Read knows he’s got something very significant. He’s got part of the lordship of a manor which means that when he decides he is going to try organising everybody into enclosing land he can enfranchise it and make it freehold.and he set about doing that. PIC18 Sooner or later the lifestyle of these little chaps on the Downs of Brighton was going to come to an end because housing was much more profitable.
PIC 19. In 1822 – this map is produced from a Street Directory by Baxter very fortuitously – and here you see where he starts to develop over in Montpelier, and he also starts to develop down the London Road and this is just before he starts over here, we know that from the dates of Deeds, and he puts the Temple over here, which we will look at in a minute and his long-suffering sister also builds a Villa here and one or two other worthies that Kemp knew. This was intended to be a Villa development. He had a thing about villas. He put villas up on the London Road, some of which are still there, and he wanted villas in Queens Park. He thinks that a great idea. Meanwhile he goes off and has a slightly, one could say, “funny” phase like lots of wealthy men did. Yes, that’s something you can afford to do isn’t it?…. have a funny moment? Envy! envy! He decides that he is going to follow the Evangelist set that Harriet Baring, who became better known as Harriet Warr, was a leader of and becomes the Reverend Thomas Read along with the Reverend George Baring PIC20 and he starts to preach at his uncle’s chapel in St. James’s Street and he starts to preach in Lewes in his chapel he has built in Lewes By all accounts not a very good preacher, but there we go, he thought he’d have a go and Uncle Nathaniel doesn’t seem to be very keen on this and so young Thomas Read goes off and builds his own chapel in Ship Street.
The chapel in Lewes Castle goes in down by the Barbican and this is the view of the whole area before he civilises it a bit more. PIC 21 There’s what he built, the Wilds do it for him. Not the prettiest of buildings is it?…with this great, sort of, edifice. This is probably a very poor drawing but notice the portico, see the detail there. This was up and running with a heated floor in 1816. The Reverend George Bering does the main celebratory opening service and unfortunately Thomas Read gets bored with it, maybe the congregation was getting bored with him because he sells it on to Solicitor Faithful, who in turn sells it on to Anderson who refaces it. PIC22 Now this is interesting, take a look up there, take a look across here so it looks as though this facade was brought forward a bit but they still leave this on top. It’s still there. Do you know Fabrica (?), the flint fronted church there? That is Thomas Clarke’s refacing
Meanwhile he’s still got a London house. He’s still renting and he moves around in London and he has good experience of large estates. He knows very well the development at Regent’s Park and he knows about Belgravia where he has this place put up which is the Spanish Embassy now and looks nothing like this and this was designed by Kendal so we start to see the London links coming through. PIC 23 There it is, that’s the original design – nice size house. PIC 24 There’s the outside, there’s the inside. As I say, the Spanish Embassy has considerably altered it between the wars.
Now he still keeps this and why does he keep this and why does he spend resources over in Lewes? Because Brighton doesn’t have an MP. It doesn’t have one until the 1830s. So bear in mind that he is sort of developing links in the two towns all the time. PIC 25 I rather like this – this sandpit look.
Now Brighton he knows by the 1810s is in need of large houses. If you think of the Georgian houses in Brighton built in the 1750s onwards you will notice that most of them are tall, narrow, thin houses. You need proper entertainment palaces and Regency Square in 1818 is a start in that way. That’s being developed by a Londoner and also from that you get the development of Kemp Town and Brunswick, big, substantial houses. And those of you who saw the interiors of the two houses this morning will get the sense that they are designed to impress. PIC 26 Still seabathing and you can see this motley area isn’t really what you want if you are used to the great designs of London houses.
PIC 27 So he starts over here and he puts this in, the Dome, as it became sometimes known as, and more familiarly, the Temple. Different versions of it show different sort of images of how it was finished – done by the Wilds and he also encourages villas in the surrounding area. We know that Frances and eight children move in here in 1818. It’s an awful lot of kids – that is why you probably want a big house. PIC28 This is the mysterious staircase inside. Apparently that is where the main staircase originally was and this is later. Food for thought! A very strange house! It’s no surprise it has a very strange inside is it then? And amongst the best known is Lord Fauntleroy’s house. He was a banker, topically Vince Cable will be very pleased to hear that he was actually hung for his banking activities. Probably cheer him up enormously.
By the 1820s Kemp knows the Prince of Wales, he is a superb horseman, he hunts, he competes as a horseman, he is a Mason he is involved in various movements such as the Reform movement. He is pro-Reform – up to a point. He is pro-Reform even though he recognises he might lose control of his seat. And these links are very well when he starts to get involved with these projects in the 1820s He is both an investor in the Chain Pier PIC 29? and also with the Lord of the Manor of Brighton. The manor of Brighton gives access to the foreshore without which it couldn’t have been built. He knows it is going to give a good berth to the steam ferries that are important to Brighton because they go to Dieppe from 1815 onwards.
He gives land for St. Peter’s Church, PIC30?with spire as hoped for by Barry, but it wasn’t built and he gives land with the other freeholders of the pasture and open spaces, all of whom had agreed with him to enclose. He becomes the Treasurer for this church and, unfortunately, when they run into trouble over money he can’t find the account book. Now along with his other freeholders, post enclosure of all of this area, they start to lay out roads and walls. This doesn’t go down very well with some Brighton people who are sort of Regency dog walkers and assume they can wander where they want, so to speak, and take their children to play. There are complaints about the number of changes that are going on. But Kemp presses on and he gets on with three projects: Ireland’s Gardens, Brighton Park, and this. PIC31 This is in Commercial Garden which is put right up here above St. Peter’s Church. There it is, known as Ireland’s Gardens after the manager. Ireland was a bit of a pain. Kemp put in most of the capital for the landscaping. Ireland was terribly absent-minded when it came to paying up the rent and eventually they sent bailiffs in. This is a Wilds’ development, here Hanover Crescent which would have had this wonderful view of the gardens over there. There is St. Peter’s Church to give you your bearings.PIC32 Brighton Park here, now it is Queen’s Park, laid out from the start with the intention of having villas, Kemp again puts in the landscaping but eventually this was bought by Attree and Attree continues the villa idea but it never ever seems to work.
Now he then gets on with this which Mike’s going to talk about so I’m going to avoid it. All of the same sort of period. He puts this church here, PIC 33 this is St. George’s by Busby with this wonderful Greek look about it. It cost £11,000 and it acts as a landmark. As you come down Eastern Road down through there. This is a reminder that it is all Kemp land. The interior was with rented pews and up on the top there – the galleries. The back of it had a very big pulpit. This wasn’t here. This was much later. It was a preaching house so he put into here a very good preacher to ensure that it ran well and brought in income and Queen Adelaide came here. He gave land for the hospital, this is by Barry, open competition, and became one of the people on the Board. He meanwhile decides he doesn’t want to do preaching anymore. He goes off to Arundel and becomes MP and he acquires this house called Dale Park just to the West of Arundel. This is now no longer with us. He tires of this – he gets about a bit doesn’t he? – and he decides that he is going to sell up and he is going to go back to Lewes and he fights at Lewes and gets in.
Interestingly it is a banker who buys the house and the banker’s name is Cubitt who, of course, Kemp already knows. PIC34 Meanwhile, while Kemp is doing these various things, he has a good lawyer, wonderfully named Mr. Faithful, and he has Budgen who does a lot of his surveying work and then he has Mr. Harris as his later steward. They not only manage the selling and development here between them but, I suspect, Faithful is the person who negotiates all his enclosure work.
PIC35 Just to put this up. If you look there is no sign of Eastern Road and he has to buy up all these poor? pieces
All these long narrow strips otherwise he doesn’t get it through and he also develops in the area of the Church and has to buy those he doesn’t own here. It’s a long job and particularly when they start to hear that you are in the business of poor pieces the price goes up. So it made a lot of sense to build on his own freehold land.
He remarries in 1832 some years as you can see after the death of his first wife. He marries Frances Harvey who was Frances Shakely Kemp eventually and he announced he was going abroad for the sake of his health and they took their son and one daughter who was thought not to be very well and off they go on a sort of Grand Tour. They go down to Italy and come back to Paris. Bear in mind that there can’t be too many problems. Fanny Kemp is still in the Belgrave Square House, that is one of his daughters, in 1839 and the general sense is from the correspondence that has survived that they are enjoying themselves and they are living comfortably. There is no sign of poverty and she is a wealthy lady in her own right.
Now what happens here? Mike and I differ here. It is always fun to have a different view. Thomas Read Kemp has got the development well under way, mid 1820s, but Brighton like lots of other towns becomes overbuilt and a recession starts which gets quite a grip and he knows it gets quite a grip and he gets involved in the railway company. He is a very far sighted man and he is hoping later on to be able to sell land to them because they are obviously going to come through the north end of the parish to have a railway station.
Off he goes abroad and he has unsettled debts and this is where the story of the outlawing comes from. If people don’t settle debts what you can do is to declare them an “outlaw” in this period. Sounds a bit much. Sometimes even nowadays creditors must be sorely tempted when people won’t pay up. And there are wonderful stories of these notices being put up on the church door. The records and the National Archives show that they didn’t know these bills were being looked for and these declarations of outlawing are rescinded and everything is supposedly sorted out.
He is in difficulties in terms of cash flow but he does have plenty of land. In the 1830s and early 1840s the town has a recession. It is difficult to sell land – that is his problem. It is very difficult to sell the land and it becomes difficult to sell property. Property slows down. It is remarkably like the recession that we’ve come through where everybody goes “ooooh” and doesn’t want to spend money and the banks take a deep breath and start to wonder whether they need to call things in. It has a lot of characteristics of the current one.
However, bear this in mind, when he dies his second wife inherits over four hundred acres is that a poor man? It is not a poor man. It is a man that might be having difficulty with cash flow but he is certainly a man with a lot of assets, the very assets that he is setting out to develop.
She is very interesting. She decides that she is going to call in some of the cash and sort out some of his affairs and she seems to be one of the people behind the sales of land in the l840s. By the early 1850s the town is flourishing and a lot of his projects are being to be developed much more effectively and Montpelier becomes a very interesting development. Some more villas are being built up the London Road.
If it weren’t for him the big projects that are so much of the Brighton history now would never have been built. If he hadn’t done that enclosuring, if he hadn’t taken the risks he had, hadn’t had the rather idiosyncratic ideas about religion that he had for a bit as well, many of the things that are so interesting in this city would not have happened.
He is very intriguing as a person in his own right and he was clearly prepared to take huge risks and out of huge risks comes that legacy.
TALK 2: “Thomas Read Kemp – Evolution of a Developer”
Michael Osborne. Economist.
“Kemp Development and Architectural Design Today”
How do we explain the fact that Thomas Read Kemp (TRK) came to build the Kemp Town Estate?
The man that we have inherited from history could not possibly have built the Kemp Town Estate: the spendthrift playboy with little, if any, business acumen, pursued from these shores by his creditors in 1837. If that were not enough he ends his life in abject poverty; languishing in Paris with his body thrown into a paupers grave –one can hear the music of Puccini…. We will argue today that nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth.
The Kemps had a major family problem. It is actually quite a common problem at this time in the nineteenth century: they were asset rich but relatively cash poor.
You can see this if we move to our next slide.
This is a list of the property that had to be sold after the death of TRK’s father, Thomas Kemp. It was arranged that Thomas Kemp’s brother Nathaniel and Mr. Whitfield, who were trustees under the Will, would sell the property to settle debts/demands on the estate. This is the family that TRK was born into.
The family decided that TRK would have every opportunity to break out of the cycle of cash deficiency by, at least, starting with a good education. As a gentleman, he was to have the education of a ‘professional’. Most importantly he was sent off to Cambridge. Contrary to received opinion, he did not study theology, This was not possible; an undergraduate degree in theology was not offered until the latter part of the nineteenth century. He didn’t study Theology; he studied the Humanities. The Humanities at that time, as they were taught at the University of Cambridge, were very much a framework of thought to give a clear grounding in how to think analytically. Quite important for TRK who was to break the mould, to build a new business platform for his family. Having completed his first degree he came down to London to study law – critical for a property developer
The biggest issue, even today, for a man in property is a firm understanding of legal matters: trying to get the’ legalities’ right before you buy into something or start developing something. He went into the Inner Temple. He didn’t qualify as a barrister. He went to the dinners and so forth; he picked up a number of ideas about how he should operate as a property developer.
I am using this slide again [used already by Sue] because I want to emphasize how important this marriage was. This again is Sir Francis Baring Bart. Sir Francis came from exactly the same social background as TRK. His father was a wool-stapler in Exeter. TRK’s father was a wool-stapler in Lewes. They were not from different social classes. Sir Francis was a self-made man. During the Napoleonic wars he built the largest bank the world had ever seen. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, this man was the wealthiest commercial entity in the City of London According to de Tocqueville, during the latter part of the Napoleonic wars, Baring Brothers was the sixth great power after England, France, Austria, Prussia and Russia. You can see this is a pretty significant ‘commercial’ family.
TRK married Sir Francise’s favourite daughter, Frances, named after him. Would this man have allowed his favourite daughter to marry a complete idiot? I don’t think so. Would this young man from Lewes via Cambridge have been able to hoodwink this man? I don’t think so. This man was quite impressed with young Thomas and he agreed to give him, and his favourite daughter, a £20,000 marriage settlement. That is a significant sum of money – allowing for inflation, it is about £1.4m in today’s prices!
The Barings were financially very important for TRK. The three elder brothers of his wife provided finance as individuals, not as a bank. Merchant banks at this time were very much like our hedge funds of today. They were interested in short-term investments: very high risk but very, very high reward. They cornered the tallow market. You know the market for candles? They made a killing. When reading about our subject this summer, I was also reading about the chocolate market being cornered. What changes?
While TRK is in London his father dies. TRK is returned unopposed as MP for Lewes. He enters the House of Commons in 1811. This was to prove to be a critical date for TRK. John Nash presented his report to Parliament on the redevelopment of Marylebone Park. The leases were falling in which presented the Crown with a prime development opportunity just beyond the recently developed West End. Marylebone Park was immediately to the North of fashionable London. The Crown Estate, as we call it today, wanted to develop the area with a major new estate. This original scheme had 600 houses and I suspect that when our young TRK, sitting there at the age of 28, saw this he said to himself: “Eureka! I’ve found it. I know what to do. This is how I will solve the family problem.”
He then drifts off into his religious phase. Religion, for TRK, is about money. It is about making money; he teams up with George Baring. George, of course, was from the Baring family. George was a failed opium trader. They were trying to attract the young rich who were coming to Brighton for the Season. The local guidebooks extol the virtues of this wonderful piece of ‘architecture’ known as Trinity Chapel. The latest mastic had been used to stucco on the front of the building; mastic wasn’t used by John Nash until he covered the roofs of the Pavilion in 1819. This was 1817. TRK had a pulpit constructed that, again, the commentators raved about: it had 100 individual pieces of timber; it was the finest pulpit you could have seen. This is, without doubt, a young developer on his first development. Design is of the essence, Getting it right, getting your public to understand how important you can be in designing what they want to live in.
This print shows Queens Park in its original form as Brighton Park. This is a very important document to our understanding of TRK as a developer. This is the first time that he really tried to develop on a large scale in Brighton. He makes three fundamental mistakes. The land is owned by three people, Thomas Attree, Miguel and himself. He doesn’t buy out the other partners. He tries to do a deal with them, which involves compromise: he has to agree that he will limit the amount of money that he will put into the development. So he landscapes the park. Then he rents it to a Mr. Anderson, who is noted at the bottom, at a rent of £2000 a year; absolutely phenomenal! A young property developer – they are always a little over-ambitious!
He then makes the other fundamental mistake – he doesn’t build anything to show what is possible. He just lays out the planting and carriage drives to the ground plan. The fundamental mistake is that prospective purchasers cannot see what is to be built or how the ‘developer’s vision will translate into reality. The third mistake is that there is no means of direct access from the town to this site. There was no access from the coast road because he hadn’t bought out the other owners of land south of the Park.
So three fundamental mistakes: he would never repeat them again.
Moving back to the Terrier Map. The Terrier Map is a invaluable document for gaining an understanding of just how much of the town and the surrounding land, was owned by TRK: everything green belongs to TRK. He owns two-thirds of all the land in the area; the other people, therefore, unfortunately own a third. To develop in any of the areas, where the strips are not coloured green, he has to buy out the owners. The Brighton Park situation has just shown him that this is a high-risk strategy. The land to the right is Black Rock Down and his father, TK, bought out the Sackville interest on the death of the Duke of Dorset in 1808. It was obvious where the young man who had sat through the debate on the development of Marylebone Park was going to build. People have criticized him because he built a mile outside of Brighton but if you were going to build a new town on TRK’s land holding, where would you build?
This is a map of the Tenantry Down. The area depicted covers 630 acres. Kemp and six other people owned this land. TRK had to buy out the other owners if he was to be free to undertake large-scale development and to free up access to his Black Rock land. So he swaped land and agreed minor compensation with the other owners to end up with 400 of the 630 acres. This is the biggest property deal that Brighton had ever seen. No private developer has matched a land transaction on this scale since. The deal was done in 1822 just before the start of ‘Kemp Town’.
We now move to Regent’s Park. The Park was completed in about 1827. It had been developed in stages from about 1812 – nothing unusual given the vagaries of the market for finished property at the ‘upper end’. The address that TRK gave on the building lease that he entered into in 1825 with Thomas Cubitt and the Marquis of Westminster, was 4 Park Crescent. Looking to the image the big gap is Portland Place; it is still there today. The new road is now the Marylebone Road and on the other side is Park Square. This was finished in 1822. Kemp came back to London in 1823 when he is elected the MP for Arundel. I suspect this is where he rented a house. This is where the kernel of the idea lies for the layout of Kemp Town . But it doesn’t work, does it? This massive road in the form of Portland Place splits the Crescent; in addition the Crescent is split off from the Square by the large road that we now know as Marylebone Road.
So he has a Vitruvian moment – if I can try and do this. If you take the chest and then the upper arms you have the Square; take the lower arms you have the curve; take the hands you have the two Terraces. Vitruvius! You’ve got it! Exactly in line with the proportions of the body! That is how, I think, he designed Kemp Town. That is why it feels so comfortable; it works in a much better form than the initial idea that he picked up in Regent’s Park.
This is a picture produced by Ackerman in the mid 1820s and if we can switch to the other picture.
He lives at the house No. 4 looking straight across the Square.
TRK has the spatial layout for his Kemp Town development derived from a part of the Regent’s Park scheme but what of the overall design of the facades? The image shows the first time that a neo-Palladian facade, a palace facade, was used in a town scheme in England to hide the fact that there are individual houses in the block. The aristocracy, the super-rich of the time, didn’t want people to think they were living in terraced houses. This is how it was done in Bath. This is a north elevation of Queen’s Square. It was built by John Wood Senior in the 1730s. I think it is a remarkable piece of architecture. I have always loved it and I am sure that those of you who have visited Bath know and admire it as I do.
The first example of it in London is in Bedford Square. To me this really doesn’t work as well. This is the late 1770s through to the early 1780s. Again we have the palace facade but even the Duke of Bedford had trouble forcing the separate builders, who had purchased individual plots, to line up their rooflines and to achieve a proper palace facade. There are other examples in Regent’s Park but they are contemporaneous with Kemp Town
This is the north elevation of Sussex Square. What I’ve done here is to ask a colleague of mine, David Scowcroft, to go back and look at some late 19th century photographs of Sussex Square. This allows us to obtain a much better idea of the original detail of the design before the roof additions and other accretions. And this is what we have. I think that is quite a remarkable piece of architecture. It is a neo-Palladian palace façade: the central block breaks forward in a three and one symbolism (the matrix that has been referred to earlier); the two end blocks which form the pavilion; the balusters which attempt to hide the attic storey; the railings going through to emphasize the uniformity of the whole; the porticos, all of which are in the Doric order; the pilasters all of which are in the Corinthian order. This is straight out of Palladio. What a pity it is not there now! Anyhow that is another issue. Very interesting but who was the architect?
This is Eaton Square. The Cubitts developed Eaton Square. This drawing was produced by Thomas and Lewis Cubitt and is taken from a book that was published by Britton and Pugin ( Pugin of ‘The Pavilion at Brighton by Nash’ fame.). We know, it states in the left hand corner of the drawing that the’ architect’ was the two Cubitts. It is of exactly the same form as the central block of the northern terrace of Sussex Square. The breakfront occurs in exactly the same relationship to the whole; look at the pavilion, look at the fenestration, and look at the treatment of the porches and the treatment of the attic storey. Now it could argued that Eaton Square was a copy of Sussex Square but that may be going too far. But either Sussex Square or Eaton Square was a copy one of the other…well, hang on a moment! Sussex Square was built first – we know the original leases were let at the beginning of 1824. Eaton Square isn’t built until 1828. There is a debate to be had here; particularly when we note, from Hermione Hobhouse, that Lewis often provided the facades for his brothers developments without claiming/receiving attribution.
These are the railings that are there today. I apologize for the photograph – I was trying to avoid the security cameras. You can see that they are exactly the same railings as we saw this morning when we walked around the estate. No.14 Eaton Square. The northern elevation. The original facade is brick. This is another issue. A number of people argue that the facades in Sussex Square should be stucco, painted white. Nonsense! They were originally built as brick as indeed they were in this part of Eaton Square.
This is the door, exactly the same door that as originally used in Eaton Square and, indeed, it was first used in Grosvenor Crescent; based on the bronze doors of the Pantheon in Rome. This is from a book that was published in France at the end of the 17th century which clearly shows the ‘neo-classical’ source of the doors that remain, and actually most of them do, on the Kemp Town Estate. This is what they should look like. Again they are identical; again the influence of the Cubitts.
This is a very important document in many, senses. This is the original layout plan for the Kemp Town Estate and you see that there are 105 plots. The numbering runs from one, right the way through to 105. This shows the original layout and I think that it is fascinating. It permits answers to numerous questions. Was there a No 14 Chichester Terrace which was then combined with No. 1 Lewes Crescent? According to this story… No. There was only one building there No. 1 Lewes Crescent. 105 plots because at the top the two plots 53 and 54 are combined to form No. 25. Chichester House is off this plan and as Dale said it was not intended to be part of the original estate.
This is dated June 1824. This is the only document in existence signed by Charles Augustin Busby relating to Kemp Town. There is no other document relating to Kemp Town. Why? If he is the architect of the Kemp Town Estate, why is this the only document we have? From this document we might legitimately conclude that Busby fulfilled the role of surveyor to the estate. The surveyor normally prepares a ‘layout drawing’. The other key point to note is that the date on the document is June 1824
This is the image that everyone knows. This is October 1824. This is normally called “A developer’s puff”. This says “Look, if you don’t get in to one of these front buildings now, look at what we are going to do. When we finish the rest of the development the price is going through the stratosphere: you should come in and buy now.” This was produced in October 1824. The drawing I’ve just shown you, the layout drawing, from which the site will be built, was produced in June 1824. Well that’s what they intended to build. The famous image reproduced by the Brighton print dealer James Bruce, was what they wanted you to understand they were going to build. You read, and I think it is from Antony Dale, that the intention was to build 250 houses on the site but TRK ran out of money so he wasn’t able to finish it. I believe that TRK had no intention of building anything like that at the time. If he’d sold everything he might have gone on to develop further; but at the time he was building the Kemp Town Estate, this was not in his ‘expected outcome’. But this was exhibited in 1825 at the Royal Academy in London for all the fashionables to see how wonderful this development in Brighton was going to be.
This is a Busby drawing. This is of the Brunswick Town development. For me architecturally it doesn’t work. It doesn’t solve the key spatial problem with a Square of how do you get out without destroying one of the facades of the square. The solution at Kemp Town is decidedly more elegant.
This is a drawing in the hand of Charles Busby. It is called Portland Place, just before St George’s Church as approached from the West. Frankly it is a very poor architectural drawing. The detailing is not very fine. If you go over and look at what was built from the drawing you will see that it didn’t translate into a very handsome set of buildings. I just think that it does emphasize that at this period, Busby wasn’t quite up to what was expected to design and build Kemp Town as a West End of London development. To be fair, it is not the sort of development that Busby had been working on.
This is a Deed that was entered into by TRK and Mr. Wilkes. It is a drawing on the lease for the building of the mews that we all looked at this morning on the southern side of Eastern Road just past the newspaper kiosk. It shows the extraordinary detail that TRK insisted upon for every element of his estate. This is just a mews but it has to look correct. It would grace a fine Georgian house anywhere in the UK countryside. There would be no second rate architecture even for where the horses and carriages were going to be parked.
Now what I’ve done here is to annotate. I’m sorry. My colleague had left for holiday by then and so it is me with a pen! I’ve detailed how the various sites were sold as we go through time. We start in January 1824. TRK follows the precedence set by most landowners; TRK initially let the building plots on building leases with the option to buy a longer lease on completion. So on the right-hand side of the diagram, where we have the eastern part of the northern section of Sussex Square he lets nine plots to James Ingledrew. He then lets a further seven plots down at the bottom in Lewes Crescent, to him as well. This is in January 1824. The thirteen plots which are to form the northern terrace of Sussex Square, to be built as twelve’ houses’ he lets to Thomas Wyburn. They are all to be let on 99 year leases. The back block is let for £40 pounds a year on 99 year leases and the other elements are let for £30. In June he lets the western side of Sussex Square.
Everything is fine. Off we go: the builders will build the houses; TRK will eventually collect his rent; the classic model of property development. The economy of boom and bust intrudes to disrupt this very conservative development plan – as ever, the economics proves to be decidedly nonlinear. As we enter 1825 Ingledew descends into debt with his suppliers. He is forced to enter an agreement with his suppliers, which effectively means that he has to surrender the leases to them. The other problem is that he has borrowed substantial sums of money; £3000 odd from TRK to carry out the building works. Of the sixteen houses that Mr. Ingledew has at the beginning of 1825 eleven are transferred to Jeremiah Wimble who is a timber merchant in Lewes.
Mr. Wyburn follows suit and is in difficulties at the beginning of 1826. TRK has to buy back the thirteen plots at the rear, which are to form the northern terrace of the square. I don’t know the price – one suspects it was zero as the seller was somewhat forced. The trouble is we can’t as yet find the documents and this may be a point at which I can give a little plug. Most of this information comes from original documents. We are blessed with the East Sussex County Record Office where they have the most extraordinary records. They have a fabulous staff that has given me and, I know Sue for a far longer period than me, a fantastic amount of help. We really do need to keep them supplied with our documents to keep ESCRO going. None of this would be possible without them.
This is 1828. Remember his press: Nothing is selling this is a disaster. This is June 1828 and out of the 105 plots he has sold 52. Yes, he has sold 52 plots. He starts selling in 1826. You may have noticed in the newspapers the Candy and Candy development at One Knightsbridge. Do you remember in the spring of 2008 they had sold about 40 of the 80 flats, which average about £10.5 million each, and then they stopped. They stopped because the market went away. We’ll come on to the market in a minute. TRK managed to sell half the development in two years, not bad going. The blue, which I don’t know whether you can see at the top, is 21 and 22, which, is, where TRK lived; he lived in both of these houses. His sister lived at 23 and his sister-in-law, Harriet, with the Reverend Soper lived in No 25. There is a very unpleasant man in this story. His name is Henry Baring and that’s the house he buys, later. But at that time it is owned by Cubitt and we might come back to that.
These are the properties owned by Thomas Cubitt. He buys a total of 26 carcasses. He develops these carcasses and he finishes them off for sale. In Chichester Terrace he buys eleven plots. This is the one point where TRK made a mistake. He should not have sold those eleven plots to Thomas Cubitt because Thomas Cubitt didn’t build anything in TRK’s lifetime. It was the only part of the estate that wasn’t built during TRK’s lifetime. Cubitt was the biggest builder in the United Kingdom, with apparently unlimited resources His firm built everywhere from Bloomsbury through to Belgravia. He didn’t build this particular part of the estate because there wasn’t the demand for it.
This a print of 1837. This is the year when TRK leaves for Europe. The Estate has become very fashionable. This was his achievement before he left; the fashionables were all around him.
How are these houses built? Pretty cheaply and quickly. There are three principal materials: bungeroosh, timber and brick. And that’s it. The bungeroosh forms the main structure of the walls. The brick is used internally to make up the piers within which the bungeroosh is poured. You see the timber, obviously for the structure of the floors, studwork and roof. The facades have brick- expensive brick because it is facing brick. Therefore we know that it was not intended to stucco the facades; facing brick would not have been used as a base to apply stucco. The roof is covered in slate and the windows would have been glazed. That is it. It probably took about nine months to construct. They are very solid though. I have spent the last three years taking one apart and putting it back together again. There is only one that has ever fallen down and that was the one that caught fire. You can’t say that at the other end of town.
This is a typical layout of a house on the estate. This is the layout of TRK’s own principal family home, No 22. In the basement there is the housekeeper’s room; next to the housekeeper’s room the wine cellar; then the servants’ hall; a larder; the kitchen; the scullery; outside privy; and then the butler’s pantry and the butler’s room well away from the wine cellar. The extraordinary thing and a number of the early house plans have it – the knife room. I know it wasn’t too long after Peterloo but obviously people were a little nervous about letting the servants have access to the knives
We move to the ground floor, the magnificent dining room with the parlor at the back. At the rear of TRK’s house he built a tower block. You have the morning room and go up to the various bedrooms for the nine children. Returning to the main house, the spectacular drawing room. His house was 10ft deeper than any other house in the terrace. He wanted serious space for entertaining as described in the wonderful description of the dinner party held at the house in October 1827, by Monsieur Le Garde, published in Paris in1834.
This is Busby, Busby the developer. This is a sketch of a proposal for the area that is now covered by Adelaide Crescent and what it shows is that he has drawn up the layout but Busby’s key question is “How much is my interest worth” – he thinks the principal houses on this site will cost him £700 to £800 to build. Those are the same size as the houses in Sussex Square and the rest of the Kemp Town Estate. That is what it would cost to put up the carcass. It was cheap.
The materials for developing the estate came from all over. This is the North Laine area where we all wander on a Saturday afternoon to do our shopping. This is what it looked like in the early 1840s. It wouldn’t have changed much from the 1830s. The chimneys for the foundries and, as Sue pointed out to me, there was a candle works there. All the industrial workshops are in that area, and the buildings have been preserved. Over on the left hand side is the Regent Foundry, which was on the North Lane. That is where our railings came from.
This is a view of the timber yard at Lewes. Now this to me is extraordinary. It tells how primitive things were. So the timber was dropped off here as it came up the river from Newhaven. It then had to be taken to Brighton. Certain timbers and certain stones were loaded on the beach but they also came over the Downs. This man, TRK, who built/developed 94 houses, this was the ‘distribution technology’ that he had to deal with.
The recession. My background is in economics so I’m sorry I like figures but I will be brief. I’ve put this in figures. It is not in charts. As we move into the 1820s Armageddon breaks loose. This was the worst period of deflation, yes I did use that word DEFLATION, in the first half of the 19th century. It kicks in, in 1826 after the extraordinary boom of 1825 where there was an increase in the price level of 17.4% Then there is a continuous drop -.5.5, -6.5, – 2.9, -1, -2.6. You have a small ‘blip up’ which we would call today, a “dead cat bounce”. We’ll ignore that. We then go to 1830. Off we go again. 1832 down we go.
You know how much money the United States government and every government in Europe, has thrown at the economic system in the last two years to prevent inflation going anywhere near zero, let alone this. This was economic Armageddon. This is what TRK was up against. We can see it translating into the housing market via brick production in London, which comes from the tax records – bricks were taxed. You can see the total collapse of brick production from 1826. But hang on a minute…. while all this was going on TRK, who we are told continuously in the literature, knew nothing about business managed to sell 52 houses. I think he knew quite a bit about business!
Do you know something? Any fool can make money in a boom it takes someone with business expertise to survive a recession let alone a depression.
This is the plot in London that Kemp bought from Thomas Cubitt. It is huge. You can see that it is very similar to the original Holland plot for the first version of the Royal Pavilion; not identical, but it is similar.
This is the original drawing from Britton and Pugin. It is very TRK. Why is it very TRK? The design is exquisite. It is perfect. This is his showcase for London.
This is the floor plan.
This is the view across to the east, the eastern elevation of Belgrave Square. Now “Britton and Pugin – Public Edifices of London 1827” contains four drawings for Belgravia. One is Eaton Square, two is Belgrave Square, three and four are Kemp’s house and the floor plan of his house. Has TRK arrived? This was THE publication on the edifices of London.
This is the sixth Duke of Devonshire. He was a confirmed bachelor. As we know from this morning he occupied No. 1 Lewes Crescent. This is Mr. Super-rich. When he arrives TRK has struck gold. He is one of the wealthiest aristocrats in the country. A number of us have visited Chatsworth. We can’t see it anymore but Devonshire House, his London home, was the centre of political life in London.
This is his mother, on the left hand side, Georgiana, the fifth Duchess of Devonshire. Georgiana of gambling fame. We have all heard about or seen the movie. The other side is Lady Elizabeth Foster, the third person in the ménage a trios. We won’t go into that now but she became the second wife of the fifth Duke. She is critical to us, absolutely critical, because she is the sister of the Marquis of Bristol. The Duke of Devonshire purchases in January 1829 and in March 1829 the most fabulous client that TRK ever had arrives and buy19 and 20 Sussex Square in carcass form. The Marquis of Bristol is obviously a leading figure and a very wealthy man. He finished Ickworth. He rebuilt 6, St. James’s Square.
This is a list of furniture that he bought from Banting and French. They supplied the furniture to George IV for Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. They also supplied all the furniture for the east wing of Ickworth and the furniture for his house in Brighton. He actually spent more on the house in Brighton than he did on the east wing of Ickworth. Fascinating for us – he had eleven beds for his servants. There were a lot servants in his Brighton house.
This is a list of wages, the six monthly wages for his servants. They cover both living in and living out servants. There were a lot of them. The men were paid nearly three times what the women were paid.
He was a big spender in the town. This is a list of all the bills I have found in the files where he is clearly spending all over the place. Hanningtons is big. From Rock Street he buys some soda and indeed some salad oil. Over here he sends out to the Bristol Hotel, (I’m sorry about the quality of that), for a dozen port. He must just have been sending out. I can’t imagine his port came from there.
Now this is central. This is the auction that takes place in January 1842. If I could just have a couple of minutes on this because this is so important for evolving what happened to TRK. This was not forced by his creditors. This was Kemp trying to clean up his affairs at the end of his life. His two sons refused to take over the business. George was trained as a solicitor but wanted to go off with a girl to India. His son Phillip, whom he had put through Eton and his old college at Cambridge, also went off to India. There are some wonderful letters from him. So he had no option but to sell his estate. This estate was valued at £150,000. There were 590 acres; there were 11 mansions, ten on the Kemp Town Estate, and the Temple. He didn’t include the two houses used as his home in Kemp Town, 21 and 22. The literature has always argued that this figure is exaggerated – £150,000 – but hang on a minute: the Wick estate, which contained 150 acres, was sold for £60,000. We can go into that in questions. So I don’t think this is an unreasonable valuation. If this figure is anywhere near accurate, in today’s prices it would amount to £10.5 million. We can discuss pricing issues in questions. These are some of TRK’s assets in 1842 two years before he died.
This is a map associated with the auction catalogue. You can see that most of the acreage is to do with Tenantry Down acquired when he did the land deal back in 1822.
This is a letter. This is a very important letter sent by Thomas Baring to Kemp in Paris. The key figure is up there £6,975. In his solicitor’s account which his solicitor was failing to pay to him: he had £6,975 multiplied by a factor of 70 to arrive at £490,000 in today’s prices. Not bad when you are sitting in Paris!
Clearly he was not living in poverty. Where was he living? Well, you can go back these days and find No 64 Rue Faubourg de St Honore. Oh: it t is just down the road from the Elysee Palace and just across the street from the Embassy of Grand Britan – that fabulous ambassadorial house that Fatty Soames made so popular in the 1960s. Living in poverty? His body was taken from here and tossed into a pauper’s grave? Please…….
This was the legacy to Victorian Brighton. Kemp Town: the jewel in the crown of Victorian Brighton. That is what he left. That aerial shot is of 1846. He died in 1844
This is as it looks today’ looking in from the sea, this is his legacy: the largest and most impressive marine development, I would argue, anywhere in the world. It amounts today to 500,000 square feet. In today’s market it is worth about £270million. It is, of course, comparable with the King Alfred site and with the Brunswick site in the Marina. There is, of course, one fundamental difference between this site and the other two sites. Those two sites, despite trying for 15 years cannot raise the funding to finance the building. They will not be built in the foreseeable future. The real irony, which would have brought a wry smile to the man who knew “nothing of business”, is that the bank that ‘pulled the plug’ on the King Alfred site was, of course, the present day parent company of the Barings Bank.
Thank you very much indeed.
Professor Stephen Adutt. Consultant Architect, former Head of Architecture, Brighton University.
This part of the session will try to do three things. I’ll try to set the main Kemp developments into the briefest architectural context. Secondly I think all of us through some images which I’ll kind of wash over you, we’ll do a walk along the Marine Drive and through to the originally named Kemp Town. Thirdly we can ask ourselves what happens after Kemp? What lessons can we learn from this kind of development today? Can aspects of this typology of architectural form, illuminate the way we build today?
We begin, as Michael did, in Regency London. The date is 1818 Kemp would have been about 29 years old and the Marylebone Park Estate, later called Regents Park is being built by John Nash. The whole development in a classical revivalist style has been informed by the formal Italianate Palladian style which Michael talked about from the 16th century. The style which in itself was, of course, a revival with modifications, sources being of buildings in Greece and Rome.
So we have here on the east side a simple classical architecture and on the west side, Michael showed you the drawings the same, and when we come to Regency Park Terrace we get this coolest of curves, detailed only on the columned ground floor, plain classical first and second floor with a corniced third floor with a parapet.
Shortly afterwards in Bath, actually slightly earlier 1767- l774 John Wood the younger was designing and was building the great Crescent, again Michael had drawings: the rusticated ground floor, the powerful two floors of Ionic columns, the parapet and the recessed roof – very powerful, grand scale.
Seaside towns were beginning to vie with the spas and following from Bath and in parallel to Regents Park two seaside squares were beginning to be built at Brighton. Three architects were involved, we’ve heard of them all Amon Wilds Senior, Amon Henry Wilds,his son, and John Busby their partner. The first man lived to be 71, the second to be 73, and Busby died at the age of 46. All were local men, none famous like Nash and sometimes it is difficult to attribute the particular work .to each of them, as you have already discovered from our previous speakers. But we try to tell from the design idiosyncrasies of each which architect and builder designed what.
Regency Square was followed by Brunswick Square – Charles Busby – and here we have much more exuberance within the whole, great variety of form and detail and the terraces face the sea completing the square. Meanwhile on the east side of the Steine the East Cliff retaining wall had been completed in 1827 so the cliff was no longer crumbling and Marine Parade, here at high level, and Madeira Drive, at the lower level, were established. And so now could begin, over some 25 years, what was perhaps the longest, it is one and a half miles long, stretch of seaside facade-scape from a single architectural period in England. It was to lead to what Anthony Dale called at its east end “one of the finest estates and of the largest proportions also in England.”
When buildings are stretched in parallel to the seafront you can see that not very many dwellings can actually look at the sea. However as soon as you have indentations from the parallel line with the sea we get many more dwellings able to look, albeit diagonally, out at the sea and it’s that principle which applies to us here on the Marine Parade frontage.
What I’d like us to do now…. here you can see the indentations endlessly, there is very little straight line parallel to the sea architecture….. so .what I’d like us to do now… we are going to take a walk along that frontage.
We’ve missed Royal Crescent which had been built earlier, 1799, architect unknown, for the West Indian developer, Jamie Otto, and our walk begins here at Marine Square, 1824, for solicitor Thomas Attree. A lot of variety, a somewhat intimate square, some of your friends may like living here. Portland Place was built at about the same time, 1824, attributed to Busby, of course St. George’s Church, also at the same time, also Busby in the distance. We think it is Busby because the detailing followed what happened later here at the east end of Brighton in that he has these very powerful two storey applied pilasters with Corinthian capitals sitting on a rusticated ground floor and, as you will see in a minute, when you look down the street – what he does is he builds a high building…. he builds in groups of three… he builds a high building with the applied pilasters, then two dwellings which are plainer next to the high building and then he begins his trio again: another high building, two plain buildings, one two, one two and he does that all the way down Portland Place.
In Belgrave Place we get back on the seafront variation – a beautiful small curve, so that the two faces look towards the setting sun, towards the west, and we get a simpler first, second and third floor sitting on porticos with Ionic capitals.
We now reach Belgrave and it is very tight, very axial, but it is again a very powerful scale which when we, again, begin to look further eastwards is going to be continued in an unstretched line all the way to the horizon.
Percival and Clarendon Terraces follow next. Percival is, perhaps, slightly grander. It is interesting because here, although the buildings are parallel to the sea, the series of ten undulating bow fronts enable the occupants easily to look east and west.
That leads us to Number One of Chichester Terrace. Which begins the great development of Kemp Town proper. This Number One or Chichester House is fascinating because it has again, we think it is a Busby, it has got his design flair in that we have an asymetrical composition, we have giant two storey Corinthian pilasters, sometimes singly, sometimes in pairs, – a great variety within the one house.
Looking further along the Terrace we can begin to see the ground floor porches with their Ionic capitals surmounted by these marvellous tent roofed verandahs. I think Paul you live in one of them. There’s one of the porches, fluted columns.
If we move towards the east end of the Terrace we are beginning now to see the junction between the Terrace and the beginning of the Crescent. You can see the half round quadrant which turns the corner giving us the change of direction which leads to the west side of the Crescent. The buildings curve, they climb the Crescent and they then follow this sub-division of two one, two one, two one buildings: the applied pilasters, the plain applied pilasters, the two plain houses, the applied pilasters, two plain houses and so on. The heights here are generally five storey, although there’s a six here where we get a basement, the rusticated ground floor, brickwork behind it but stuccoed, the two floors of pilastered work, cornice, another floor, parapet.
As we curve round we get the anticipation of what’s going to happen around the corner and we see for the first time the west side of Sussex Square – very long – unfortunately, I think, truncated by Eastern Road but there it is.
As we jump across Eastern Road we see the flank wall of the north end of the Square and now with the north wall of the Square we begin to see some of the brickwork which Michael referred to, the facing brickwork behind the stucco. Apparently some of the covenants weren’t enforced so some people left brickwork.
If we look into the corner of the Square we do realise that it wasn’t all perfectly laid out. The setting out didn’t allow that column head to work in the left hand corner so it was a kind of three quarter column head.
But we move on past the great man’s house, there it is, and we look at the centre of the Square itself. Michael had a drawing of this – very powerful, totally different in composition from anything else in Kemp Town because it is on a compositional axis of the whole lot. There it is – a very powerful set-up.
Back into the further corner – again the high and the low developments. We turn southwards in the evening sun. We see the beautiful Ionic capitals and we move further south, still the Square. We are about to turn a corner again at the final curve, the east curve of Sussex Square with a mixture of porticos, some single, some double, this may now be one property, someone may be able to tell us and we reach the corner of the curve and we are on the final leg of the walk and we see the beginnings of Arundel Terrace which is reckoned by everyone as the most lavishly designed in the whole development. It is totally symmetrical with thirteen houses. This central dwelling with its only tripartite free-standing columns which, it is thought, that Wilds and Busby and whoever else was involved, they wanted this kind of terrace to be also at Chichester but it never was because 25 years later the money ran out. But it was this kind of development that it was hoped would form the two arms facing the sea.
Now this will interest you, I tried to draw the scale of the footprints of some of the stuff we have been talking about. You haven’t yet seen this little thing, I am going to show you that, which is the Barbican Crescent but the other three Crescents you have seen. There’s Bath in yellow, there’s Regents Park, and yes truly the same scale, beneath the Park there is our development with the Square behind it and the two arms. We did this study from Ordnance Survey maps and it is clear it ties up with what Michael and Sue have said, that this was the grandest scale of development.
Perhaps if we can now leave the memory of all this – this painting perhaps 1870, the photograph of maybe 1890 Pevsner used to say this is so big you can that you can never see all the sides of the square but here, in fact before Henry Phillips’ gardens grew you could see them. Maybe Pevsner couldn’t see them because by that time the vegetation had grown. Here is this lovely lady with her parasol walking in about 1904 on the esplanades against the sea.
Michael has reminded us that everyone before Kemp, during Kemp, and perhaps for 200 years after Kemp liked to live in the equivalent of a palace. This is actually Schonbrunn about 1760, an Austrian architect Fischer von Erlach. Look at the proportions! The proportions are about, what we’ve been looking at in Kemp Town. We have rusticated ground floor, two major floors with applied pilasters, cornice, parapet and a recessed roof. That is it. Once Classicism wasn’t being used so much in the 20th century, nevertheless, other perhaps poorer people, not the middle class or the upper middle classes, that we’ve been talking about before, wanted to live in these powerful overall buildings.
This is Socialist workers’ housing in Vienna at about 1930. Their designers were, perhaps, giving them the fortress to live in and so the individuals were subsumed by the overall as were those who lived in palaces. Later architects who weren’t using Classicism tried to do the same. This is Rob Krier, a Luxemburg architect who was trying to raise the order of things for ordinary people. This is an estate near Vienna called ——–strasse at about 1980 and you can see, in trying to do without Classicism, what we’ve been looking at just now. It becomes a bit like Noddyland if it’s not done right and other architects were trying to do the same.
This is Ricardo Bofill a Spanish architect, trying to design almost his own orders and giving people a kind of overpowering Fascistic architecture. How about that! That is really Fascistic!….to live in! Well, people were prepared to do that in order to live in something bigger than themselves.
Of course, here in dear Brighton we have Marine Gate 1937 – 39 architects Winfrey Simpson and Guthrie following Thirties’ Modernism living in something bigger than themselves. One of my colleagues who is sitting in the audience here is going to live in one of these but no-one will know if he is on the third floor or fifth floor – they are the same. But he is happy to do that because he is living within in a greater whole than his single flat.
Corbusier was trying to kind of follow the trend. Here he is trying to persuade us to live in slab blocks. This is Unite d’Habitation in Marseille 1947- 52 sort of thing. People enjoyed living in it.
Monumentalism does work sometimes. Here we are in the Barbican. I wanted to show you Frobisher Court which is, kind of, somewhere up there in the Barbican. There it is up there – another Crescent which, I suppose as an architect, I think is stunning. Those people who don’t like brutalist Modernism, of course, don’t think it is stunning but it is interesting that you can’t buy a flat in the Barbican easily because everyone likes living in it. That’s interesting isn’t it?
And so, the last question – what now? Our world is very, very different. People want individuality, and yet we know that we are in a world where populations are growing, populations are on the move, there’ll be greater and greater density in our cities, people will have to live closer and closer together if we are to keep any of the countryside that is left. What lessons can Kemp and his kind of developments give us in that situation? Well, he has given us one lesson: he built densely, very densely even in fields and that we are going to have to do.
I am ending by showing you the work of one modern architectural group. They are a Dutch firm and they are trying to do several things to help dense developments become all right, likeable, liked by all of us. Here is a development, that is not a plan that is an elevation. Buildings, great buildings that have great holes in them. This is a vertical development of what Basil Spence did on the ground at Falmer really, he put holes in Falmer House and so the idea is that you are still in touch with Nature even though you live in a megalith. You may not like that.
Another possibility is to apply much more colour. So that even if all the floors in a high building are much the same colour coding gives you identity. You may not like that either.
The same firm in Amsterdam is building these artificial islands with water running between them, obviously and what’s happening here is that a powerful idea of residential strip development is then handed over not to one firm of architects designers but to many architects and many designers so that any single dwelling in this long run, there’s one of them, can be designed to be different – same plan as that, but different designers and that gives the variety, the diversity which most people today would crave.
In England there are other architects, these are called Urban Splash, who are trying to do the same thing. This is not built, it is a project for Manchester and it is these kinds of ideas which are on drawing boards now.
But in the meantime we’re still living in 200 year old dwellings, very comfortably, there are no carriages at the doors but we like living in them because we can still walk out of our communal front door in the evening and look at this great space, dense architecture connected to planting and if we walk a bit further we can look at the sunset.
The Day was followed by a concert, consisting of the following programme.
THOMAS KEMP’S MUSICAL SOIREE