Clifton Hill

History

By Steve Myall

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The ‘Carriage Road’ was called the’ Road to Blatchington’ in Kemp’s will, and the naming of the road as ‘Clifton Hill’ occurred between March 1845 and the publication of the 1846 Street Directory, where Clifton Hill is first listed. As this map shows, the first purpose the Road to Blatchington was as a route from the north west of the town up past St. Nicholas’ to the chalybeate spring, from where it carried on southwards to Hove seafront.

In the 1846 street Directory there are no numbers in Clifton Hill and the listing reads "Curtis, Charles  Crescent Inn,  Killner, James  Wheelwright,  Tyler, James Esq."  In 1848  J. Taylor is listed in the livery stables, Clifton-mews, and by 1862 Mr. Taylor is entered as "postmaster, private and livery stables, Clifton mews”. The Crescent Inn of Clifton Hill also first appears in the 1846 Directory.

The original deeds to 7 Clifton Hill, on the corner of Clifton Road, also include the first terrace of homes up the eastern side of Clifton Road. They are dated 29th March 1845, and illustrate the variety of local traders and businessmen involved in the development of the area. The deeds mention William Watts - laundryman, John Yearsley - ironmonger, James Waller - grocer, William Pierson - butterman, Thomas Wisden - builder, John Budgen of Frant in Sussex, gentleman, the Rev. William Henry Butler, John Lewis - Brighton timber merchant and Thomas Watts of Brighton.

By Taylor's Directory of 1854 Clifton Hill is listed with fourteen residents, but it was not exclusively residential. It included the livery stables in Clifton Mews, a bootmaker, two laundresses, a green-grocer, a bookseller and wool shop, Fred Wright's chemist and tobacconist and the Crescent Inn.

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According to the hospital deeds the flint barn, on the highest narrow part of Clifton Hill, was built in 1852 as a private coach house to 5 Powis Villas. The town map of 1870 shows the barn incorporated in the gardens to that house.

Into the C20th the hospital records have a Memorandum of Agreement which identifies the flint barn (originally a coach-house) as number 23 Clifton Hill and notes an agreement of September 1919 by which George Lewis Browne of London, the landlord, and Richard William Frost, a Brighton pork butcher of 15 Gardner Street, who rents ‘all that coach-house and stable (but not including yard to west of same) known as 23 Clifton Hill’. This was the tenant immediately prior to a Mr. A.L. Gates, who appears in the 1920 Directory as the motor engineer of that address. It seems unlikely that Mr. Frost carried on his butchers business from the barn, possibly he just kept his delivery vans there, which is why the premises was suitable for the later motor car business, and had a petrol pump on the premises

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This is 5 Powis Villas, built c1852, named as Aberdeen Lodge in the 1890s, and which had the flint coach-house as part of its estate.  While its address is Powis, its corner position makes it the dominant building in Clifton Hill. The house was given a grander and more distinctive elevation than the other four detached homes of Powis VIllas, together with an Italianate tower similar to 1 & 2 Clifton Hill. This was the last of the detached villas in Powis, and together with the Clifton Hill flint barn in its grounds, its original private garden extended behind numbers 6 and 7 Powis Villas, reaching down to a border with Powis Grove. In the rate book of 1854 this extension to the garden was listed separately under ‘6 Powis Grove – Joseph Browne, a garden – 2/-‘. Joseph Browne was the first owner of the house and his business was statuary and decorative plaster work, which is much in evidence around his home. His flint barn has a sitting lion on the side buttress, four classical head reliefs on the west wall, and a large circular relief above these. On the wall posts around the house there are four acorn motifs, presumably there were six originally, and these are unique exterior decorations in the area.

It was Joseph Browne’s grandson, George Lewis Browne of London, who leased the flint coach-house to various local businesses and to the hospital, and on Sept 8th 1937 the hospital purchased numbers 5, 6 and 7 Powis Villas, the flint coach-house and the land that became the hospital staff car-park. According to the hospital records the whole lot was purchased for £5,575 from Mr. F.J. Welman, who at the time lived at 2 Powis Villas. The hospital purchased them all with tenants in place.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Clifton Hill' page

 

This is 13 Clifton Hill, behind which is the modern office development of Clifton Mews. It was the first house built on the Road to Blatchington and was part of Mrs Watts’ laundry.

This page was added on 16/04/2011.

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