How to mistreat a fine building

Take a walk southwards along Bond Street in Brighton. As you approach the junction with North Street, you will see Clarence House straight ahead of you.  

It started life in 1785 as the New Inn, one of many coaching inns in the area. It was described in 1809 as "decidedly the best inn in Brighton". In 1830 it was re-named the Clarence Hotel in honour of the Duke of Clarence who had himself just been renamed King William IV (c1870, centre right).

It continued as a hotel until 1972. It then stood vacant, apart from a brief visit by squatters, until 1979 when it was restored by architects Wells-Thorpe and Suppel to become the headquarters of the Citizens Regency Building Society (bottom right). 

Buildings need to change with the times if they are to continue in use but if our committment to conservation means anything, it means that these changes should respect their original character. Sadly, as our most recent photograph (top right) shows, the character of Clarence House is desperately in need of some respect.  

Consider first the garish awnings above the shopfront. This is no way to dress up a listed, 18th century building, located in a conservation area.

Now turn your attention to the impressive front entrance. The view is blocked by a 21st century bus shelter. It was put there as part of the recent widening of the pavements in North Street.

Let's be generous and assume that whoever put it in precisely this position did not realise what they were doing to the building behind. Even so, it would be nice if it could be moved.

So what can be done? The Regency Society is looking for answers to this question. Watch this space. Better still, watch Clarence House.

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