The Brighton Unitarian Church in New Road is a striking building. It stands on what was originally part of the Royal Pavilion gardens. The Prince Regent sold it to the Unitarian congregation in 1819 for £650, allegedly to help stave off bankruptcy.
Just over a year later the church was finished. The architect, Amon Henry Wilds drew inspiration from the temple of Theseus in Athens, giving the building an immense pediment and columns which still dominate the east end of new Road.
The story today
Sadly, these features of the building are now decaying. As a result, it has been added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register. Attempts are being made to obtain a restoration grant.
Read more about the Portico Repair Project here.
Meanwhile the church’s activities continue, including an impressive series of weekly lunchtime concerts. The November programme starts on Friday 3rd (12:30 – 1:15 pm; coffee from 12 noon). Pianist An-Ting Chan will play music inspired by animals. See the full programme here.
The Regency Society cares about our city. We want to preserve its wonderful heritage and encourage new, well designed buildings. This is why we keep a very close eye on planning applications in Brighton and Hove.
To do this we monitor proposed developments. We speak out about them when we think they are unacceptable as well as when we think they are good.
Until recently we did much of this through our membership of the Council’s Conservation Advisory Group (CAG). Recently we decided to withdraw from the group. You can read more about our reasons here. Hove Civic Society has also withdrawn, for similar reasons.
...continue reading "Our new approach to planning"
With regret, we have decided to cancel the discussion forum about the Waterfront Project planned for 18 October. We don't like cancelling events, especially at short notice, but in this case we feel we should.
The Waterfront Project, if it goes ahead, will be one of the most important developments in the city over the next few years. It will result in the construction of a 10,000-seat events venue at Black Rock and a major extension of the Churchill Square shopping centre.
So, if it is so important why did we cancel the discussion forum?
We have been monitoring the project for some time and have had useful discussions about it with representatives of both the Council and the owners of Churchill Square (Standard Life). We believed, based on what we were told and public statements by the Council, that by October the project would have moved forward and more detail would be known, and the parties would be willing to share their plans with us in greater detail.
In fact very little seems to have changed over the past few months and there is still very little detail available. As we have written before - this is frustrating as the people of Brighton and Hove need and deserve to know more. But a discussion at this stage, before a deal is agreed between the major players, could only have covered old ground.
The project is complex and controversial. Many people have questioned how it could work. We still believe that a public discussion will be needed.
We hope to resurrect the planned forum when more details are available and the major parties are available to explain their thinking. As soon as this seems to be the case we will be in touch.
Image shows Black Rock site
2017 marks the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death. Members of her close family were landowners and her cousin used Humphry Repton to ‘improve’ his estate at Stoneleigh Abbey. Her novels chart the shift in landscape and garden aesthetics from the Picturesque sensibilities of the 1790s to the development of Ornamental Gardening with its winding shrubberies and exotic planting. ...continue reading "‘A prettyish kind of little wilderness’- Landscapes and gardens in the novels of Jane Austen. Lecture by Timothy Mowl"
Our protests, along with those of other groups, about the latest damage to Marlborough House, one of our most important heritage assets have been heard. The Council has decided to refuse the retrospective application for permission to paint the exterior of the building. We await developments with interest.
As members know, Marlborough House is the second most important building in Brighton and Hove. The current Pevsner guide calls it Brighton’s 'finest late C18 house'. Its construction, formed from a previous red-bricked house owned Thomas Shergold, in 1786 to a design by Robert Adam predates all of Brighton's Regency Squares, Crescents and Terraces. Adam intended the original to look as if it were faced with Portland Stone. This was to achieve a classical effect and is typical of Adam. Adam's style has had huge influence on building design throughout Europe and beyond ever since. It must have been a magnificent and striking sight at a time when central Brighton had few distinctive buildings. ...continue reading "Marlborough House – the Council refuses the restrospective planning application"
After much careful thought the trustees of the Regency Society have decided to withdraw the society from Brighton and Hove City Council Conservation Advisory Group (CAG).
This is not a decision which has been taken lightly or easily: we have been associated with CAG since it was established and several society trustees have chaired it at various times.
The move is prompted by a recent incident when CAG’s representative on the Planning Committee seriously misrepresented the CAG’s agreed views about a major development.
CAG has provided the society with an important channel through which to pursue its primary objective of protecting and improving our city’s built environment. We will of course continue to pursue this objective through other means. We'll be reporting on this in due course as new arrangements develop.
Read our full account here. If you would like to express a view on this or any other issue the committee would be very pleased to hear from you. Please use the 'contact us' box on this site or send an email to Roger Hinton.
The illustration above shows an artist's impression of the plan for the development at Ellen Street which was the subject of misrepresentation at the Planning Committee. You can read more about the Regency Society's original response to this scheme here.
The committee has been considering the Council's proposals to create a new conference and events centre at Black Rock for some time. The Council wants to fund the new centre with a deal involving Standard Life Investments (SLI). This is a complex and far reaching scheme which includes a much enlarged Churchill Square shopping centre. We're calling for much more consultation about it.
We need to know more
Despite its very significant scale, there is little information about this proposal.
...continue reading "Consultation on the Waterfront Project: we want to know more"
Kevin Wilsher reflects on a convivial afternoon in truly British weather
Well, the day started in an unpromising way with sea fret and light drizzle and the organisers got a little damp whilst setting up the event. By opening time, however, the weather had settled into a dry but overcast cool ‘summer’ day.
Following a quick trip to A&E to sort out the caterer’s sliced hand and to get some emergency ice, we were ready to go on time.
...continue reading "Summer Garden Party 2017: a bit on the chilly side but great fun!"
Delia Forester reflects on the highly successful 2017 study tour.
When embarking on a trip such as this it is probably best to understand that you must, for a while, abandon your destiny to a higher power. Forget lovely long lie-ins, leisurely breakfasts or lolling about on a lilo with a long gin and tonic. You won’t do much sitting in sunny squares sipping sangria or spritzer either.
...continue reading "The Great Northumbria Study Tour, June 2017"