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 Hove Civic Society has also withdrawn, for similar reasons.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"
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"
The Regency Society has made the following comments on application BH2017/00492 submitted by the University of Brighton in March 2017 for full planning permission for the redevelopment of Preston Barracks and Mithras House Car Park and outline planning permission for redevelopment of the Watts Building Car Park.
Although the proposals are disappointing in some respects, the Society is minded to support them for the following reasons:
- the site has been a derelict eyesore for far too long,
- we welcome the consolidation and expansion of the University of Brighton
- new student housing is sorely needed and will take pressure off conventional housing in the area
- we support the reinforcement of the academic corridor linking the Steine to Falmer
- the development will contribute positively to the economy of the City.
- we have no objection on conservation grounds - the site does not fall within a conservation area and the proposals will not affect any of the City’s heritage assets. (We understand that the surviving Regency Period barracks fall outside of the site boundaries and will remain the property of the M.o.D.)
- Even as they stand the proposals will considerably improve what has become a depressing urban corridor.
- We do not have a problem with the proposed heights of the buildings. The site lies in the bottom of a valley and falls within an area that has been ear-marked for tall buildings (SPGBH15 of 2004). Inevitably the development will be visible from other parts of the City and from various points on the Downs, though we don’t consider that this will necessarily pose a problem. Indeed it could add a point of interest to the City’s profile and act as a marker for the ‘academic corridor’.
...continue reading "Preston Barracks site: our comments on the planning application"
(The image above, prepared by David Fisher, shows the 1973 OS map (black) overlaid on an 1877 map (sepia).This shows the earlier square on the site, and access from twittens to North-West, South and South-East which still exist.)
The Regency Society is critical of current proposals to alter Brighton Square as outlined in planning applications BH2017/00762, 00768 & 00797, namely to reclad the facades of the existing shops and associated housing, to amalgamate nos 12-16 Brighton Square to form a single restaurant space, to install an enclosed dining area in the square under a canopy and to raise and thus obscure the existing fountain sculpture.
...continue reading "Brighton Square"