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Over the years, the Regency Society has acquired a collection of books that have been kept in store. We have been clearing out the store, which was not really a suitable place to keep anything. The books have been offered to The Keep and to Brighton and Hove Libraries. We are now offering the following remaining titles to members in return for a donation to the society. A ‘guide price’ is provided, based on the lowest recent cost of acquiring the book from Amazon or Abebooks, where available. Any suitable donation is, of course, welcome.

Please send your title request and proposed donation to publishing@regencysociety.org with your email address. Books will be collected from the store in batches. We will propose a suitable delivery arrangement.

In the event that more than one person requests a title, the higher offer will secure the title.

See book list here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Members will be saddened to hear of the death of our Vice President and former Chair, John Wells-Thorpe, on Easter Sunday 2019.

John made a unique contribution to the Regency Society over the years.  Many will remember his towering but quiet presence at Society events,  whether  he was introducing a visiting speaker or making a thoughtful contribution to a discussion.  Perhaps some of his most significant moments were when he provided wisdom to anyone in the Society who sought him out, those to whom he would listen carefully and to whom he always gave his measured and considered advice.

John was dedicated to public service far beyond the Regency Society. He was a member of the BBC Advisory Board and a Justice of the Peace. He found time for these interests in a long and distinguished international career in architecture during which he was a Council member and Vice President of the RIBA. As President for the Commonwealth Association of Architects he travelled extensively.

A  personal reflection by his friend , architect and academic Stephen Adutt, follows:

 

John Arthur Wells-Thorpe, OBE, Architect. 1928- 2019.

An extended Wikipedia on John would give us all the facts.  We would read about John's career in architecture.  How he worked in two practices: first with Gotch and Partners (1953-1971), where he started  as a trainee and in time became a partner; then within his own practice of Wells-Thorpe and Suppel  (1971--1991). We would learn how, over some forty years of architectural activity, John and his colleagues carried out building commissions primarily in England but also in other parts of the world, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Malta  and Tanzania. As many as fifty projects covered a wide range of building types, civic, commercial, educational, ecclesiastical, medical, residential  and the workplace.

From time to time, over and beyond these working years, the Wikipedia would list some dozens of John's parallel activities and responsibilities, sometimes to architecture, sometimes to the church or to education or to society.  Such key roles and duties extended beyond the remits of the OBE which he was awarded by the Queen in 1995 'for Services to Architecture'.   In my view he deserved more.

Yet when reading such an extensive Wikipedia our underlying sense of John would be lost. Instead, we would gain a greater insight by reading his book 'Behind the Facade, An Architect at Large’.(Book Guild 2009).  There we would find revealed a man with a rich sense of humour, a man keen to understand all aspects of the times and situations in which he lived, knowledge which enabled him to develop appropriate management skills,  which in turn increasingly allowed him to become a sound administrator and leader.  So he nurtured his own ability to walk with all walks of life, from his 1947 Singapore national service gunnery squad personnel to his later spread of contacts, to the Governor Generals, High Commissioners, Bishops, Archbishops, Heads of Industry and even Royals.

In his book John shows how critical it was for the head of a 'private sector’ practice to react sensibly to the inevitable rises and falls of the national economy.  So he surrounded himself with a good team of design and technical collaborators, who he was then ever concerned to hold together, to whom he was prepared to delegate and for whom he knew  that it was his responsibility to find work.  He also knew that some of his practice’s much needed clients wanted buildings primarily to 'improve business’, upon which he later reflected  "never talk to shopkeepers about aesthetics  or the greater public good".

It was left to the range of the practice’s completed projects to demonstrate not only functionality but also creativity,  whether they showed sympathy for the scale of their surroundings like Hove Town Hall (1970-74) or whether they showed care for building detail.  The latter is exemplified over many times, such as at Brighton’s Brighthelm Centre (1987) fronted by John Skelton’s sculptured ‘Loaves and Fishes’; or at Dulwich College where John the architect designed the Shackelton Science Block (opened by Lord Shackelton, the explorer’s son, in 1989), the new work with its red and buff brick livery matching the neighbouring  buildings by Charles Barry ; or at the College’s War Memorials to which John had earlier added  two standing stones  with his own sensitively designed name- inscribed tablets.    All such detail, whether self -generated or whether inspired by work from chosen artists and sculptors, known or unknown, would have been familiar to John.  After all, he was  himself  educated at Brighton’s famous College of Art.

In 1991, having ended a forty year period of architectural endeavour, John embarked on a last and different lease of working life.  Although already the responsible Chairman of Hove’s Martlets  Hospice, he was  also now made Chairman of the NHS South Downs Health Trust.  Over a six year period of tenure he was able to enjoy just being a Client who commissioned other architects to design buildings.  A series of neighbourhood medical facilities were planned. These would address local needs such as the care of the mentally ill or of the frail elderly or of injured children.  Here John’s management talents flourished as always, while he was again also able to contribute to national medical publications which dealt with the nature of healing through thoughtfully designed environments.

In  'Behind  the Facade' John no doubt deliberately chooses to leave out his more personal life.  We might glean that he was religious.  From his earliest student written thesis on Modern Church Architecture,  checked  by his diocesan bishop George Bell of Chichester, John clearly remained a loyal member of the established Anglican church. This in spite of the church's harsh ruling that John's father, having  committed  suicide, was allowed only to be buried in an unmarked grave.  Undeterred, perhaps forgiving, perhaps strengthened by regular visits to a retreat, John's involvement in the design and repair of places of worship lasted a lifetime.

Nor does John the author choose to tell us about himself as husband and family man.  His first wife, Ann (married 1954) is mentioned only once by name, as are their two children, Frances (born 1956) and Peter (born 1957).  We learn of his second wife, Meta (married 1989-2019) because ‘Behind the Facade' is dedicated to her:

“For Meta, without whose encouragement and persistence this book would not have been written“

Stephen Adutt

20 04 2019

Photograph of Hove Town Hall by David Sears

Photograph of John Wells-Thorpe by David Robson

 

 

 Audrey, a long-time member, trustee, officer and supporter of the Regency Society, died on 31 March 2019, aged 83

Audrey was a trustee of the Society, on and off, for 13 years during the period 1988-2011.She was very supportive of the Society. In particular she worked closely with chairs John Wells-Thorpe, Gavin Henderson and Stephen Nieman. One of the many events she organised was the 60th Anniversary Dinner in the Music Room of The Royal Pavilion, which was held in December 2005.

When she left the Regency Society committee, she established the 21st Century Society and Politico, both wide-discussion groups.

Wise, hospitable, sociable, innovative, stylish and elegant, resembling an Erté model, Audrey always championed Brighton and Hove.

Audrey was appreciative of our history and architectural heritage but occasionally she didn't agree with the ‘conservationists’. She often spoke up for modern development, prosperity and business. She always spoke against the banal and substandard, promoted good design and wise development. Audrey once said, ‘If a fearless Council had not built the Conference Centre, Brighton would have suffered the same fate as Bognor.’

Audrey was a successful business woman and hotelier, developing Brighton's first ‘boutique hotel’, the Granville, which she bought in 1978 when it was just a guest house.

Her energy was boundless. She travelled widely, often representing VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), offering training in hotel skills in the Third World. She served as a magistrate for 28 years.

She worked with many local organisations including City College, the Beacon Trust, the Chamber of Commerce and the Gardner Arts Centre. She was a major supporter of the Martlets Hospice and other charities. For many years she had a leading role in the Mayor's Charity fund raising events.

Audrey was also an active member of the West Pier Trust. One of her major achievements was supporting the i360.She stuck with the project to renovate this dilapidated area of Brighton for over 20 years. She ‘deferred’ her 80th birthday party until she was 81 in September 2016, so that she could have the celebrations on the i360.

Audrey is irreplaceable—not, as many thought, indestructible—and will be sadly missed by her family, friends and colleagues.

 

Link

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society committees, meets monthly to discuss planning applications which the Forum considers significant.

Each society forms its own view on the applications and decides what action, if any, to take.

PLANNING FORUM APRIL 2019

If it must be Tudorbethan please understand when and how do apply it

If you take a walk around Rottingdean, you will probably not even notice Coppers, an uninspiring 1950’s building.  It is a brick-built bungalow with rooms added in the roof, surrounded by trees and not visible form the road. So why has the Regency Society taken an interest in it?

Firstly, it is in the Rottingdean Conservation Area. Secondly it is only about 50 metres away from Challoners, a grade II listed farmhouse.

The plan (BH2019/00809) is to turn Coppers into a substantial two storey house in the so called “Tudorbethan” style found in other buildings nearby, particularly in Dean Court Road.  We do not believe that the resulting building will do any serios damage to the conservation area or the setting of Challoners.

However, we do regret that choice of the mock tudor style. Coppers is not part of Dean Court Road, so the design should be related to the rest of the conservation area, rather than add another layer to the history of the Tudorbethan style.

The proposed design is totally lacking in the sophistication and wit of Tudor Close or the charm of Tudor Cottages, both nearby. It employs the stylistic grammar in a random manner with every part of the repertoire of details used. On the front, the large gable has less timbering than the smaller ones.

In relation to the restrained design of Challoners, the proposal can only be described as a "noisy neighbour".

The Society's annual general meeting took place on 3 April 2019 at 7 pm at the Metropolitan College in Pelham Street, Brighton. 

Mary McKean stood as Chair, Roger Hinton as Honorary Secretary, and Jamie Wright and Helen Walker as committee members. All were approved with well over a third of voters supporting their nominations.  With 55 votes cast, approvals were 52, 55, 54 and 54 respectively.

The annual report and accounts for 2018 are available here.

Candidates nomination statements are available here.

The full committee for 2019-2020 is available here along with personal profiles for each member here.

Alasdair Glass explains

As part of the First World War centenary commemorations, English Heritage began a programme, continued by Historic England, to list 2,500 war memorials as buildings of special interest, more than doubling the number already listed. They also recognised that a relatively low proportion of memorials were listed at the higher grades of Grade II*- particularly important buildings of more than special interest - and Grade I - of exceptional interest. Lewes War Memorial was upgraded to II* in October 2014, at the instigation of the War Memorials Trust, the national charity that works to protect and conserve war memorials in the UK.

With all but the most modest or damaged memorials listable for their historic interest, special criteria were needed to determine their appropriate grading. In March 2015, the month before they split with Historic England, English Heritage convened a meeting including the War Memorials Trust to review the grading of all 44 memorials in England designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the architect of the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Hove War Memorial was considered not to justify upgrading.

Historic England issued guidance in June 2015 that “Grade II* will be warranted for those memorials with an above-average level of interest: they may be highly unusual in form or symbolism or of a high level of artistic accomplishment.” Comparing the Lewes and Hove memorials against this makes it clear why the former warranted upgrading and the latter did not. More intriguing perhaps is why Lewes, with a third of the population of Hove, has such a splendid memorial and Hove such a mediocre one.

Lewes War Memorial is of exceptional sculptural interest as the work of Vernon March (1891-1930). Untutored, he became the youngest exhibitor at the Royal Academy in 1907, at the age of 16. Having learnt to fly before the war, he joined the Royal Flying Corps, but his poor eyesight prevented him from serving as a pilot. He was noted for the vigour of his figures, three of which, Victory, Peace and Liberty adorn the memorial. His early death at the age of 38 makes his war memorials his main legacy. In the UK, his memorial at Lewes is only matched by that in Londonderry, but the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa is by far his most impressive work.

Sited in the middle of the junction of Lewes High Street and Market Street, the tight composition and the verticality of the design gains stature from its constricted position. The figure of Victory gestures east towards the dawn and some corner of a foreign field that is forever Sussex.

By contrast, Hove War Memorial is of architectural interest as the work of Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), the “go-to” architect for war memorials. Lutyens had ambitions for an obelisk or a cenotaph, a wooden mock-up of which was set up on Hove Lawns. The columnar form is unusual for him, but duplicated the same year at Fordham, Cambridgeshire. The unimpressive column is further diminished by its setting in the yawning void of Grand Avenue.

The sculptor was Sir George Frampton (1860-1928), who had achieved eminence and was a member of the Royal Academy’s Executive Committee on War Memorials. His most important memorial is that to Edith Cavell in London. He had first used a figure of St George at the Radley College Boer War Memorial in 1903. Now in his 60s, his statues at Hove and at Fordham are formulaic and lacking originality. St George turns his back on the sea, beyond which so many sons of Hove had died.

Lewes benefited from holding a competition and recognising an outstandingly good entry, unlike Hove which took the easy way out of making the obvious choice. The Lewes memorial committee was over-ambitious, naming all 25I of the fallen on the actual monument. Embarrassingly, the final cost of £2,645 was not paid off for several years afterwards. The Hove memorial cost just £1,537, with the names of the 631 fallen engraved on brass plaques in the entrance to Hove Library, leaving some residual funds for war charities. With Hove Library reprieved from closure, it is to be hoped that these memorial plaques can remain indefinitely in their original location, together with the rare collection of war records, photographs and ephemera which make up the Hove Roll of Honour.

 

Photos

Hove: By Hassocks5489 - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72636454

Lewes: By Poliphilo - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50201379

The name George Burstow is rarely—no, never—grouped with the names of Wilds and Busby et al. Yet the firm of George Burstow & Sons was responsible for many more terraces in Brighton, the ones away from the Regency seafront, the ones where Brightonians have lived since the end of the Victorian era. From 1901 to 1905 he built over 1,800 houses in Brighton, almost half the total in that period.

...continue reading "Meet Brighton’s most prolific house builder"

Link

The Planning Forum, attended by members of the Regency Society and Hove Civic Society committees, meets monthly to discuss planning applications which the Forum considers significant.

Each society forms its own view on the applications and decides what action, if any, to take.

The trouble with compromise: Sea Lanes tries again

There are many supporters of this scheme for our seafront and it’s not difficult to understand why. It’s appealing in many ways and the changes made in the latest application are indeed improvements. But it’s an unfortunate clash with our hopes for Madeira Arches. Perhaps, in this case, there can be no compromise.

When considering the latest application we reviewed our comments on the first one.  We had objected to it on a number of grounds the main one being the need for a holistic approach on the re-development of Madeira Drive. This matched the position of Historic England.  How would the proposal impact on Madeira Arches both in terms of winning funding to carry out the repairs and the viability and long term enjoyment of the unique and treasured Victorian terrace?  We also considered the viability of the Sea Lanes scheme that left us with questions that, as yet, have no answer.

Interesting it is that both schemes require commercial support, the arches for maintenance and Sea Lanes for financial sustainability.  For Madeira Arches there is an intention to create outlets within some of the arches while still maintaining the covered promenade.  For Sea Lanes it is one and two storey units offering offices, refreshments and shops. What would be the impact of both plans running competitive outlets? Do we want such change a of tone along that bit of seafront that presently provides wide views out to sea, unobscured by buildings and peaceful strolls, removed from the bustle of the pier and the marina?  It’s over development in our minds and there can be no compromise in this case.  Therefore we have again objected to the application.

Unfortunately the application is going to planning committee on 3rd April with a recommendation 'minded to approve'. This is despite Historic England and the Heritage Team opposing it.

Below is the Regency Society's objection submitted to the Planning Department:

“The Regency Society objected to the previous scheme and fully supports the Planning Committee's reasons for refusing it. The revised scheme concentrates on the design and materials for the proposed new buildings on Madeira Drive. It also provides improved views and access ways from the roadway through to the beach.  The pool itself has also been moved a little further north. As a result, the scheme is somewhat better than the previous proposal.

However, it does nothing to address the reasons for which the previous scheme was refused.  The proposed new buildings on Madeira Drive will have an adverse impact on the neighbouring listed buildings and on the character of the conservation area. We believe that there is a serious risk that a scheme of this kind would reduce the Council’s chances of obtaining grant funding for the restoration of the Madeira Arches.”

The annual Anthony Dale lecture was held on 6 March in the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion. Exceptionally, refreshment afterwards was served in the Banqueting Room, passing through the splendidly restored Saloon on the way.

The speaker was Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, the public body formed in 2015 by separating out the charity which has kept the brand name of English Heritage. This cares for the over 400 monuments which make up the so-called National Heritage Collection, ranging from Stonehenge to, nearest to home, Bramber Castle.

Historic England makes recommendations for listing historic buildings to the Secretary of State, almost all of which are accepted. Conservation areas are designated by planning authorities.

Listed building consent is granted by planning authorities; Historic England can only advise, though it can and on occasion does appeal to the Secretary of State if it objects. It is also concerned with developments which would adversely affect the setting of listed buildings and/or the character of conservation areas.

Historic England supports change provided any adverse effect on the historic environment is justified by the public benefit. It recognises that appropriate enabling development may be required to overcome the conservation deficit, as at Battersea Power Station.

It also recognises that historic buildings need to be economically viable. It is not enough simply to conserve the fabric of Madeira Terrace, some beneficial use of the arches will be necessary to fund future maintenance.

(with thanks to Alasdair Glass for this summary)

The Society's annual general meeting took place on 3 April 2019 at 7 pm at the Metropolitan College in Pelham Street, Brighton. 

See results of the committee election here.