Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Brighton

BRIGHTON, a parliamentary borough, and one of the most fashionable watering-places of England, is situated on the coast of Sussex between Beachy Head and Selsea Bill, in 50 50 N. lat. and 8 W. long. By railway it is 50 miles from London and 28 from Chichester. Its sea- frontage of handsome mansions and hotels extends upwards of three miles from Kemp Town in the east to what was formerly the suburban village of Cliftonville in the parish of Hove; while its depth inland at the centre is rather more than a mile. In general appearance the style of the town strikingly resembles that of London ; and many of its streets and squares seem as if they had been transported as they stand from the " West End." As far, indeed, as its character is not affected by its natural situation, it is nothing more or less than a vigorous offshoot supported by the sap of the greater city, a fact which is popularly recognized by the designation of London-super-Mare. During the present century its growth has been rapid and continuous, about four hundred new houses being often built in the space of a year. Its streets and squares already amount to four hundred ; but in comparison with this extent the number of its really remarkable buildings is rather small, and nearly all of them are of modern date. Among its twenty Episcopalian and between thirty and forty Nonconformist churches two only need be specially men tioned, the parish church of St Nicholas, which was built in the reign of Henry VII., and is probably one of the oldest buildings in the town, and Trinity chapel, in Ship Street, memorable as the scene of the labours of Frederick William Robertson. The most important of the secular edifices are the town-hall, the market, the pavilion, the aquarium, the theatre, the proprietary college, the Sussex county hospital, the new workhouse, the infirmary, the blind asylum, and the female orphan asy lum. The pavilion, with its strange assemblage of domes and minarets, was built in 1784-7 as a residence for the Prince of Wales (afterwards George IV.), and about 1818 it was refashioned by Nash into a grotesque Anns of Brighton, imitation of Chinese architecture. It has a frontage to the east of 300 feet, and occupies, with its gardens, about 11^ acres. In 1850 it was purchased by the town for 53,000, and its spacious rooms, greatly altered from time to time, arc now appropriated to a variety of uses, one serving as a museum, another as an assembly-room, others as picture- galleries. The pavilion dome, formerly the royal stables, is now converted into a magnificent hall Tor high-class musical performances; it is lighted by a glazed dome, with a diameter only 20 feet less than that of the dome of St Paul s of London. The county hospital was built in 1828 by Sir Charles Barry, at a cost of 10,000, and has since been largely extended. It is " open to the sick and lame poor of every country and nation." There are a large number of minor benevolent establishments in the town, and so various are its educational institutions that it has been called the city of schools. Among the bathing establishments the most remarkable are Brill s and the New Turkish Baths ; the former includes extensive swimming baths for both sexes.

Arms of Brighton.
The tendency of the currents in the channel opposite

Brighton is to drive the shingle eastward, and within the memory of man large portions of the coast have thus been destroyed. To prevent this erosion the whole sea-front age of the town at the east end is protected by a great sea-wall, which was built between 1827 and 1838. It is a mile long, GO feet high, and 23 feet thick at the base, and cost 100,000. The beach is further ribbed from north to south by various "groynes," or jetties, one of which, constructed of concrete in 1867, at a cost of 5000, stretches about 250 feet into the sea. There are two piers which serve as promenades. The first, an elegant chain fabric commenced by Sir S. Brown, R.N., in 1822, was opened to tho public in the following year. It is 113G feet in length and 15 feet in width, the four cast-iron columns on which it is suspended being supported by stone buttresses based on oaken piles driven into the solid chalk. The cost was 30,000, and in 1836 an additional expendi ture was necessary to repair the damage inflicted by a great storm in November of that year, which was within a little of destroying the structure altogether. A new pier further to tho west was opened in 18G6. Its total length is 1 1 15 feet, audit affords accommodation for 2000 people. The town is well supplied with water by the corporation water works, and by an artesian well, 1285 feet deep, at Warren Farm, the boring of which lasted from 1858 to 18G2. The sewage is effectively removed by an intercepting sewer 5 miles in length, which discharges into the sea 2 miles east of the parish boundary. Since the opening of the Brighton railway in 1841 the town has developed wonderfully; but, with the exception of the railway works, no manufactur ing establishment exists, and no tall chimneys are seen. Owing to the absence of a natural harbour the commerce of the place is insignificant, but the mackerel and herring- fisheries are carried on by about 120 boats. The races, which are held in August to the north and north-east of the town, and the great volunteer reviews, which of late years have drawn many thousands to the neighbour ing downs, add considerably to the local trade. The town is governed by a mayor, thirteen aldermen, and a

council. It returns two members to parliament.

Brighton, originally Brighthelmstone, plainly derives its name

from some Saxon Brighthelm, but who or what lie was there seems no means of discovering. The present contracted form of the word came into general use only in the end of the 18th century, but it is sometimes found in the documents of the time of Charles II. At the time of the Conquest Brighton was a small fishing village, and the lordship of the manor was bestowed by the Conqueror on his nephew William de Warrenne, who received as rent from the fishermen 4000 herrings. In 1513 it was burnt by the French under Messire Pregent, whom the English chronicles call Prior John ; and in 1545 it was again greatly damaged by Claude d Annebalte, the admiral of Francis I. At that time it is represented as a quadrangular town of four or five streets. There were then no defences, but in 1558 a small circular fort was erected by Elizabeth. The town seems to have rapidly recovered its prosperity, for in 1579 it possessed 80 fishing-boats, with 400 fishermen and 10,000 nets. The whole Elizabethan town, however, has been destroyed by the sea, which in 1699 swept away 160 houses, and in 1703 and 1706 did almost as much damage. The modern reputation of Brighton is due to Dr Richard Russell, a native of Lewes, who resided there in 1750, and wrote a book on the advantages of sea-bathing, which led a number of people of high rank among others the dukes of Cumberland and Marlborough to place themselves under his direction. The Prince Regent followed, and the fortunes of Brighton were made. Bedford Square was commenced in 1810, and the building of Kemp Town took place between 1821 and 1830. A charter of incorporation was granted in 1854. In 1761 the population was only about 2000; in 1801 it had risen to 7339, by 1841 to 48,567, and by 1851 to 69,673. In 1861 there were 77,693 inhabitants in the municipal borough, and 87,317 within the parliamentary limits, the number of houses being respectively 12,727 and 13,983, while in 1871 the municipal borough had a population of 90,011, inhabiting 14,438 houses, and the parliamentary borough 103,758, with 16,284. See Lower s History of Sussex, 1870, and papers in the Sussex Archccoloyical


Plan of Brighton.