Palmeira Square (/pælˈmɪərə/) is a mid-19th-century residential
development in Hove, part of the English city and seaside resort of
Brighton and Hove. At the southern end it adjoins Adelaide Crescent,
another architectural set-piece which leads down to the seafront;
large terraced houses occupy its west and east sides, separated by a
public garden; and at the north end is one of Hove's main road
junctions. This is also called Palmeira Square, and its north side is
lined with late 19th-century terraced mansions. Commercial buildings
and a church also stand on the main road, which is served by many
buses (some of which terminate there).
The land was originally occupied by "the world's largest
conservatory", the Anthaeum—a visitor attraction planned by
botanist, author and building promoter Henry Phillips. The giant
dome's collapse and total destruction on the day it was due to open in
1833 made Phillips go blind from shock, and the debris occupied the
site for many years. Work began in the early 1850s and was largely
complete in the mid-1860s, although commercial and residential
buildings such as Palmeira House and
Gwydyr Mansions continued to be
added at the northern end throughout the late 19th century. English
Heritage has listed the residential buildings on the western, eastern
and northern sides of the square at Grade II for their architectural
and historical importance, although one building has the higher Grade
II* status because of its opulent custom-designed interior.
5.1 The square
5.2 Surrounding buildings
6 See also
The ancient parish of
Hove covered 778 acres (315 ha) of good
agricultural land on the southern slopes of the South Downs, leading
down to the English Channel. There was Celtic and Roman occupation of
the area, and a Bronze Age barrow was found close to Palmeira
Square's northern end when the land was being developed. Inside was a
wooden coffin, a stone axe, a bronze dagger and the
Hove amber cup,
a relic of national significance now held at the
Brighton Museum &
Art Gallery. Some estimates dated the barrow as early as 1500
BC, but radiocarbon dating indicates the burial took place in
about 1239 BC.
Palmeira Square lies north of Adelaide Crescent. Church Road and
Western Road form its northern side.
One of the main farms was Wick Farm, which covered about 250 acres
(100 ha) of land immediately west of the parish boundary with
Brighton. The first post-Norman Conquest landowners were the de
Pierpoints; in 1573 the estate was bought by the Stapley family, of
Anthony Stapley became famous as one of the regicides of King
Charles I. In 1701 it was acquired by the Scutt family from Brighton.
Western Road and its continuation Church Road, the earliest
east–west route through Hove, bisected the estate.
On the land was a chalybeate spring, later called St Ann's Well, which
became a popular visitor attraction by the mid-18th century. In the
early 19th century, its fashionable reputation increased as
Brighton began to grow rapidly as a high-class seaside
resort. Following the lead of Queen Adelaide, who would ride to St
Ann's Well to visit the spa and take the waters, wealthy residents
and visitors to
Brighton travelled across the parish boundary to walk
round the gardens, visit the ornate pump-room and enjoy the apparently
health-giving properties of the iron-rich water.
The houses on the west side were completed first.
An "elegantly handled ... double curve" marks the transition from
Adelaide Crescent (foreground) to Palmeira Square. The Enclosures
belonging to the houses have pathways and shrubs.
Rev. Thomas Scutt, who owned the Wick Estate land by the 1820s,
started to sell plots of land to "capitalis[e] on the insatiable
demand for building land along the seafront". Brunswick Town was the
first result of this, and when
Sir Isaac Goldsmid, 1st Baronet
Sir Isaac Goldsmid, 1st Baronet bought
the rest of the land (over 216 acres (87 ha)) in 1830 he
continued Hove's residential expansion by commissioning Decimus Burton
to design Adelaide Crescent and by agreeing to fund the
construction of "the world's largest dome" at its northern end. The
ostentatious Anthaeum, proposed by botanist and horticultural writer
Henry Phillips and designed by prominent local architect Amon Henry
Wilds, was to have been a vast circular conservatory containing exotic
plants and trees. It was built between 1832 and 1833 but collapsed
spectacularly the day before its scheduled opening date, making
Phillips go blind from shock and apparently distressing
Goldsmid so much that he abandoned any further plans for development
of his land for 20 years—during which time the wrecked glass and
iron structure lay where it fell at the north end of the incomplete
In the early 1850s, Goldsmid (who had been given the title Baron de
Goldsmid e de Palmeira by the Queen of Portugal in 1845)
decided to restart development at Adelaide Crescent. He abandoned the
original plan for a horseshoe-shape plan and in 1851 commissioned an
unknown architect to extend it northwards into a bottle shape, north
of which (on the site of the Anthaeum) would be a new residential
square: Palmeira Square. The remains of the Anthaeum were
cleared in the early 1850s (or possibly as late as 1855), and work
Houses on the west side of the square, close to the western boundary
of the Wick Estate land, were the first to be built. The
southernmost houses on each side are attached to the north end of
Adelaide Crescent, which was completed in the early 1860s;
"the transition from crescent into square is most elegantly handled in
a double curve". Between 1855 and 1870, 34 houses were built, all
in the same "vigorous and healthy" post-Regency Victorian/Italianate
style. It took several years for the houses to be occupied.
Numbers 33 and 34 on the west side were the first to be taken, in
1859, and by 1866 none of the 17 houses on that side were empty. The
first house on the east side was let in 1864, and it took ten years
for the whole square to be occupied. Early residents included a
wine merchant, a factory owner, and Lady Emily Fletcher who shared the
house with her mother, five children and nine servants.
St John the Baptist's Church serves the area.
An Anglican church to serve the area was provided in 1854. St John the
Baptist's Church, a flint-built Decorated Gothic Revival building with
a landmark spire, was designed by William and Edward Habershon. Work
began in 1852, and the site (at the northwest corner of Palmeira
Square, where it joined Church Road) "compels traffic to take an
abrupt turn before proceeding westward". It may have been built there
to block attempts to build a road north from the
Palmeira Square area
into the mostly undeveloped land to the north which later became the
Cliftonville area of Hove. In keeping with the high-class
surroundings, the church was "for many years one of the most
fashionable" in either
Brighton or Hove.
The houses of
Palmeira Square were separated from Church Road by a
private road which ran parallel (east–west) to the main road,
creating a second square of open space. Only residents of Palmeira
Adelaide Crescent could gain entry to it; there was a chain
across each entrance and a watchman controlled admission. Church
Road itself was laid out as a thoroughfare in 1851; until then it had
been a footpath. In the same year, an Act of Parliament (the
Brunswick Square Improvement Extension Act) was passed to bring
Palmeira Square and nearby developments into the jurisdiction of the
Brunswick Square Commissioners. Had this Act not been passed, the
square would have been governed solely by "the rather nebulous
authority of the Parish officials of Hove". One consequence was
that Sir Francis Goldsmid (who inherited his father Sir Isaac's estate
on 1859) was able to delegate responsibility for the maintenance of
Palmeira Square Enclosure (the garden between the west and east
sides) to the Brunswick Square Commissioners from April 1865.
Previously Goldsmid himself had to employ and pay a gardener.
33 Palmeira Mansions has an ostentatious late Victorian interior.
In 1891, the
Hove Commissioners (who now had civic responsibility for
the square) tried to make the private road north of the square a
public thoroughfare by removing the barriers. Objections from the
residents delayed this plan for several years, but the road did
eventually open to the public. Accordingly, the land to the north
was now considered part of the
Palmeira Square area, and the
development as a whole consists of two garden squares. The first is
the original development bounded to the south by Adelaide Crescent, to
the north by the former private road which is now a widened
continuation of Western Road and to the west by the 34 houses of the
square. The second is the lawned section formed by the junction
between the extension of Western Road, Church Road and the connections
between them, and all the surrounding buildings of the late 19th
Gwydyr Mansions date from 1890.
The open land in between these roads was laid out with grass and was
named the Palmeira Mansions Enclosures after the "very fine" Palmeira
Mansions were built on the north side of Church Road in 1883–84,
effectively forming a new north side to Palmeira Square. Local
architect Henry Lanchester designed the mansions and Jabez Reynolds
built them. Some of the houses were still unoccupied by 1891 because
of a slowdown in the property market. Despite this slump, another
local firm, Clayton & Black, designed
Gwydyr Mansions on an
adjacent site in 1890. The luxury flats, in a Flemish Renaissance
Revival style which contrasts with their Italianate
neighbours, had an integrated bank, barber's shop and residents'
restaurant. In 1889, businessman A.W. Mason (owner of Mason's Ink)
bought 33 Palmeira Mansions and in 1899 commissioned S.H. Diplock to
give it a new interior according to "the most extreme Victorian
theatrical taste". This building is now owned by The English
Language Centre Brighton, a language school. Tours of the interior are
a feature of the annual
Brighton Fringe Festival.
This floral clock was inaugurated in 1953.
On 2 June 1953—the day of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II—a
floral clock commemorating the event was unveiled in the centre of the
Palmeira Mansions Enclosures.
Hove Council's Director of Parks and
Cemeteries, G.A. Hyland, was the designer. Its slightly raised
circular design may be a reference to the nearby Bronze Age
barrow, which was destroyed by building work at the north end of the
square in 1857. It was the only one on the Sussex coast and was larger
than examples found on the South Downs. (The centre of the site is at
50°49′39″N 0°09′49″W / 50.8275°N 0.1637°W /
50.8275; -0.1637 (Site of Bronze Age barrow, Hove, Sussex), about
100 yards (91 m) north-northeast of St John the Baptist's
Church). The clock had a double face—the first floral clock in
the world to have this feature—each with a diameter of 9 feet
(2.7 m). Clockmakers James Richie & Son, who had designed a
floral clock in Edinburgh, provided the mechanism. About 35,000
flowers were initially planted, and special temporary floral designs
were sometimes put in—for example, to commemorate
Hove Albion F.C.'s
Football League Third Division South title win in
1958, the Queen's Silver Jubilee of 1977 and the
Bloom competition in 1998. Vandalism has been a recurrent problem
since the 1980s, though.
According to a watercolour by an unknown artist (
Adelaide Crescent and
Palmeira Square, 1895) which was sold at auction in 2002, five tennis
courts were intended for the
Palmeira Square Enclosures. No work
towards these plans was ever carried out.
Written in the original deeds to each house was a requirement that the
exterior of the building and its attached railings and doors had to be
painted every three years. This was updated in 1892 to state that
"three coats of best oil paint" in a pale stone colour had to be used.
Observance of this rule lapsed over time until
Hove Council reinforced
it in the 1970s—stating that magnolia paint had to be used.
Other stipulations added at various times included the maximum number
of flats each house could be converted into and a prohibition of
drying laundry where it could be seen from outside. Many houses
have been converted into flats, including numbers 2–5 (in 1919), 7
(1922), 8 (1921), 10 and 11 (1927), 20 (1932) and 30–34
Palmeira Square is the starting point for route 25 to Sussex and
Brighton Universities. Palmeira Mansions are in the background.
Palmeira Square is a key destination for the city's buses: many serve
it en route to other destinations, and the high-frequency route 25
terminates there. The following routes, all operated by the
Hove bus company, stop at Palmeira Square:
1/1A (Mile Oak–Whitehawk)
5/5A/5B (Hangleton–Patcham/University of Sussex)
6 (Downs Park–
Brighton railway station)
20X (Steyning–Old Steine)
25 (Palmeira Square–University of Sussex)
49 (Portslade railway station–East Moulsecoomb)
21/21A (Goldstone Valley/Sussex County Cricket Ground–Open
Coastliner 700 service from
Brighton to Southsea, operated by
Stagecoach South, also serves the square. The nearest railway
station is Hove, 1 mile (1.6 km) to the north.
Miron Grindea had a flat in number 1 Palmeira
Square during the 1970s. Number 2 was home to Sir Isaac Goldsmid's
daughter in the late 19th century. Lawyer and writer H. S. Cunningham
kcie lived at number 3, and Sir Julian Goldsmid, 3rd Baronet lived
next door at number 4; he died there in 1896. Architect John C.L.
Iredel, a member of the Chichester Diocesan Panel of Architects who
designed the former Emmanuel Church in
Worthing in 1975–76 and
Buxted parish church six years earlier, lived at number 8 and
died there in 1990. On the east side of the square, Henry
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid lived at number 18 during the 1950s. Lord George
Montacute Nevill (son of William Nevill, 1st Marquess of Abergavenny)
and his wife Florence owned number 22; he died there in 1920. Next
door at number 23,
William FitzClarence, 2nd Earl of Munster
William FitzClarence, 2nd Earl of Munster lived
with his wife Wilhelmina Kennedy-Erskine. They were still living there
at the time of their deaths in 1901 and 1906 respectively. Other
residents of the square at various times have included diplomat and
Shane Leslie and Peter Birkett, who designed boats in which
Richard Branson won transatlantic races in 1986 and 1989.
Palmeira Mansions (7–19 pictured) are listed at Grade II.
The east and west sides of
Palmeira Square have been listed separately
at Grade II by English Heritage, and Palmeira Mansions at the north
side of the square has also been listed at this grade under two
separate listings. Grade II status is awarded to "nationally
important" buildings of "special interest". As of February 2001
there were 1,124 such buildings in the city. The east side
(numbers 1–17) and west side (numbers 18–30) were listed
on 10 September 1971. Numbers 7–19 Church Road (Rochester Mansions,
Palmeira Mansions and Palmeira Avenue Mansions) and 21–31 Church
Road (the other sections of Palmeira Avenue Mansions and Palmeira
Mansions) were listed on 4 February 1981. Number 33 Palmeira
Mansions was listed at the higher Grade II* on 18 July 1978; such
buildings are defined as "particularly important [and] of more than
special interest". There were 70 Grade II*-listed buildings in the
Hove as of February 2001.
Palmeira Square forms part of the 95.92-acre (38.82 ha) Brunswick
Town Conservation Area, one of 34 conservation areas in the city of
Brighton and Hove. This area was designated by the council in
Hove City Council's report on the area's
character states that
Palmeira Square contributes to "one of the
finest examples of Regency and early Victorian planning and
architecture in the country".
The houses of
Palmeira Square have stuccoed façades and rise to five
Palmeira Square is "quite different from Adelaide
Crescent or Brunswick Square ... when
Victorian architecture was out
of fashion, [it was] condemned as being heavily Italianate".
Having been "one of the most notorious examples" of the tendency in
Hove for residential developments to take much longer
than planned, it developed as a natural evolution of the style of
neighbouring Adelaide Crescent. Begun as a Regency-style set-piece,
this developed in a Neo-Renaissance direction, before work resumed
in the 1850s in a simpler post-Regency style.
Palmeira Square was then
built in a "more full-blooded" interpretation of this
Victorian/Italianate theme. Palmeira Mansions, completed nearly 30
years after work started on the square, were designed in the same
style and contribute to the square as a single composition,
"continuing its ... grandeur and scale". Palmeira Square's style,
marking the transition from Regency into Victorian Italianate, has
been likened to the terraces around London's Hyde Park that were built
at the same time. Architectural historians
Ian Nairn and
Nikolaus Pevsner, writing in the 1960s, stated that this gave the
square "architectural interest" but "little architectural merit",
though. Another author, comparing the houses with those of Adelaide
Crescent, wrote of "an undisguised Victorianism of a vigorous and
healthy, but nevertheless decidedly inferior, quality".
The 17 houses of the west side[note 1] form a long, straight terrace
of five storeys. Under their stucco façades is brick, rubble and
bungaroosh—a composite building material commonly found behind
stucco in 18th- and 19th-century buildings in
Hove. Each house has three windows to each storey (either
blocked or containing a sash window, and pilasters and quoins between
some of the neighbouring buildings mark the terrace out into a
symmetrical five-part composition which has been described as either
2–4–5–4–2 or 2–5–3–5–2. The top storey is in
the form of an attic, and the treatment of the windows is different:
they are on a moulded cornice, and some are arched. On the floor
below, the windows are surrounded by
Vitruvian scroll patterns, and at
the storey below that they are flanked by pilasters which hold up an
entablature and small pediment. A cast iron balcony surrounds the
first-floor bay windows and is supported by the top of the
Doric-columned entrance porch, which has a stuccoed balustrade.
According to one writer, "the heavy emphasis of [these] porches
give[s] the square an air of respectable solidity"—as do the heavy
doors with their recessed panels, moulded ornamentation and
decorative fanlights. Original interior fittings include a large
"Jacobean-cum-Baroque" chimneypiece in the hall of number 32.
H.J. Lanchester's Palmeira Mansions of 1883–84 (21–31 pictured)
are in the same style as the rest of the square.
The terrace on the east side is identical, again having 17
five-storey houses with hipped slate roofs hidden behind parapets,
three-window ranges with sash windows and heavy Doric porches. As
on the west side, the house in the centre projects slightly from the
terrace and has a larger square bay window rising through the first
and second floors, forming a loggia which is supported on a colonnaded
porch with rustication.
H.J. Lanchester's Palmeira Mansions are Italianate in style, like the
houses of the square. Some are stuccoed, but others have been painted.
The walls are of brick and the roofs have slate tiles. The outermost
houses (7, 19 and 21) have entrances set in their side elevations.
Each house is five storeys including an attic storey, which has dormer
windows added in the 20th century. Each house has a three-window
range, and the centremost building is topped by a curved
gable. That at numbers 7-19 has a heraldic emblem, possibly
that of Sir Isaac Goldsmid, in its tympanum. The outermost
buildings have full-height canted bays. Each storey is separated by a
string-course across the full width of the building. The first-floor
windows are arched and set forward slightly below an entablature and a
central pediment. Straight-headed windows on the floor above are
embellished with scrollwork, individual pediments and a bracketed
entablature. At third-floor level, slightly round-headed windows are
set in square recesses. At first-floor level, a cast iron balcony runs
across the width of the building; it is supported by the
Doric-columned porches in front of each entrance.
Number 33, the other end of the western section of Palmeira Mansions,
is listed separately at Grade II* for its "outstanding" and
"remarkable collection of fittings from the 1880s" (A.W. Mason
bought the house in 1889, although the work may not have been
completed until 1899). These include multicoloured marbled floors,
staircases, handrails, panelling, columns and dado rails; lincrusta
wallpaper; gilded ceilings in a Moorish style; stained glass in
various styles; ostentatious chimneypieces, including one by Doulton
and others with "riotous swirling motifs"; an overmantel made of
Venetian glass; decorative light fittings depicting cherubim and
serpents; ceramic tiles by Arts and Crafts designer Walter Crane; and
a Rococo-style former ballroom.
Thomas Lainson designed Palmeira House in 1887.
Gwydyr Mansions is at the northeastern corner of the square, between
Rochester Gardens and Holland Road. An opulent set of mansion flats
designed by local firm Clayton & Black in 1890, it is in the
Flemish Renaissance style and combines ashlar and red brick in its
"busy" façade. The entrance has Classical elements, with Tuscan
columns in antis beneath a pediment; elsewhere, there elaborate
gables, turrets and canted bay and oriel windows.
Palmeira House, designed in 1887 by
Thomas Lainson of Lainson &
Sons, was that firm's first building for the
Brighton & Hove
Co-operative Supply Association. It is a "richly Italianate"
stucco-clad office building. Opposite, Zephania King's ornate
Tudor Revival-style branch building for the London and County Bank
(now offices), with tall chimneys and gables, was completed in
St John the Baptist's Church, the Anglican church serving the area,
was built between 1852 and 1854 to the design of William and Edward
Habershon. The flint and ashlar building is Decorated Gothic
Revival in style and has a later tower (built in the 1870s) topped
with a tall stone broach spire. All of the large windows have tracery
in the Decorated style. The entrance porch dates from 1906–07. The
worship space was cut down in 1990–92 when part of the building was
converted by architect Mark Hills into the Cornerstone Community
Centre. This required the addition of a tall steel-framed structure
and a new glazed opening in the roof.
Grade II* listed buildings in
Brighton and Hove
List of conservation areas in
Brighton and Hove
^ Numbers 31–34 inclusive have not been listed by English Heritage;
they were converted into flats called Palmeira Court in 1910.
^ a b Middleton 1979, p. 1.
^ a b c d Nairn & Pevsner 1965, p. 454.
^ a b c Middleton 2002, Vol. 7, p. 81.
^ a b Middleton 2002, Vol. 15, p. 87.
^ Middleton 2002, Vol. 15, p. 86.
^ a b
Brighton Polytechnic. School of Architecture and Interior Design
1987, p. 84.
^ Antram & Morrice 2008, p. 112.
^ Middleton 1979, p. 2.
^ a b Dale 1950, p. 82.
^ Middleton 1979, pp. 24–25.
^ Antram & Morrice 2008, p. 113.
^ a b c d e Antram & Morrice 2008, p. 121.
^ a b Middleton 2002, Vol. 1, p. 73.
^ a b c Dale 1967, p. 155.
^ a b c d e f Antram & Morrice 2008, p. 120.
^ Gilbert 1975, p. 155.
^ a b Antram & Morrice 2008, p. 119.
^ a b c d
Brighton Polytechnic. School of Architecture and Interior
Design 1987, p. 85.
^ Antram & Morrice 2008, p. 118.
^ a b c d Dale 1967, p. 156.
^ a b c d Middleton 2002, Vol. 10, p. 17.
^ a b Antram & Morrice 2008, pp. 122–123.
^ Gilbert 1975, p. 173.
^ Dale 1967, p. 157.
^ a b Dale 1967, p. 158.
^ Middleton 2002, Vol. 10, pp. 17–18.
^ a b c d e f g h Antram & Morrice 2008, p. 122.
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^ Middleton 2002, Vol. 10, p. 14.
^ a b Antram & Morrice 2008, p. 123.
^ a b c Antram & Morrice 2008, p. 124.
^ "33 Palmeira Mansions". The English Language Centre Ltd. 2012.
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^ Middleton 2002, Vol. 10, pp. 2–3.
^ a b c d Middleton 2002, Vol. 10, p. 19.
^ a b Middleton 2002, Vol. 10, p. 18.
^ Cheesman 2012, p. 56.
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^ a b "
Images of England — Statistics by County (East Sussex)".
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^ Historic England. "Nos. 1–17
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attached railings (Grade II) (1298646)". National Heritage List
for England. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
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^ a b c Historic England. "No. 33 Palmeira Mansions (Grade II*)
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Hove & Portslade.
Nairn, Ian; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1965). The Buildings of England:
Sussex. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-071028-0.
Buildings and architecture of
Brighton and Hove
Listed buildings: Grade I
Grade II: A–B
Places of worship
List of places of worship (see list for links to individual articles)
List of demolished places of worship
French Convalescent Home
Grand Ocean, Saltdean
75 Holland Road
New England Quarter
Percy and Wagner Almshouses
Portslade Manor (ruined)
Regency Town House
Van Alen Building
Citibase Brighton, 95 Ditchling Road
Gothic House, 95–96 Western Road
20–22 Marlborough Place
155–158 North Street
163 North Street
2–3 Pavilion Buildings
Princes House, 166–169 North Street
9 Pool Valley
Brighton General Hospital
Brighton Town Hall
Hove Town Hall
Ovingdean Hall School
Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital
Royal Sussex County Hospital
The Montefiore Hospital
University of Brighton
University of Sussex
Schools: List of former board schools
Blatchington Mill School
Brighton Aldridge Community Academy
Hove High School
Brighton College Preparatory School
Cardinal Newman RC School
The Dharma School
Dorothy Stringer High School
Hove Park School
Longhill High School
Ovingdean Hall School
Patcham High School
Portslade Aldridge Community Academy
St Aubyns School
Hotels and inns
Grand (1984 bombing)
Inns and pubs: The Cricketers
Hangleton Manor Inn
King and Queen
Royal Pavilion Tavern
Brighton Dome and Studio (Pavilion) Theatre
Brighton Hippodrome (former)
Duke of York's Picture House
King Alfred Centre
Marlborough Pub and Theatre
Regent Cinema (demolished)
Museums: Booth Museum
Brighton Fishing Museum
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Hove Museum and Art Gallery
Brighton Palace Pier
Royal Suspension Chain Pier
Royal Suspension Chain Pier (demolished)
Beacon Mill, Rottingdean
Waterhall Mill, Patcham
West Blatchington Windmill
11 Dyke Road
Hove War Memorial
Steine House (YMCA)
Whitehawk Hill transmitting station
Cemeteries and crematoria
Architects: Charles Busby
Clayton & Black
John Leopold Denman
Gilbert Murray Simpson