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Brighton

From Academic Kids

This article is about the English city; for other places called Brighton, see Brighton (disambiguation).
Brighton
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Brighton

OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
Administration
Borough:Brighton & Hove
Region:South East England
Nation:England
Other
Ceremonial County:East Sussex
Traditional County:Sussex
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:BRIGHTON
Postcode:BN1, BN2
Dialling Code:01273

Brighton in East Sussex is one of the largest and most famous seaside resorts in England. Brighton and Hove form a single conurbation but Brighton's lively atmosphere is a direct contrast to its near neighbour which has quieter and more refined character. The two boroughs were joined together to form the unitary authority of Brighton and Hove in 1997, which in 2000 was granted city status.

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Summertime in Brighton
Contents

Early history

While any British history predating the first mentions by literate Romans is, by definition, consigned to an obscured landscape known intimidatingly as 'prehistory', a few things are known about the area. Whitehawk Camp — a natural viewpoint — is bisected by Manor Road. The centre of this early Neolithic causewayed enclosure c.3500BC is someway toward the aerial mast on the south side of Manor Road, opposite the grandstand. There are four concentric circles of ditches and mounds, broken or 'causewayed' in many places. Significant vestiges of the mounds remain and you can trace their arc with the eye. Regrettably, in an act of monumental philistinism the 'Council' decreed the building of a new housing estate in the early nineties over the South Eastern portion of the enclosure. Consequently, aside from the damage to the archeology, the panoramic view has been lost and the atmosphere of the site all but destroyed. More of prehistoric Brighton and Hove can be observed just north of the small retail park on Old Shoreham Road, built over the site of the town's football ground in the late 1990's, where you can visit The Goldstone. There is a plaque telling us it was believed to be in use (ceremonial? geomantic?) around 2000BC. A standing stone circle nearby (today's Hove Park) is documented up to 1820, when the farmer had had one too many 'antiquarians' traipsing over his crop and buried the stones. After a considerable and scholarly review, Paul Harwood of Birmingham's Institute of Archaeology & Antiquity noted that there are "a concentration of Beaker burials on the fringes of the central chalklands around Brighton, and a later cluster of Early and Middle Bronze Age ‘rich graves' in the same area."

Of considerable interest from the middle Bronze Age is the Hove Amber Cup. During nineteenth century building work near Palmeira Square, workmen tasked with removing an earth mound 'excavated' a significant burial mound. A defining point on the landscape since at least 1500BC, this 20 foot high tomb yielded, amongst other treasures, the Hove Amber Cup. Made of translucent red Baltic Amber and approximately the same size as a regular china teacup, the impressive artefact can be seen in Hove Museum. Undoubtedly the single most impressive pre-Roman site in Brighton is Hollingbury Camp. Commanding panoramic views over Brighton, this Celtic Iron Age encampment is circumscribed by substantial earthwork outer walls, perhaps six to eight metres high. As a 'ball park figure', its diameter is about 300 meters.

The Romans built villas throughout Sussex and indeed there was a villa in Brighton. At the time of its construction in the first or second century AD there was a river running along what is now the tarmac of London Road. The villa was sited more or less at the water's edge, immediately south of Preston Park — which area itself would perhaps have been part of the outer grounds. The villa was excavated in the 1930s prior to the building of a (now gone) garage on the site. Numerous artefacts were found as well as the foundations of the building. In the thirties, the garage owner had a small display of Roman statues and broaches in the forecourt shop.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle contains the first mention of a settlement in the area at Beorthelm's-tun (the town of Beorthelm). In the Domesday Book, Brighton was called Bristemestune and a rent of 4000 herring was established.

From the manorial system, Preston manor lingers on today as a museum. Although the present day manor house is relatively recent in construction, the church — St Peters, currently under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust — is fourteenth century. A medieval fresco depicting the murder of Thomas a Beckett was discovered under paint following a fire in the early part of the twentieth century. As such, it is among the oldest art in Brighton. In June 1514, the fishing village then known as Brighthelmstone was burnt to the ground by the French as part of a war between the two which began as a result of the Treaty of Westminster (1511). Later on in Henry's reign, the residents of the town petitioned the monarch for defensive cannon. Part of their 'pitch' was an illustrated map (1545) showing the French raid of 1511. A display copy of the map can be seen in Hove Museum.

18th and 19th century

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Beach and sailing ships in Brighton, John Constable, 1824
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Beach and suspension bridge in Brighton, John Constable, 1824-1827

Brighton remained a small fishing village up until the 18th century. Brighthelmstone began to change in 1753 when Dr Richard Russell of Lewes published his thesis on sea bathing, which proclaimed the benefit to health of the salt water of Brighton. He set up house there and before long, the rich and the sick had started to make their way to the seaside. Currently approaching the conclusion of its ambitious restoration, Marlborough House on the Steine was built by Robert Adam in 1765 and purchased shortly afterwards by the eponymous Duke. By 1780, development of the Regency terraces had started and the town quickly became the fashionable resort of Brighton. The growth of the town was further encouraged when, in 1786, the young Prince Regent later King George IV, rented a farmhouse in order to escape from public life. Eventually he spent much of his leisure time in the town and constructed the exotic-looking Royal Pavilion, which is the town's best-known landmark. The Kemp Town estate (at the heart of the Kemptown district) was constructed between 1823 and 1855, and is a good example of Regency architecture.

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The West Pier, showing the collapse of the concert hall, before the fire.
The West Pier on 24th June 2004, after the most recent collapse.
Enlarge
The West Pier on 24th June 2004, after the most recent collapse.

Piers

The Palace Pier (renamed Brighton Pier in 2000) opened in May 1899 and is still popular. It suffered a large fire on 4 February 2003 but the damage was limited and most of the pier was able to reopen the next day.

The even older West Pier, built in 1866, has been closed since 1975 awaiting renovation. The West Pier is one of only two Grade I listed piers in the UK, the other being Clevedon Pier. Plans to renovate the pier have been opposed by some local residents who claim that the proposed new onshore structures — which the renovators need to pay for the work on the pier — would obstruct their view of the sea. The restoration is also opposed by the owners of the Brighton Pier, who reportedly see its subsidised rebuilding, were it to happen, as unfair competition.

The West Pier partially collapsed on December 29, 2002 when a walkway connecting the concert hall and pavilion fell into the sea after being battered by storms. On January 20, 2003 a further collapse saw the destruction of the concert hall in the middle of the pier. On March 28, 2003 the pavilion at the end of the pier caught fire. Firefighters were unable to save the building from destruction because of the precarious state of the walkway. The cause of the fire remains unknown. On May 12, 2003, another fire broke out, consuming most of what was left of the concert hall. Arson was suspected. On June 23, 2004 high winds caused the middle of the pier to completely collapse.

Despite all these setbacks, the owner of the site West Pier Trust remained adamant they would soon begin full restoration work. Finally, in December 2004, the trust admitted defeat, after their plans were rejected by English Heritage and the Lottery Heritage Fund. They still hope to rebuild the pier in some form, though restoration is no longer their goal.

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The Grand Hotel, on Brighton seafront in 2004, restored after the IRA bomb

IRA bombing

Main article: Brighton hotel bombing

In the early hours of October 12th 1984 an IRA bomb exploded in the Grand Hotel where leading members of the governing Conservative Party were staying. Four people were killed in the blast (including Sir Anthony Berry), and another subsequently died of her injuries. The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, narrowly escaped injury, although members of her Government were injured — most notably Norman Tebbit. However, no member of the cabinet was killed.

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17th July, 2002. The Big Beach Boutique II attracted thousands of fans to see Fatboy Slim play live.

Brighton today

In Brighton, the area occupied by the original fishing village has become The Lanes — a collection of narrow alleyways now filled with a mixture of antique shops, restaurants, bistros and pubs. That name was derived from 'Laine', which was apparently an old unit of Anglo-Saxon field measurement. The North Laine area still keeps the original spelling.

The city has a large gay community, mainly based in the Kemptown area of the city, and is home to two universities, the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton, as well as a public school, Brighton College. It is sometimes known as 'London by the Sea' because of its lively atmosphere and cosmopolitan nature and also because of the large number of visitors from London, although Brighton residents have been heard referring to London as 'Brighton by-the-land'. In the summer, thousands of young students from all over Europe gather in the city to attend language courses.

Brighton is considered a fairly radical town due to the large numbers of political movements and activities, for instance SchNEWS, a local newsletter. This has been demonstrated by the Green Party (UK) taking 22.0% of the vote of the Brighton Pavilion constituency in the 2005 general election, versus just 1.0% nationally. It has a reputation for being chilled-out and relaxed, although anyone braving Churchill Square on a Saturday afternoon might well dispute that claim, nevertheless, Brighton certainly does seem to operate at a different pace to the rest of the country.

Brighton is renowned for its lively music scene, having spawned a number of successful bands in recent years, not least Fatboy Slim, The Levellers, Supergrass, British Sea Power,The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, The Go! Team, The Love Gods, Johnny Truant, Electrelane and the Electric Soft Parade. Brighton is also fast becoming home of a thriving hardcore punk scene with bands such as The Permenant, Johnny Truant, and The Deepend making an impact at a national level. It boasts a number of record labels, including Skint Records, LOCA Records, Kayotix, Catskills, Tru Thoughts and others, and a range of celebrated clubs.

Brighton is renowned for its large number of bars — you can drink in a different bar on each day of the year. The city has over fifty churches, so you can repent your drunken sins in a different one every week of the year. Hove is seen by some as a more desirable location than Brighton and it is often referred to by locals as "Hove actually". This is because when a questioner asks a Hove resident whether they live in Brighton, they are frequently met with the response "No, Hove actually!".

Brighton is the home of Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. and the Hove ground of Sussex County Cricket Club. The cricket ground is one of only four in the UK with permanent lighting, and though not a test ground, is used for international one day matches.

Transport

Brighton railway station was built by the London & Brighton Railway in 1840. The station provides fast and frequent connections to Gatwick Airport and London Victoria, as well via the Thameslink line to London Bridge, Kings Cross and Bedford.

Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company operate the local bus service with over 250 buses. The company started in the 1880s and has been owned by the Go-Ahead Group since 1993.

Brighton in literature

Brighton in film

See also

External links

de:Brighton (England) eo:Brajtono fr:Brighton no:Brighton sv:Brighton

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