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bits and pieces on Brighton and thee beyond…..

Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society Walk

Posted by Sara on February 7, 2009

stnicks1January 25th

The last Sunday in January we went on an interesting and absorbing winter walk around Old Brighton, courtesy of the Brighton Archaeological society. The walk began on a wet (very wet!) Sunday afternoon outside St Nicholas Church on Dyke Road. This church is the oldest building in Brighton and its ancient cemetery provides the final resting place for a few of the city’s well known historical characters, including Phoebe Hessel and Martha Gunn.

From the St Nicholas we made our way to another churchyard, this time belonging to the Brighthelm centre on North Road, where we learnt that it was here, during a recent building works, where developers unearthed a vast underground set of catacombs, believed to be a mass burial site for cholera victims. We then continued down Church Street, a very lively and popular area of Brighton that was a haven for thieves, prostitutes and pick pockets in the 18th and 19th centuries. Pausing briefly at the corner of Jubilee St, the site of a lot of new development, we were told of the old stables and factory that used to belong here and how this was traditionally a farming area. This is hard to believe as you take in the surrounding ultra modern architecture, including the fantastic Jubilee library, but there are still traces of the past still visible, including an old farmhouse tucked away on Jubilee Street.

Victoria Gardens

Victoria Gardens

royal-pav2As we made our way to the Lanes and Brighton’s ‘Old Town’, pausing briefly to hear about the secret passages and underground tunnels in the Royal Pavilion, we learned of the archers who practiced the long bow nearby, of the rise and fall of the fishing industry and how the city’s fortunes were restored in the 1750’s by Dr Russell, who wrote a book extolling the virtues of bathing in sea water. We finished off by the Town Hall in Bartholomew Square, the site of a small chapel and priory dating back to 1100’s.

The walk lasted approximately 90 minutes during which our guide, John, was a mine of information on Brighton past and present. We would definitely recommend this walk to anyone who wants to learn more about local history and the Brighton and Hove archaeological society run a varied lecture programme of lectures and guided walks based on local history and sites of archaeological interest. More can be found about them on their web page:http://www.brightonarch.org.uk.

Victoria Gardens

Victoria Gardens

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