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Posts Tagged ‘Brighton Walks and Talks’

Burning the Clocks 2008

Posted by Sara on December 22, 2008

Same Sky

Same Sky

Sunday 21st December – To celebrate the shortest day we head down to the lanes to catch the start of the Burning the Clocks. This is a very popular annual event in Brighton and features a fantastic array of handmade paper and willow lanterns that are paraded through the city and culminates in them all being burnt on the beach as part of a huge bonfire and firework display as a token to mark the end of the year.

This is the fifteenth year for the Burning of the clocks and it’s a special one for organizers Same Sky as it is their 21st birthday.

funny clock

funny clock

samba-manWe catch the beginning of the parade up near Ship street and, helped along by at least three samba bands and some great acrobatic dancers, we follow the procession as it slowly snakes its way through the narrow streets down to the beach. On the seafront off Madeira drive a huge clock shaped pyre beckons and there is much merriment and dancing around.

Those of us too slovenly to make a lantern this year aren’t left out as there are lots of nice men wheeling shopping trolleys full of fluorescent light sabers we can buy to wave around and look silly with.

elephants never forget

elephants never forget

This is a very popular event and with a crowd of 20 thousand in attendance we decide to chow on some hot chestnuts and wander back to watch the fireworks from the pier. Each lamp is hand made and as they are thrown into the fire the lantern bearers make wishes for the coming year. A firework display on the beach marks the end of the event. The perfect antidote to a consumer led Christmas and very magical way to greet the solstice.


happy solstice!!

happy solstice!!


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The Lanes Ghost Walk

Posted by Sara on December 21, 2008

Brighton Lanes Ghost Walk

sign113th December 2008 – It was on this damp and windy night we found ourselves outside the Druids Head pub in the lanes waiting for our host to lead us into the darker corners of Brighton’s past.The Ghost Walk of the Lanes runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from May till December and starts prompt at 7.30pm.

Our guide was the splendiferously attired Rob Marks. Unfortunately our camera ‘mysteriously‘ failed on this excursion so we are unable to provide any decent photo’s of him decked out in all his Victorian finery accompanied by his macabre props. Instead you will just have to make do with a poster and some photos taken a few days later.

From the Druid’s head, reputed to be the most haunted pub in Brighton and built near a stone circle,town-hall we traversed to the Town Hall to learn of ghostly monks and gruesome murders. We were then led to Old Steine, an area of open land near the sea front dominated by a gloriously grotesque huge Victorian fountain. This is the favourite haunt of what must be one of the most horrifically mutilated ghosts to ever flutter around this earth – the poor old John Robinson, an 18th century adventurer whose eyes were burnt out with hot irons in Persia. Destitute and destined to a life left begging in Tehran he eventually made it back to his home town in Brighton only to die soon after. It is rumoured that those who see him never forget the sight of the Arabic looking man, with eyes “gouged out so deep the bone of his skull can be seen with maggots still eating away at the rotting flesh on his face”.

Those kindly folk in the 1800’s even had a ditty for him which goes:

“Don’t ye dally, darling dear, in Brighton‘s city clear

The ghost of old John Robinson is waiting for ye there.

If ye look into his face, you’ll end your days that night.

For he’ll steal your eyes from you to give a beggar sight.

Our next stop was Dr Brightons and then on to the Northern Lights, a very convivial Scandinavian bar haunted by an even friendlier ghost. We were led upstairs and, for the bargain price of £1, were each treated to a shot of ‘fishermen’s friend’ – a special beverage concocted in honour of the fisherman who now haunts the place. The warmth from the fire and the alcohol were a welcome break from the cold outside and it was with some reluctance we left Northern Lights to make our way back to the lanes, reputably Brighton’s most haunted quarter.


the bricked up doorway in the lanes

Twisting and turning through Black Lion and Meeting House Lanes we were regaled with tales of amorous ghosts and mysterious nuns haunting bricked up doorways and cottages dating back to the 1500’s. Our last stop was the Cricketer’s Arms pub, where Graham Greene wrote much of Brighton Rock, and once thought to have housed one of Britain’s most notorious murderers – Jack the Ripper. Robert D’onston is one of the prime suspects in the Ripper case and hospital records show he resided here back in 1888. On several occasions a pale man wearing a long black cloak has been spotted by the manager and the pub is said to be the site of poltergeist activity including bottles and glasses falling off shelves, slamming doors and the sound of footsteps climbing the stairs.

From there it was a short stroll back to the Druids Head for a well deserved drink at the end of the tour. Although we didn’t see any ghosts that evening we all found it great fun and a cracking way to learn about the history of the area. The walk itself covers a relatively short distance and lasts approximate 70 minutes. A bargain and definitely recommended.

**STOP PRESS** What great news to find out this event is still going strong in 2012! I have been sent a recent update by Rob Marks which reads – 

Join actor and master storyteller, Rob Marks, as the mysterious Silas the Ghost Hunter, for a 70 minute walk around Brighton’s most haunted quarter. Take in the history and the spine-chilling tales whilst visiting seven of the area’s most haunted sites. Silas and his fellow storytellers, Jasper and Ebenezer, perform in full Victorian attire complete with Gladstone bag, which holds a few surprises!

The show runs every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday from outside the Druid’s Head pub, Brighton Place (The Lanes). Seven nights a week throughout June, July and August!

Private bookings can be for any night of the week. £8 Adults, £4 Children, £5 Seniors & Students, Family Ticket £20 (2 adults, 2 children).

•     Name:Ghost Walk of the Lanes

•     City:Brighton

•     Telephone:01273 328927 / 07522 605524


Posted in Brighton Unexplained, Brighton Walks and Talks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Lit Lit Trail

Posted by Sara on November 23, 2008

Clock Tower - Toxic Love

Clock Tower - Toxic Love

Lit Lit Trail

What did we do with the extra hour when the clocks went back this autumn? We went for a walk of course, courtesy of the very first White Night in Brighton and Hove. The Lit Lit tour was part of a series of events being held across Brighton to mark the end of British Summer Time and promised to be a ‘trip through the city’s psyche, geography and history at night through 11 revelations’. We met outside the library in Jubilee square at Midnight and from there a group of about thirty of us followed our guide to specific locations across Brighton.

The theme of the evening was Love and each location had been chosen for a specific story it could tell. The Clock Tower, pictured above, was the location for the scenario entitled Toxic Love; for it was near here, in a sweet shop in West street, that Christiana Edmund bought the sweets she laced with poison in order to win the love of the handsome Dr Beard.

Each location had been illuminated to match the story and the effects, from the deep pink bejewelled town hall pictured below (which I thought featured the most movingly poignant story) to the more subdued but incredibly evocative candle lit grave in St Nicholas’ churchyard, were dazzling. All in all the walk was an amazing experience; not least due to the story telling skills of our guide who really brought the tales to life, despite the many interruptions from puzzled drunks and passers by!

Town Hall - Everlasting Love

Town Hall - Everlasting Love

For more info check out http://whitenightbrightonandhove.com/

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The Sewer Tour

Posted by Sara on November 14, 2008


tunnel4On Saturday 27th September we went on a tour of the Victorian sewerage system of Brighton, organised by Southern Water. At 11am we met under the Palace Pier, outside Arch 260 and the group of about 15 of us were led into a small room where we were issued with passes, hard hats and gloves. After a short talk and video the tour started. We were led through a small underground tunnel into the first of the sewer chambers. The smell takes some getting used to – though as the 11am group we were told we had gotten off lightly and it was the 9am group who had suffered the full brunt of the Friday night / Saturday morning sewage aroma special. The sewers date back to the 1870’s and the architecture is amazing, comprising of cavernous underground brick work tunnels intercepted by chambers of various sizes. We were led deeper and deeper underground past rushing storm waters and through sewer shafts, some of which had been tagged by a well known Brazilian graffiti artist. After about an hour we climbed up a ladder to emerge above ground in the Old Steine. The guides were knowledgeable and informative and the sewers themselves are remarkable examples of engineering. For all you lovers of everything subterranean, Victorian and Gothic this is definitely a tour worth doing. For more information go to www.southernwater.co.uk


Bricked up tunnel

Bricked up tunnel


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The Station Tour

Posted by Sara on August 24, 2008

The station tour

Brighton station tunnel

Brighton station tunnel

On Sunday July 27th we went on a tour of Brighton Station as part of the Fabrica Hidden Architecture event. Fabrica is a visual arts organisation based in a former Regency church in the heart of Brighton, for more information check out http://www.fabrica.org.uk

The tour was free and we met up outside Brighton station for 12pm. Our tour guide was Jackie Marsh Hobbs. We were led through the station to the office space located above the ticket office to the front of the station. After a talk on the history of the station we were led around to the entrance on Trafalgar Street which leads to a tunnel that now runs under the station. We entered through the large wooden doors, seen opposite the Prince Albert pub, into a tunnel which runs through to the end of platform eight. It has a cobbled floor and lies directly below the train tracks. A train was waiting directly above us and as it left the platform we could follow its progress by the changing lights through the gaps in the ceiling above.

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