Monday, March 4, 2019

Ahhhh, Brighton

Regency London is fascinating, Regency Bath is charming, but oh, Regency Brighton captures my heart and imagination. The seaside location, the humble origins, the rapid growth under the patronage of the Prince of Wales and the extravagance of the subsequent Prince in his Regency--it is all fodder for imagination and story-telling.

It can be difficult however, to get a clear picture of Brighton during the early years of the 19th century. One of the best of the contemporary reports on the town in my opinion, is Attree's Topography of Brighton.

I have not been able to discern which member of the Attree family was responsible for the book. The Attrees were a prominent and long-established family of Brighton. William Attree who died in 1810, was a lawyer and Clerk to the Town Commissioners, and was sometimes known as the King of Brighton. He had a brother Harry who may be the H. R. Attree on the title page above; William also had at least eight children.

Whichever Attree prepared the 'Topography', he/she did a grand job. The detail is remarkable and certainly shows a long familiarity with the town and its surroundings.
Attree unashamedly displays his admiration of the town.
The Pavilion of course is among the first places to be described. Its exterior at the early date was substantial but without the Eastern flair it later displayed.

And he does go on to describe every major room in all its highly decorated glory. But he also describes the town, street by street, almost building by building.

And he describes businesses: printing offices, coach offices, carriers' wagon offices and the post office. As well he recommends inns, the Old Ship Inn among others, and
 and boarding houses:
The Royal Circus is described as a building "exceedingly well adapted for the purpose for which it is intended...and its decorations
I could go on excerpting but this post is already long enough. You can find the book at Google Books and download it free for your reference use. Attree appended to the Topography a 'Picture of Roads' that lead to the town. It is as exhaustive and descriptive as his Topography; all the towns and villages nearby Bath are detailed.

If you are interested in the history of Brighton, I can recommend the following books as well:
New Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Rose Collis, Tim Carder
Historical Brighton: An Illustrated History of Brighton and its Citizens (Classic Reprint) by J. P. C. Winhip
A History of Brighton & Hove by Ken Fines
The Coach Roads to Brighton by Geoffrey Hewlett
and particularly,
Life in Brighton by Clifford Musgrave

If you enter Brighton in this blog's search box, you will find other posts about this interesting English town. Enjoy!

'Til next time,

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