There are many things our lovely city has to be proud of, but its beautiful Regency architecture is going to be close to the top of the list, whoever is compiling it.

It’s thanks to the Prince of Wales’s (later George IV) liking for the town that it grew into a fashionable resort where anybody who was anybody soon had to have a seaside pad.

The prince’s first visit to Brighton in 1783 caused a lot of excitement and a salute was fired from the battery at the bottom of East Street which unfortunately killed the gunner. Things got better after that and he was a regular visitor to Brighton until his coronation in 1821, after which his visits became less frequent. His last stay in the town was in 1828.


His legacy is all around us from the Royal Pavilion, his fantastic seaside home, to Regency Square in the centre, Kemp Town in the east, Brunswick Town in the west and up to Montpelier. These grand houses were built for the affluent and Brighton became the country’s leading resort. Some of the grandest homes were only used by the families for a few weeks of the year.

Development of The Regency Square Conservation Area was started in the 1810s, a good two decades before the first sod was turned at Kemp Town, where architect Charles Busby and his building partner Amon Wilds were commissioned by Thomas Read Kemp to develop the estate.

Busby and Wilds were also involved in the building of Brunswick Town at around the same time.

The houses were designed for the wealthy and most had basements where the servants worked and stayed out of sight. The family lived on the ground, first and second floors where the rooms were larger, and then it was the small rooms in the attics that were used for servants’ accommodation, many of the houses even had separate staircases so servants could move between floors without encountering their employers.

Some of the houses had impressive ballrooms and, while most have now been divided into apartments, there are many grand rooms left.

Although these crescents, terraces and squares look good they were often put up hastily using an inferior local building material known as bungaroosh, but thankfully they have survived and now make up some of the finest Regency buildings in the country.

They are still highly prized and highly valued homes.

The low quality building materials were responsible for a lot of structural problems and dilapidation in many of the houses and at one time the future of Brunswick Town hung in the balance as councillors considered flattening the lot and replacing them with Art Deco towers.

Thankfully, the councillors stayed the hand of the wrecking ball operator and, today, this historic area of Hove is still famous for its Regency squares, terraces and crescents.

It was to fight the threat of demolition of the Regency buildings that led to the founding of the influential Regency Society, the city’s oldest amenity and conservation society, which thankfully is still very active in protecting our heritage.