1. Capital of Sussex

Brighton must be brilliant. We are the largest city on the South Coast – with Hove – with 281,076 people in 2014 and we all know we’re the capital of Sussex (but don’t tell the rest). We pipped Plymouth (261,546), soared past Sou thampton (253,651) and prospered more than Portsmouth (209,085). We are the third largest city in the South after London and Bristol with a fifth of all Sussex’s 1.5 million people.

2. Grace Land

All crime fiction fans know Brighton is the home of fictional Det Insp Roy Grace, in the novels by Peter James. Peter is one of Brighton’s biggest celebrities as well as a multi-million selling author. Fans have bought more than16 million Roy Grace novels in 36 languages. In 2012, Peter inflicted pain on Christian Grey when Not Dead Yet toppled 50 Shades of Grey from the number one paperback slot.

3. Resilient Royal Albion

The Royal Albion is the heart of Brighton as Dr Richard Russell built his house and surgery there. It was one of the first houses rented out to visitors and without it, Brighton may not have attracted royals including the Prince Regent. The Albion, as it was known (the Royal was added in 1847), is the oldest existing large hotel in Brighton which uses the same entrance. It will celebrate its 190th anniversary this year.

4. Religious revival

Brighton went through periods of not seeming religious. Georgians and Victorians made up for this with a programme of church building, starting with Elin Chapel in the Lanes (today the Font pub). St Bartholomew’s in Ann Street is a fantastic pub. St Paul’s and St Nicholas churches were used as beacons by sailors. Despite lost buildings, we still have a range of beautiful architecture.

5. What's in a name

Brighton hasn’t always been Brighton and was named by Germans. The earliest name was given by Saxon invaders who came to England in the 470s. Brighton’s title appeared in the 1660s and was adopted in 1810. Before that we were Brighthelmston(e), which evolved from Bristelmestune and Beorthelmstone. So a Saxon leader, Beorthelm, established a “tun” or “homestead” in Anglo-Saxon times. Later settlements were named after people, such as Ashington or Washington. Had this been the case we might be Brightington.

6. Viking valleys

The Vikings seized or destroyed coastal settlements so it is likely that any early buildings were destroyed, perhaps more than once in the 790s. They raged across the county with the invasion by the father of King Cnut in the lead up to his becoming King in 1016. People forget or rarely know that England was part of a Viking Empire when we were ruled by Cnut so early Brighton, which certainly existed then, would have had Viking visitors. They may have left more than widows and orphans too. We have two words in existence today in Brighton that suggest they settled here too. The first is “knabb”. The knabb is the name for the small hill which is where the Pump House and Forfars are today, this would have been an early higher centre of Brighton and may even have contained our missing first church. The second word is more familiar and we all use it. “Steine” is a Scandinavian word too and means “stoney ground”, which the Steine certainly was as the fishermen used to use the large stones there to dry their nets on.

7. Fishy language

Worried about Dunkirkers? How is your hoggy? Been to a Dutch auction? How hot are your dees? Is it you who has ‘em? Have Brightonians experienced bending in? Dunkirkers were foreign, dangerous fishing or pirate vessels. A Hoggy or “hogboat” was a small fishing boat. A “Dutch auction” meant that fish would be sold in the Dutch style – with a high price, then reduced. If you were successful, the auctioneer would shout that you “has ‘em”. Dees were fires that herring were smoked upon and “bending in” was a blessing priests would make for the fishermen.

8. Domesday to doom

Brighton is older than the Normans who landed in 1066, as it is listed in the Domesday Book (actually two books), the catalogue William the Conqueror ordered of the land he conquered. Brighton became part of a “Rape” – a strip of territory – controlled by William de Warenne. Lewes became the county town of Sussex until 1888 and was more important than Brighton until the 1700s. Brighton looked doomed in the 1700s. In 1708, East Sussex citizens had to pay three halfpennies to support Brighton.

9. Decade of blazes

The French raid of 1514, when it was burned, wasn’t the only time Brighton suffered by flame. Architectural wonders have been stolen, sometimes suspiciously. Our priceless Hove Town Hall (built by Alfred Waterhouse) was demolished after a fire. The Bedford Hotel (built in 1829 and cherished by Dickens) also went up in flames. The 1960s seemed to be the decade where unprofitable buildings went up in flames. In the case of the Bedford and Hove Town Hall, both were replaced in the 1960s.

10. How fires have ravaged our historic piers

The mostfamous building to be hit by not one but two suspicious fires was the West Pier – and, in this case, not rebuilt. However, did you know the Palace/Brighton Pier hasn’t been immune? Its ghost train became scary for the wrong reasons when it caught fire. It’s been luckier than Worthing Pier which has been blown down, burned down and blown up. Fire has a more positive role today. Our Burning the Clocks event is a celebration of nights getting longer every year.


The Argus:

WE have collated 400 fascinating facts about our wonderful city for two special supplements.

Brilliant Brighton, which has been put together by historian Kevin Newman, appeared in the paper over two weeks earlier this month.

Have you ever wondered which Brighton pubs are haunted, which serial killer stalked the streets and where Laurence Olivier lived?

There is still a chance to buy the printed version of this supplement. Call us on 01273 544544 during office hours to order yours.