A DESIGNER who created history boards about her area is delighted they have finally gone up.

Vanessa Minns took on the task of designing boards about the history of the Kemp Town Estate, which encompasses Sussex Square, Lewes Crescent, Arundel Terrace and Chichester Terrace.

The 78-year-old, who is retired but has a background in costume design and exhibition design, offered to help with the project when the Kemp Town Society was left a generous donation in 2018.

Vanessa, who lives in Sussex Square, said: “It took us a long time to get planning permission but we are delighted now they are up.

“The worst thing was after spending all that time getting the boards designed, written and proofread, the production company called to say they were coming to put them up in March – and then the lockdown was announced that day.

The Argus: Vanessa with the proofs for the boards. Photo by Frans BlokVanessa with the proofs for the boards. Photo by Frans Blok

“It had been a year and a half of hard work, so I’m very pleased they’re now up.

“We were going to have a great big party to celebrate but obviously that could not happen.

“There’s so much that I find absolutely fascinating about the area’s history and architecture, and I hope others who see the boards will too.”

Vanessa has created five information boards which show how each area was designed and built.

Although landowner Thomas Kemp came up with the original plans for the site in the early 1800s, his ambitious scheme had to be modified after the Napoleonic wars had an impact on funds.

Vanessa said: “Thomas Kemp was a local landowner and he gave a lot of land to the hospital and to St George’s Church.

“He planned to build a much bigger estate with 250 houses and was the visionary who got it all going and Arundel Terrace was built first.

“But then we had the Napoleonic wars and everyone was suddenly short of money.”

Vanessa said much of the estate was actually designed by the lesser-known Thomas Cubitt, a canny developer who could count the east front of Buckingham Palace in his portfolio, as well as Eaton, Belgrave and Tavistock Squares in London.

Vanessa said: “Arundel Terrace was very decorative but they could not replicate it on the rest of the estate as money was tight.

“Cubitt was very experienced and although Kemp had specified how everything should look, he knew it was going to be far too expensive.

“He really bears the crown for what went on here.

“He built the roads and sorted out the gardens after Kemp went off to live in Paris.”

The Argus: Vanessa Minns. Photo by Frans BlokVanessa Minns. Photo by Frans Blok

So does Vanessa think Kemp Town should really be named Cubitt Town?

She said: “There would be a case for that, but really it was Kemp who got it all going.

“Each history board has a bit of personality about what the builders did and there are two for Cubitt as there is so much to say.”

Vanessa has also created a website about the area where residents can look up all the former owners of their home.

To find out more, visit www.kemptownestatehistories.com.