Leading architects and builders of Regency Brighton

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

Two of the leading architects and builders of Regency Brighton. Born in 1762, Amon Wilds established his building firm at Lewes with his son Amon Henry (born c.1790), but in about 1815 they moved to Lewes Road , Brighton. Their first major work in the town was the Trinity Chapel in Ship Street in 1817 for Thomas Read Kemp , and two years later they were commissioned by Thomas Read Kemp again to build him a new residence, The Temple , off Montpelier Road. The Wilds partnership also developed Richmond Terrace.

It appears that the son did most of the architectural design work, and that Wilds senior was principally a builder. In 1822 however, Amon Wilds, who lived at 9 Richmond Terrace, entered into partnership with architect Charles Busby while his son established his own business. Wilds and Busby then proceeded to build both the Kemp Town and Brunswick estates, and many of the other finest houses in the town, particularly on the East Cliff . Again, Wilds was concerned with building and Busby with design. Other Wilds and Busby work probably includes the Gothic House (Debenhams) in Western Road ; 87 London Road; the former Elim Church in Union Street; and many houses in Marine Parade , Marine Square, Portland Place, Regency Square and St George’s Place .

Amon Wilds died on 12 September 1833 aged 71 and is buried in the eastern part of St Nicholas’s churchyard, his prominent tomb being decorated with shell motifs and probably designed by his son. Charles Busby, who was born in 1788, published several books of architectural designs and spent seven years in the U.S.A. He lived at 11 Waterloo Place before moving to Lansdowne Place, Hove, in 1830, but he died on 18 September 1834 and is buried at St Andrew’s Church, Hove .

Amon Henry Wilds continued to design many of the finest buildings to be seen in the town today, including the Western Pavilion for his own residence in about 1828. He later moved to 8 Western Terrace, to the nearby Gothic House (Debenhams) to 5 Western Terrace, and in 1848 to the Western Pavilion again. He retired in the 1850s and died in 1857 at Shoreham. Among his many works may be numbered Cavendish Place; Park Crescent; Sillwood Place; Waterloo Place; the Royal Albion Hotel ; St Alban’s House; Sillwood House; the Unitarian Church; the Royal Newburgh Assembly Rooms; and the Victoria Fountain.

Distinctive features of A.H.Wilds’s work are shell motifs and the spiral ‘ammonite’ capitals which were probably a pun on the name ‘Amon’. They were first used by the Wilds partnership at Castle Place, 166 High Street, Lewes. In Brighton they may be found at Hanover Crescent ; Montpelier Crescent; 53-56 Montpelier Road ; 26 Old Steine ; Oriental Place; 40-44 Preston Street; on the northern side of the Queen’s Hotel; 7 Richmond Terrace; Western Terrace; and also as an exhibit in Brighton Museum.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

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