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Prince Petr Alexeyvich Kropotkin

Prince Petr Alexeyvich Kropotkin

Russian Prince and revolutionist

A blue plaque commemorating a Russian Prince and revolutionary anarchist was unveiled in Kemp Town recently, after efforts from Alderman Francis Tonks, and a successful campaign by a team from the University of Sussex to commemorate his life and work. The plaque for Prince Petr Kropotkin, a scientist, geographer and social philosopher who lived in Brighton from 1911 to 1917 in Chesham Street, was unveiled on 7th September  at a small ceremony at his old house. Kropotkin was a respected intellectual with a worldwide reputation and an audience that included Lenin and Tolstoy

Father of anarchism

Dr Finlayson, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Sussex said:

“Petr Kropotkin, known as the ‘anarchist prince’, spent 30 years in exile in London and Brighton at the turn of the last century. But he was not only the father of anarchism – and a Russian prince, he was a genius whose ideas about mutual aid and cooperation among animals and humans were ahead of their time. Never has his environmental, political and social theory been more relevant than it is today.” 

Kropotkin in Chesham Street


Comments about this page

  • Most interesting.

    I wrote a feature in June 2004 on Kropotkin for The Argus. My last line read: ‘Surely the house in Chesham Street deserves a blue plaque?’

    Shows how much ahead of us you were Douglas!
    Jennifer ;0)

    By Douglas d'Enno (22/09/2018)
  • Its a shame all those lovely railing and pillars have gone!

    By Peter Groves (23/09/2018)
  • Peter, you may be pleased to know that one original pillar and a small section of the original railing are still there at the very top of Chesham Street, at the entrance to No 1, on the western corner with Eastern Road. Regards, Alan.

    By Alan Hobden (26/09/2018)
  • Prince Petr Alexeyvich Kropotkin is one of the names currently featured on the Brighton and Hove Buses.

    By Ria (20/04/2019)
  • I believe the Brighton Trades Council had/have his writing table and possibly a second item, but I cannot recall what it was.

    By John Kelly (13/02/2021)
  • The railings were apparently taken down to be used in the war effort!

    By VC (01/07/2021)
  • The removal of railings and other street metalwork for WWII was mostly for propaganda purposes, to show on the cinema newsreels that we were all in it together. However it was deemed too expensive and time consuming to sort, grade and transport it all, so the bulk was put in old tramp steamers and sunk in the Channel; virtually none went into war material, The railings that survive are those around basement entries and balconies as during the blackout it was thought too dangerous to remove these.

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (04/07/2021)
  • Sorry Geoff I respect your view but I don’t believe it to be true. As a retired engineer, I have an understanding from my early years of the steel making process, it would be relatively easy for a blast furnace to process scrap cast iron, even easier to process scrap cast iron into new cast products which were in high demand during the war, eg machine tools and hundreds of other cast items. Raw ore material was in very short supply and therefore it would make no sense to dump perfectly good “scrap iron” in the sea. Scrap cast iron has a value, it did back then as well. Finally the wasteful cost to do as you suggest makes no sense, as I’m sure you know, we were not a “throw-away” society back then, in fact far from it, they used everything! Its a nice story, especially if you hanker for beauty from the past, but I’m sure not true! Best regards Peter

    By Mr Peter Groves (04/07/2021)
  • The debate continues! I just Googled-“what happened to scrap iron in WWII” and a number of accounts came up that very little was actually used in re-cycling and that much stayed in scrap yards until after the war ended. Comment came from a range of publications and local newspaper articles of a similar fate for the scrap.

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (05/07/2021)
  • I lived in Sussex Square in the 1940s and 50s. I was told that the original iron railings round the gardens in the middle of the Square and Lewes Crescent, officially known as Kemp Town Enclosures, were cut down and requisitioned for the War Effort. However many years later these were found stored away somewhere and never used for the War Effort or anything else. At the time these railings were replaced with picket fencing but have now been replaced with metal railings.

    By Tim Sargeant (05/07/2021)
  • I think it’s sour grapes Geoff, my cast railings are missing and I expect whoever lived in my house back then was really miffed……….and so were thousands who probably started the story!

    By Peter Groves (05/07/2021)
  • I have been involved in the ceremony and unveiling of the Blue Plaque in Chesham Street, and prior to that, I attended an evening at the Aquarium, when a “commemorative plaque” to Kropotkin was unveiled (I believe as part of a project and film made by students of Brighton University) and where Prof Brian Morris spoke about the life and work of Petr Kropotkin.
    This being the 100th year since he died, the life, the work, and the social philosophy of Petr Kropotkin will be celebrated at a musical and literary event to be held on Sunday 24th October at the Latest Music Bar in Manchester Street.

    Angie Travis 06/07/2021

    By Angela Travis (06/07/2021)
  • Further to my previous comment – quoted in ‘Alternative Brighton’ (pub’ 1973). “For many years the great anarchist PK was in exile in Brighton, and had very close links with the Trades Council. Before he returned to Russia in 1917 he presented them with a presidential chair, and a table which had belonged to (William) Cobden; these are now in the Labour History Museum in Reigate.” (probably now in the People’s History Museum, Manchester).

    By John Kelly (21/04/2022)
  • As a Brighton resident for many years I’m honoured to have shared his ideas and dreams. As for the railings, mine survived maybe because of the basement steps.

    By Anthony golding (17/12/2022)

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