Became part of the Royal Pavilion estate in 1820

The Royal Pavilion Gardens was many years prior to this a cemetery for Saxons and Celts alike; the remains of an Ox were found in recent escavations; the area later became simply fields around the village of Brighthelmstone. Incidently Brighton once had a ring of stones in the Old Steine and a Celtic populus(steine is a German translation of a ‘place of Stones’); the site is now occupied by the Fountain there.

English elms planted in 1770
The fields of the village eventually became the first public park called the Promenade Grove. An avenue of English elm (Ulmus procera) was planted there in 1770 of which one still survives today and is found complete with its iron brace on the west lawn.

Great storm damage in 1987
By the late 18th century the Holland family had acquired the land as part of their estate and in 1820 it became part of the Royal Pavilion estate. The largest elms (primarily the Dutch and English species) are those planted in the time of the Prince Regent. An avenue on the west side of the Pavilion survived right up to the Hurricane in 1987 when the last two trees fell. Most of it however having been lost to Dutch Elm Disease.

A very famous fallen elm
The infamous Weeping Wych elm (Ulmus glabra ‘Pendula’) near the Dome was planted around 1900 and has a spread of 18.6m (double the size of its height). The English elm nearest the North Gate once had a pretruding limb that went out over the road, stretching to 16m or more, the wound is clearly visible on the trunk where it was removed. Two telephone boxes which came under the trunk of one fallen elm near the Pavilion Theatre were internationally famous for many years.

Comments about this page

  • There are nineteen photographs of Hurricane damage in and around the Royal Pavilion Grounds on the website of Pavilion Gardens Cafe at
    Look in the picture gallery 1980-1989 where three sets of Hurricane photographs are present for 1987. There is also a photograph of the two telephone boxes Peter Bourne mentions above in the same section.

    By David Sewell (28/02/2008)

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