A potted history
This suburb is situated astride the A23 leading into Brighton from the north. Originally a separate parish (separating Brighton from Patcham) it was very large for a downland parish, stretching across the map from the top of Bear Road down to Lewes Road (hence Preston Barracks) right across to Nevill Road adjacent to Hove dog track. The western half was incorporated into Hove and the eastern into Brighton. At one period, the parishes of Hove and Preston were a united benefice.
The Lords of the Manor
The lords of the manor of Preston were in a long line of descent that culminated in the Western family having possession in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were major landowners in the area and were influential in the development of the resort in its boom time in the early 19th century. It was through their lands that the trackway ran that became known as Western Road. In the 1840’s they sold out to their wealthy tenant farmers, the Stanfords. It was they who developed much of Hove (the Avenues area), and much of Brighton north of Preston Circus (especially around Preston Park) in the period after 1870.
Villa studded vistas
Preston is an urban gem and green lung, having a large park with magnificent trees and immaculate bowling greens plus two park chalet-cafes. Unusually for the downland it is a very well wooded area and the Victorian expansion into this leafy suburb preserved much of the bucolic charms of the flint built village and its pleasant villa studded vistas.
Centre piece of the village
The centre piece of the village (as we locals call it!) is the Manor House, an essentially Edwardian, small but lavish country house, well maintained by the city museums, as are its recently restored gardens. It lies adjacent to a flint Norman church with a churchyard packed with squirrels.
Definitely commuter country, this is Victorian villa-dom at its best (even the station is tucked away up a tree-lined road with a near country lane beside it). Athough a busy main road splits Preston in two, there is still a separate feel about the area which persists until the A23 takes you down to Preston Circus.