History : 1824 to 1900
The park was originally laid out in 1824 by John Armstrong as a ‘subscription pleasure garden’ to be known as Brighton Park. A Spa was built within the park and by September of that year the Brighton Gazette stated that: “The park above Egremont Place now assumes, as the plants and shrubs start to attain their growth, a most delightful appearance.”
A disappointing start
However the park was not a great success, nor was Armstrong’s attempts to sell the plots of land around the Park for building. The whole venture may have been a failure due to a banking crisis in 1825 and the growing problem of over-building in Brighton.
Plans to develop an exclusive estate
The successful solicitor Thomas Attree then acquired the park. Though it is uncertain exactly when this happened, it was certainly some time between 1825 and 1830. Attree wanted to develop an exclusive estate of villas around a park. He appointed Charles Barry as architect to design the estate but only two villas and the two formal entrance arches were ever completed to Barry’s design.
Named in honour of Queen Adelaide
In 1836 Attree renamed the park ‘Queen’s Park’ in honour of Queen Adelaide, wife of William IV. By this time some of the park’s attractions included an archery club and an aviary. In the 1840s Dr.Granville described the park as “the only decent plantation to be seen near or about Brighton.” However the Park was only for invited guests with the general public being granted access on the occasional fete day which meant the park was really very exclusive right up until Attree’s death in 1863.
Back on the market in 1863
After Attree’s death the estate came on the market and George Duddell, an entrepreneur who made his money in Hong Kong, bought it in auction. Although the Park was still private, by 1875 the archery grounds had been turned into a vast roller skating rink. Duddell died in 1888 and the estate was put back into auction but it failed to sell.
Finally turned into a public park
Two years of acrimonious negotiations between Mrs.Duddell and the Race Stand Trustees finally resulted in the Trustees buying the grounds and presenting them to the corporation for use as a public park. £12,000 was spent on laying out the park following the designs drawn up by Mr. May, the Borough Surveyor and Mr. Ward, the Head Gardener. It was at this time that a lake was built on the site of the old roller-skating rink in the centre of the park and a drinking fountain was erected in the Park in memory of the gift.
The Park was formally opened to the Public on 10th August 1892 with a grand opening ceremony.