Attree Villa: completed in 1830

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.

c)  ATTREE VILLA: Thomas Attree purchased the park in about 1825 and commissioned Charles Barry (later Sir Charles, best known for the design of the Houses of Parliament and now commemorated by Barry Walk) to design a villa nearby. Standing in large grounds, the square, Italianate house, one of the earliest of its style, was completed in 1830. It had a shallow roof, broad eaves, plain walls with a loggia of three round-headed glass doors, and a balustered terrace. In 1863 it was purchased by George Duddell, but was vacant for about twenty years after his death until it reopened in 1909 as an Xaverian college for Catholic boys. However, when the college closed in 1966 the villa became dilapidated, and it was demolished in March 1972 despite being classed as outstanding by the Historic Buildings Council and listed grade II*.

The Attree Villa stood on the southern side of the present Attree Drive, with grounds bounded by North Drive, Queen’s Park Terrace and Tower Road, but few relics remain. Some old walls and gateposts remain in Queen’s Park Terrace and Attree Drive, while opposite the Cam Court flats stands the villa’s garden temple, an Italianate, rectangular structure with Ionic pillars which formerly contained the statue of a seated dog; it is now listed.

The well-known `Pepper-Box’ or `Pepper-Pot’ at the junction of Queen’s Park Road and Tower Road is also a relic of the Attree Villa, a ten-sided listed building sixty feet high with Corinthian pillars and a cupola. Its original purpose is uncertain, but it may have been a water or observation tower for the villa, or possibly a sewer vent, George Duddell used it for printing and publishing the Brighton Daily Mail, but it was part of the Queen’s Park estate presented to the corporation by the Race Stand Trustees. During the Second World War the Pepper-Box was used as an observation tower, and has since been used as a scout headquarters and an artist’s studio.

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.

Comments about this page

  • I was born and bred in Brighton and lived not far from Queen’s Park. I always thought the proper name was the Pepper Box not Pot. If you ran round the Pepper Box three times a witch would come out – so we never did!

    By Kathy Nichols (06/11/2007)
  • In approx 1968 we moved into the new houses in Barry Walk built adjacent to here. I have no idea if it was true but I was told that there was a secret tunnel in the Villa that led underground to the Royal Pavilion. I spent hours searching for it but alas it wasn’t to be found, or not by me and my friends.

    By Josie Campbell (16/11/2007)

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