Puget's Cottage: Hannington's Lane

After a lengthy history of dispute and discussion regarding the future of two of Brighton’s oldest buildings, the newly named ‘Hannington’s Lane’ officially opened last month. Timpson’s shop at 15 North Street, which had a history of continuous commercial use since the 1770s, was demolished in order to construct new access to The Lanes. The demolition also made it possible to see ‘Puget’s Cottage’ an older building which is one of Brighton’s historic gems, to be fully revealed from behind the shop.

Who was John Puget?

So who was ‘Puget’? John Puget (1802-67) was a Brighton philanthropist involved in a number of local charities. He founded the ‘Puget School’ behind the Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel in 1839, but apparently, that was the sum of his involvement; there is no evidence that Puget was in any way further connected with the building. The cottage stood where it is long before the school was built; Puget’s name may have been used in order to identify its location.

Some late 17th century fabric

Puget’s Cottage, which was originally a two-storied building. contains a significant proportion of late17th century or early 18th-century fabric. The building was heightened and extended in the later 18th century; this can clearly be seen on the photograph here of the North Street entrance to the lane. Part of the cottage walls are constructed of unusually large cobbles and some ironstone, which were not local to the area, but used by ships and discarded on the beach, where it could be collected as ballast and used by local builders.

A very rare survivor

The curve in the external wall of the property reflects the shape of a strip field known locally as a ‘paul piece’. English Heritage described the cottage as a  very rare survivor; an old town building which pre-dates the mid 18th century, the later development of Brighton as a seaside resort, and the patronage of George Prince of Wales, later George IV.

Farmers or seafarers

The earliest occupants may have been farmers or possibly seafarers, as it is known that a number of master mariners owned properties on the south side of North Street, prior to the great storm of 1703. Those properties were still in the ownership of these families in 1744. History also records the existence of surrounding gardens, probably market gardens which are referenced in the ‘living wall’ on the cottage.

Old and new blended together

Although there were those who sincerely bemoaned the loss of 15 North Street and its obvious historic value as the oldest commercial premises,  In local architects Morgan & Carn Partnership’s uniquely designed environment using local materials, every shop front, elevation and colour has been individually designed. It is regeneration that respects our heritage, but at the same time is forward-looking; old and new blend together to maintain the history and character of The Lanes.


Comments about this page

  • A most interesting text and great pictures – up to Tony’s usual high standard.

    By Douglas d'Enno (07/05/2019)
  • I remember the long debate about knocking down the Timpson’s building to open up the new route onto The Lanes and liberate Puget’s Cottage. We made the right decision as Tony’s excellent pictures and Jennifer’s illuminating text testify.

    By Bill Randall (08/05/2019)
  • An excellent summary by Jennifer and ditto the illustrations by Tony. One slight amendment I could make. As the site of the new lane is within the Old Town, the curved wall is probably not a ‘paul-piece’, which was the very localised name for the medieval strips in the fields-laines-that comprised the parish’s farmland. The nearest ‘paul-piece’ to North St would be in the First or Home Furlong of the North Laine north of Church St. Straight lines were not an important part of 17th century towns and North St itself, even after the depredations of the 20th century, does gently curve round the north side of the Old Town.

    By Geoffrey Mead (09/05/2019)
  • Some of us planning committee members made a site visit the day before the decision was made to allow the building to be demolished and to my mind the Timson building had little if any historical interest and the new development had to have another way in and out of the area to make it work. Also over the life of the building the upper two floors had had internal alterations that were not in keeping with the original structure and were badly carried out. The top floor front had several acrows permanently installed to prevent any more roof spread that was actually pushing out the front wall. It had to go, believe me it was beyond repair and in a disastrous state of collapse.

    By Geoff Wells (10/05/2019)
  • I think this new Lane is a great addition, and has been designed very tastefully.
    I just wish the signage at the North Street end was better. The vertical lettering on the black tiling on the adjacent building is almost unnoticeable. A clear sign closer to ground level is surely required, like the one outside Habitat at the Meeting House Lane entrance?

    By Alan Hobden (21/06/2019)

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