Meet the residents

Sue with her magnificent cardoon plant in the front garden of No. 20
Photo taken by Rosie Page
Mr Tappin and the beautifully hand written indenture (lettings) document for the house dated 1863
Photo taken by Rosie Page

Completed in 1847 this stunning terrace was the last row of houses to be erected in the town which displayed the elegant Regency style. Upwind of the newly built railway terminus Clifton Terrace was considered to be one of the most desirable places to live in Brighton. The terrace is now part of the Clifton Conservation Area and the stylish houses with direct views of the sea are among the most beautiful in the city.

Sue Rubinstein
Sue Rubinstein and her family have lived at number 20 for six years. Sue is an artist and opened her house to the public during the Festival. Her daughter, Manon, showed a video she had made of the changing views of the sea through the trees from her window.

After they moved Sue discovered that her living room had been much photographed. She recognised a picture of their living room from the 1930s on the (then) “MyBrighton” museum exhibit. The caption read only “interior of a house”; but Sue recognised her home from a fixture in the corner. She also saw a photo of the room as it was in the 1940s decorated with an Egyptian theme in “Homes and Gardens”.

When the family renovated the house three or four years ago, she continued to take photos of unusual old features, such as cellar doors and bell pulls, old distemper work and building materials comparable to wattle and daub, and the local “bungarouche”. Bungarouche is a mixture of brick, flint and beach cobbles held together with lime conglomerate.

She also showed me the deeds to the house which are written in immaculate copper plate handwriting. They describe the piece of land on which the house was built as “situated on “Church Hill, formerly called the Western or Tenantry Down” from when the old town was surrounded by just fields and common land.

Mr Tappin
Mr Tappin (affectionately known as Tap) has lived in number 7 since 1972. He remembers all the house conversions from single dwellings to multiple occupation and back again. He says he has enjoyed having nice neighbours all the time he has lived there, “although the people have changed”. “In the past”, he remarked, “there were many more shops ’round the corner and a pub”. And he showed me a particularly interesting old photo showing that the house at the end of the terrace that used to be a pub called “The Clifton Arms“.

Tap showed me his collection of books about Brighton’s history and old photos dating back to the 1860s and ’70s. When renovating in the mid 1970s he found some very old newspapers. A fragment of “The Morning Star” dated 1862 displayed an advertisement for the Great Eastern steamship. At that time you could travel from Liverpool to New York for 6 guineas (£6 6 shillings) if you were prepared to travel steerage. “The News of the World” dated 1925 announced the “promising trial flight of the autogyro” (a propeller plane with a rotating blade like a helicopter).

He also has a beautifully hand written indenture (lettings) document for the house dated 1863, which he has had framed and hangs over the fireplace.

Comments about this page

  • Excellent writing; insightful and very human with great photographs.

    By Andy Batkin (28/07/2004)
  • I lived for a year at 19 Clifton Terrace in 1985. I was 11 years old at the time. My family was on sabbatical from Canada for the year. My experience in Brighton remains one of the most pleasant and memorable times of my childhood. It was a beautiful place to live.

    By Matt Coleridge (08/11/2006)
  • The painter, the late Edward Le Bas, who once lived in Clifton Terrace, recently had a painting sold at Christies (2006), entitled ‘Brighton from Clifton Terrace’. It should be viewable on Christies website and is worth a look.

    By Edward Castle-Herbert (08/08/2007)
  • We’re staying in a property at the rear of number 8 Clifton terrace. The main room is converted from a ballroom. This apparently used to be part of a hotel which used to be here. Do you have any information about the hotel?

    By Sarah (17/10/2023)
  • Clifton Terrace is part of the route I take when I lead tours of the area in Brighton Festival Fringe. I have done these for over 15 years so know the Terrace quite well. If #8 was a hotel, it was for a very short time; I have looked in street directories for 1914/1937/1954/1966 and there is nothing denoting it as a hotel. There was a small hotel for some time along at #21. I have been inside #7 on several occasions and would imagine #8 to be the same dimensions and it would have been a very small hotel…if it was! I have taught local history for many years and all manner of things are told about property history and much of it palpably untrue! If you can find any definite information please do put it on this site as that is how research can progress.

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (17/10/2023)
  • Kelly’s directories for 1936, 1937 and 1938 lists Nos 8 and 9 Clifton Terrace as a ‘boarding house’. The occupant was William Chandler. Mr Chandler had been at Nos 8 and 9 since 1933, and at No. 9 for a few years before that. Nos 8 and 9 were separate premises again by 1947.
    Perhaps the status of boarding house has been elevated to ‘hotel’ in retrospect and over time. But a boarding house is unlikely to have had a ballroom.
    I’ve looked through available directories from 1846 to 1973 and there is no other reference to No. 8 being anything other than a private residence. However…
    The Keep has records of alterations being made to No. 8 in 1902 and 1903. Street directories (Pikes, Towners) show that between 1905 and 1913 the occupant was Samuel Denman. Might this have been Samuel Denman, architect and father of John Leopold Denman? ( has John Leopold Denman living at 8 Clifton Terrace at some point.)
    The Denmans’ architectural practice was in Queens Road but if Samuel lived at No. 8, and if the alterations carried out in 1902-3 relate to the building at the rear of the house, perhaps it was built as an architect’s studio. (Too many ‘ifs’?)

    By Gill Wales (21/10/2023)

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