Old Shoreham Road to Highcroft Villas

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.

d) OLD SHOREHAM ROAD to HIGHCROFT VILLAS : The Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College (‘BHASVIC’) was erected in 1913 as a grammar school and has its own entry in this text. The adjacent Dyke Road Park , although situated in Hove since 1928, is owned and managed by Brighton Council which purchased the land, then in Preston Rural parish, in November 1914. The north-western part was initially intended for a hostel for the MunicipalTrainingCollege, but the whole area of about ten acres was laid out as a park which was opened to the public on 17 September 1924 by the mayor, Hugh Milner Black {126}.
At the corner of Port Hall Road stands Port Hall itself, a small listed house of about 1800. The unusual building, which was the residence of Sir Page-Dyck in the early nineteenth century when it was quite isolated, has a sham ecclesiastical window with the statuette of a monk, a castellated roof, and the prominent figure of a knight above the doorway; it is said to be haunted by the ghost of a red crusader. Port Hall post-mill stood on Port Hall Mews behind the house and was built by 1795, but it was demolished in 1887. {44,107,108,123,249}
Beyond the Booth Museum of Natural History (see below), the Territorial Army Headquarters has a drill hall erected at the time of the Second World War for the volunteers previously based in Church Street and Gloucester Road . Behind the hall is a large red-brick villa of 1876, Highcroft, which has a south lodge in Dyke Road and a north lodge in Highcroft Villas . {83,306}
Lambourne’s Old Mill Works at the top of Highcroft Villas are named from the former Preston Mill which stood on the site. It was originally erected in Belle Vue Field, now Regency Square , as the West Mill, but following complaints from nearby residents it was carried on a sled pulled by thirty-six yoke of oxen on 28 March 1797, an event depicted in a pair of paintings now hanging in Preston Manor . The mill gave Millers Road and the Windmill Inn, now the Dyke Tavern , their names, but it was also known as Streeter’s Mill, the Black Mill, and Trusler’s Mill. When it was demolished in 1881, parts of the machinery were included in the new Waterhall Mill.  {249a}

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 would like to know more about the ghost that is said to haunt this house. I certainly remember the house from when I used to live in Brightion.

    By Edward (19/06/2007)
  • I lived in Porthall Road from 1939 to 1958 and remember Porthall House when it was a single dwelling. The final owner, an old lady, showed me around the house on at least two occasions, in the very early 1950’s. My father garaged his car in the lock-ups which formed part of the old stables adjacent to the house, which was then run as Porthall Garage.

    By John Boxell (22/07/2008)
  • I’m loocking after the now lady of the house and we are looking for information on why the house is called Port Hall. Her parents lived there before her. She still lives there. Any information would be good. I was in there today and was icey cold. It for some reason made me look it up.

    By Julie (20/03/2011)
  • My ancestors used to live in this house. We have a painting of the house as it was and it looks like there were some ecclesiastical buildings next to it. It was owned by a Sir Page Dick (my ancestor).

    By Christine Comrie (27/07/2012)
  • I have just moved into this house.

    By Rowan (17/11/2012)
  • I was in this house twice a week for several years in the ’50s and early ’60s as I took music lessons with the daughter of the owner. I have very fond memories of late evening snacks in the kitchen with her and her very vibrant mother! Some of the happiest times of my life. Yes, it was said to be haunted. There was an opening in the basement that was bricked up, formerly used by pirates to smuggle goods in from the coast. The owner’s dog used to growl if he went down there!

    By Heather (13/03/2013)
  • We are now living in the house and would love to hear from anyone who lived / visited the house before and knows anything about its history.

    By Nicola Miles (19/05/2013)
  • Hi my ancestors used to live in this house.  It was owned by Sir Page Dick and his son  who was curator at Brighton museum.

    In spite of his title, Dick lived much of his life on modest means. He was born in London in 1802, and moved to Brighton in 1820 with his father, Sir Page Dick. They lived in a house named Porthall on Dyke Road. Much of his income seems to have been derived from his father’s war pension, and when Sir Page died in 1851, Dick inherited relatively little. Other than his title, the house, some furniture, and a collection of armour and painted miniatures, Sir Charles Dick was left with little income. Believing himself to be entitled to a substantial pension from the crown, dating from a settlement made by Charles II, Dick spent much of the remainder of his life petitioning the government for these funds. His efforts would prove unsuccessful and, according to an obituary published in the Brighton Herald, he ‘sank lower and lower in worldly circumstances’. So low did he sink that he became a museum curator.

    In the early 1860s, Dick and his family were forced to give up Porthall. I have a painting of the house as it was in those days surrounded by fields.  I would be happy to photograph this and upload it.  In return I would love to see pictures of the house and the interior. 

    By Christine Comrie (17/03/2014)
  • This photograph was taken from the first floor of Port Hall in about 2014. It shows the garden planted by Christine, the owner for around 60 years.

    By R Miles (13/12/2016)
  • If you go to the James Grey collection on this site and follow the links, pictures 95 to 101 are of Port Hall and its windmill.

    By Terry Hyde (13/12/2016)
  • Lovely house and garden, very cozy looking.

    By Mick Peirson (14/12/2016)
  • Christine Pembridge was my music teacher in the 50s and she lived there with her mother, Daisy, until her death a few years ago. There were two grand pianos in the music room and a delightful atrium at the back where Pemmie, as we called Christine, cultivated her plants. The building to the right of the main house is actually a folly. Christine also taught at Roedean. 

    By Heather (11/03/2017)
  • My Jones ancestors owned this house, until about 1927, when I believe it was sold to purchase some alms houses in the London area. I hope to see the house when I visit Brighton, soon.


    By Yvonne Greene (28/09/2017)

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