Remembering Withdean Farmhouse

Nowadays only commemorated by the names of blocks of flats, forty years ago there were some huge Victorian and Edwardian houses along London Road, with gardens stretching back towards the railway on the west side. Some of the first to go were Leahurst (site now Leahurst Court) and Pantzer Mansions.

I particularly remember Withdean farmhouse (a comparatively small house), near the bottom of Tongdean Lane and opposite Peacock Lane. Seeing it looking forlorn in the heavy snow of January 1963, with a notice outside proclaiming the building of 48 flats on the site, I photographed it; eighteen months later I took another photo at the same place. No comparison!

Comments about this page

  • I spent my first 2 years there after birth, 21/7/1953. Any information please?

    By Clive Gravett (04/09/2004)
  • We moved to Brighton in 1966 and lived in Regency Court.  There was a house on the corner on Tongdean Lane that was due to be demolished and I was forever over there playing.  Don’t know if it was Withdean Farmhouse.  Upstairs were loads of old magazines and papers and letters.  They were very old. even back then. but to a child they were of no interest.  How I regret having left them now. Eventually the builders came, and I watched with tears, as my lovely quite play area was destroyed and flats built in its place.

    By Josie Campbell (03/10/2006)
  • My paternal great grandfather, Major Ronald, owned one of the villas at Withdean, Elms Lea, on the site of where Elms Lea Avenue now is. It was demolished on his wife’s death in the 30s as the site was sold to be able to divide the estate between his (I believe) thirteen children. My mother has some wonderful stories of those times, chauffered in a Daimler everywhere, tennis courts, servants etc. I wonder how then I was born in a council house in Hangleton.

    By Neil Underhill (22/03/2007)
  • Neil – I think we are related! I just checked with my mother who was born Jacqueline Urwin-Mann. Major Ronald was my mother’s great grandfather. My mother has told me the stories of Elms Lea and my great grandmother who married and became an Urwin-Mann. My great grandmother was one of the thirteen children. Pleasure to find you. If only we were as wealthy now hey?!

    By Amanda Urwin-Mann (18/09/2009)
  • Amanda- I am sure we are. The Unwin-Mann name cropped up frequently In my mother’s Christmas list, just sad that I haven’t had cause to look at this page for a long time.  You can get in touch with me on

    By Neil Underhill (16/01/2013)

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