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Marlborough House, built c1765

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.

k) MARLBOROUGH HOUSE: This, the oldest remaining house on the Steine, is a grade II*-listed building which is considered by most authorities to be architecturally the best house in Brighton. It was built in about 1765 for Samuel Shergold of the Castle Inn who let it to fashionable visitors, and was originally a three-storey, red-brick building with a steeply pitched tiled roof, dormer windows, and a small pedimented classical doorway. In September 1771 the house was acquired by the fourth Duke of Marlborough after whom it is now named, but in 1786 he sold it to William ‘Single Speech’ Hamilton, M.P., who employed the most prominent architect of the day, Robert Adam, to remodel the house both inside and out; it is Adam’s only work in Brighton and a plaque has been erected to him. The facade has two slightly projecting bays topped by pediments, two large round-headed windows, and a pedimented fanlight doorway with fluted Doric columns. The recently restored interior retains some of Adam’s original features, and the principal rooms have good ceilings and fireplaces.
The Prince of Wales stayed with Hamilton for three days in April 1789, and in June 1795 stayed there again for nearly three weeks, this time with his (legal) wife, Princess Caroline of Brunswick. Hamilton died the following year however, and the house was auctioned for 4,000 guineas. In about 1870 it was purchased by John Beal, the publisher and stationer of East Street who used the basement as a store, but he leased the ground floor and upper storeys to the Brighton School Board for use as offices. The school board purchased the property outright in September 1891 for £7,000, and the building remained in use as education offices, first for the school board and then for the county borough council, until the county council took over responsibility for education in 1974. Marlborough House then became the offices of the Tourism and Resort Services Department of Brighton Borough Council, and now houses the town’s main tourist information centre. {10,15,44,48}
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.

Marlborough House, Old Steine
Photo by Tony Mould

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  • During the 1850s Marlborough House was the residence of Charles Sabine Augustus Thellusson, his wife Georgiana and their six children. Amongst other things he was Commodore of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. In 1859 he inherited half the estate of his great grandfather Peter Thellusson after a long running court case which led to the Accumulations Act 1800, and inspired Dickens’ writing of Jarndyce v Jarndyce in Bleak House. Charles Sabine built a new house for himself at Brodsworth near Doncaster S. Yorkshire, which is now an English Heritage property and open to the public.

    By Mr S Willimott (17/09/2008)

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