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Designed by Amon Wilds: built c1849

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.

a) HISTORY and DESCRIPTION: The houses of Park Crescent were designed by A.H.Wilds and erected over a period of several years from 1849 {83} around a private garden which was formerly the Royal Gardens cricket ground (see below). The facades of the houses are not readily viewed except from the garden, but they may be seen to have attic storeys breaking the roof line above verandahs, and form a chain of linked villas with a rear facade that resembles a plain terrace. The forty-eight houses are all listed except nos.24-26 which were erected in 1983 as facsimiles of houses that were bombed in 1942 . The garden was managed by an estate agent until 1872 when the responsibility passed to a residents’ committee. {44,265}

b) ROYAL GARDENS: The Royal Gardens themselves were laid out for James Ireland. In 1822 he purchased ten acres of the Level between the new Union Road and the future Brewer Street/Trinity Street area from T.R.Kemp , and opened his gardens to the public on 1 May 1823. From a lodge at the south-western corner, the visitor entered the cricket ground with a bowling-green and billiard-room nearby; the Hanover Arms stood at the south-eastern corner.
The cricket ground was said to be the best in the entire country and staged many grand matches. One of the first was on 28 June 1823 when a Sussex XI defeated the M.C.C. by an innings and 45 runs. The Sussex County Cricket Club played their first matches on the ground, and as Sussex are the oldest formally established county club (formed 1839), this ground, which was also known as the Hanover Ground or Box’s Ground, can be said to have been the first county cricket ground in England. The first match was probably Brighton versus Godalming on 2-3 June 1823, and the last was on 27-30 September 1847 when Sussex beat an All-England XI by 22 runs.  It was certainly the most popular of the attractions at the gardens.
Adjacent to the cricket ground stood the assembly rooms which had reading, refreshment and dressing rooms on the ground floor, and an elegant promenade above. Beyond were the pleasure gardens including a ladies’ bowling-green, an aviary, an ornamental grotto, a maze, and a small lake. However, despite numerous attractions and special events, the gardens were not a financial success and Ireland eventually sold them, but the later proprietors, including a Mr Pierpoint, Mr Brown, and Messrs Harvey and Box, also had little success.
A menagerie was introduced in 1839 but lasted less than one year, and the grounds were soon allowed to fall into decay. The area was eventually developed with small terraced housing from the 1850s to the ’90s, except of course at Park Crescent where the cricket ground became a private garden. However, the boundary wall of the Royal Gardens, now a listed structure, remains on the northern side of Union Road but the large lion and lioness figures on the gateposts were removed in 1987, and the wall was severely damaged by the storm of October 1987. {44,140}.

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.

Park Crescent, c. 1940: View of houses in Park Crescent, Brighton.
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

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