History of the square from 1818

Regency Square
Photo by Tony Mould

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.

b) HISTORY and DESCRIPTION of the SQUARE: From 1818 until 1828 the new residents of Regency Square purchased individual plots from the speculative developer, Joshua Hanson, and bound themselves by covenant to complete the facades to an approved design with balconies and stuccoed ground floors. The covenants, which lasted for seventy-one years from December 1818, also required the owners to repaint the facades every three years and to contribute equally to the maintenance of the enclosure. However, faced with the prospect of the covenants expiring, the corporation assumed control of the square under the terms of the 1884 Brighton Improvement Act and extended the covenants indefinitely.
The architectural merit of the square is reflected in the grade II* listing of the entire eastern and western sides, together with nos.26-37 facing the garden along the northern side; most of the other houses, nos.21-25 and 38-46, are listed grade II. Many were probably designed by Amon Wilds and his son, Amon Henry Wilds, with the later houses by the Amon Wilds/Charles Busby partnership; most have bows and balconies, and many are faced with mathematical tiles. The houses of the eastern side are mostly adorned with Ionic doorways. The northern side is a symmetric composition of bow-fronted houses with balconies and verandahs, flanking the yellow-brick centre-piece which prominently displays the name of the square. The archway between nos.42 and 43 leads to Regency Mews. Hotels now dominate Regency Square, but Dr William King, the social reformer and co-operative pioneer, lived at no.2 from 1828 until 1830. No.57 was the home of Somers Clarke, clerk to the vestry for many years until 1892.
The gardens cover 1.56 acres and now form the roof of an underground car-park for 520 cars which opened at Easter 1969 at a cost of £523,000; it was originally planned to be a surface car-park. Regency Square has now given its name to the surrounding outstanding conservation area.

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 love living here – many people initially tried to put me off, but living so close to the sea, close to town, but still having the openess of the green, it has been one of my best ever decisions.

    By Living in Regency Square (19/09/2008)
  • The archway between numbers42 and 43 leads to Regency Mews. This archway between two houses, with rooms above it, did originally lead from Regency Square into Regency Mews and was an entrance to the stable area for horses. I moved into Regency Square in 1985 and that archway had its northern end blocked off with large garage doors at the southern end in Regency Square; it garaged three cars and I believe that it belonged to the Adelaide Hotel.This garage was then purchased by a friend around 1995 and he painfully dug out that area and built a two-floor flat in that space. The frontage now has railings but no access to the new lower ground area unlike all the other house fronts in the Square; access is through a new doorway within the hallway of No. 43 Regency Square.

    By Terry Wing (25/07/2009)
  • It’s funny when I remember Number 7 Regency Square, I have some fond and sad memories. This was where my mum brought me back to live here just after I was born in 1969 at Buckingham Road maternity hospital (which is no longer there) and then we moved away in about 1971 or 1972 after my mother had a few health problem but by either mid-1974 or early 1975 my whole family Mum (Ann) Dad (Ian) brother (Paul) sister (Lisa) ended up back at Number 7 again. I remember we had a family pet dog called Bonnie who would herd us children like we were sheep and make sure that we would not go near the road. We spent some time playing on Regency Square and around The West Pier and I also remember dancing with a dance troupe from Television’s Top of the Pops. I think I it was Pans People. I think the strangest memory I have is when the Red Arrows did their summer display over Brighton in 1975- they made the whole building shake and we would rush from the front of the building to the back to get a glimpes of the Red Arrows. Then on the 15th December 1975 sadness struck us- we lost everything in a flat fire caused by an electrical fault, this including the family dog and we moved again. This place has inprinted itself into my heart. So when I get the chance to visit I do. I went back in March 2011 after 23 years and the old place has not changed a bit. I now live in Torbay in Devon with my wife And daughter.

    By Scott Taylor (12/05/2012)

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