Developed from the early 17th century

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.

t) SHIP STREET : Named from the Old Ship Inn (q.v.), Ship Street was developed from around the start of the seventeenth century and was known as the ‘street of the Hempshares’ in old documents (see ” Fishing Industry ” for hempshares). By the mid eighteenth century it was the most prosperous street in the town, and with the economic boom that followed the establishment of the health resort, it became a centre for professionals, especially solicitors and lawyers who remain in large numbers today. With many fine examples of Georgian town architecture, Ship Street remains probably the most elegant street in Brighton and there are a large number of listed buildings along its length, mostly dating from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. {14,18}
On the western side, no.7 has two bows, a fluted Doric doorway, and a facade of mathematical tiles ; no.14 dates from the early nineteenth century, as does no.15 which has a distinctive doorway and two bows; nos.16-17 are elegant buildings in red brick; no.22 is cobble-fronted; and nos.28-29, with bows, also date from the early nineteenth century.
On the eastern side, nos.53-55 have two bows and mathematical tiles ; no.57 has a cobbled front with added bay windows; the three-storey nos.58 and 59 are both faced in yellow brick (or possibly mathematical tiles ); nos.61-63 date from the early nineteenth century and have excellent doorways; no.64 is an elegant brick house with another good doorway; no.68 has chequered brick and bears a date of 1738; and finally no.69 is an attractive house in knapped and squared flint with brick, which bears the date c.1685 but has a facade more appropriate to the following century. {44,47,306}
The new Museum of Brighton occupies the former HolyTrinityChurch. Originally erected in 1817 by A. and A.H.Wilds, in Greek Doric style with a four-column portico and square tower, it was commissioned as the Trinity Chapel for Thomas Read Kemp and his dissenting sect, but Kemp sold the freehold to Revd Robert Anderson in 1825, and it was consecrated the following year as an Anglican chapel of ease to St Nicholas’s Church known as Holy Trinity. Anderson enlarged the church in 1827 and removed the portico, and the building was altered again in 1855 and 1869 when Duke Street was widened; the southern facade was thus exposed, and a chancel was also added. In 1885-7 however, the exterior was completely rebuilt in Perpendicular and Decorated styles by Somers and Micklethwaite using knapped flint as the facing material. The hexagonal lantern is topped by a weather-vane which bears the date 1886, but the interior remains largely unaltered from the original and has galleries above the north and south aisles. HolyTrinityChurch closed in December 1984 and is now a listed building; it is currently being converted into a Brighton heritage museum. Holy Trinity achieved national fame through the powerful sermons of the very famous radical preacher Revd Frederick Robertson in 1847-53, and the adjacent building, now the Co-operative Bank, was built in 1930 for the parish as the Robertson Hall. {1,44,45,46,123}
The most important building in Ship Street is the Head Post-Office , which dates from 1849 at the corner of the street, but has a main facade of 1892 (see “Postal Services”). Nos.31-32 are faced with mathematical tiles , while no.70 has an unusual cobbled upper storey with a bow. No.26 is the elegant entrance to Dukes Lane , complete with Sun Insurance firemark.
The Helsinki Café Bar is notable for its extraordinary late- Victorian architecture, with Corinthian columns and pilasters, recessed balconies, and much decoration. Until 1982 it was known as the Seven Stars, a name first recorded in 1785, and for many years the building bore the inscription ‘established 1535’.
Nos.8-9 Ship Street are the offices of Howlett Clarke Cushman, the oldest solicitor’s practice in the town. The firm was founded in 1773 by William Attree who acted for both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Clarence, and was also clerk to both the town commissioners and the vestry from 1790. The firm took Somers Clarke into partnership in 1829 and then, in 1858, James Howlett. Becoming Howlett and Clarke in 1887, it was combined with the firm of Cushman in 1989. The Book of Ancient Customs (see “Ancient Customs”) is preserved in the offices. {46,123,273}
Lanes Cafe-Bar, formerly Henekeys, is a large rendered building in Tudor style opposite the Old Ship , and was erected on the site of the New Ship Inn. The New Ship was established by 1636 (although the building says 1695) and became one of the town’s principal coaching inns. On 22 October 1792 it managed to accommodate a party of thirty-seven French refugee nuns who refused to sleep two to a bed; the Prince of Wales and Mrs Fitzherbert started a public subscription to pay for their stay before they moved on to Brussels. The inn was rebuilt in the early nineteenth century with three storeys and first-floor bows, but was replaced by the present building in 1933. The older inn is commemorated by the figureheads projecting from the upper storeys. {15,18,45}
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

  • Can anyone tell me the history of this mock tudor building?

    By Liza Dodds (18/06/2009)
  • Does anyone know where 41 Ship street is? It was the address of an architect Arthur Perkins in 1924 and I would like to see which building it is. The numbers confused me when I visited recently.

    By Jacqui (19/08/2010)
  • This used to be Hennessy’s, a 1930s sister pub to The King and Queen, and it was until recently one of the most fabulous Art Deco interiors in Brighton. The present owners have sadly wrecked the former interiors. Nothing in Brighton is ever safe.

    By Simon (28/04/2017)
  • I think that may have been Hennekeys?

    By Martin Scrace (29/04/2017)
  • This, and it’s sister The King and Queen, were beautiful buildings. The photo doesn’t do justice to the mock Tudor, 1930’s front. I had many a happy night in Hennessy’s. I seem to remember that they had barrels of sherry, behind the bar and that there was a courtyard in the centre of the building. Either way, a great place to spend a night!

    By Philip Burnard (29/04/2017)
  • I believe Martin is right. This was Henneky’s, not Hennessey’s.

    By Alan Phillips (30/04/2017)
  • This was the site of the New Ship tavern and as the new Ship Hotel survived until the interwar. The date on the frontage from the 17th century is for that establishment. The rebuilding is in a style known as ‘Brewer’s Tudor’ and as Philip states is akin to the King & Queen. The Kellys 1934 does not show any building at the location but the gap is adjacent to the New Ship Garage suggesting that was when it was being rebuilt. The Pikes directory for 1937 shows at 4-6 Ship St: HENEKEYS.

    By Geoffrey Mead (30/04/2017)
  • This is, or was Henekeys. I first used to  frequent this lovely tavern-type wine house/pub with my mum and dad when I was a ‘ teenager ‘, not that that term was used that far back. Later on when in my twenties, I continued spending Friday evenings there with my pals Roy, Arthur, Dave and Brian. Sadly Roy and Arthur (and Henekeys) are long gone but Brian, David and I are still surviving!






    By John Starley (30/07/2017)
  • Can anyone tell me about the building of 15 Ship Street, BN1 1AD. I am a design student who is looking into that site as a developing project.

    By Annabelle (08/06/2020)
  • In Kelly’s 1914 #15 is a furriers on the ground floor; above is Ship St Chambers, with a range of businesses and occupants-
    Pope & Co. Land, estate & business transfer negotiators &valuers, brewing & licensed property experts Tel 5976 Brighton
    James A Holsner, Brass plate maker & engraver.
    Miss ME Norman Ship St typewriting, shorthand & translation office. Tel Post Office 445Y2
    Davis Bros. accountants.
    Mrs de Havilland
    John James Elliott
    Samuel Tournoff

    The final Kelly’s 1974 shows-
    Trevor-Antiques of Brighton, antique dealers.
    Ship St Chambers. Wilberforce Allen, solicitors.

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (10/06/2020)
  • I have acquired a motor valve spring compressor
    which was either marketed or manufactured
    in 1924 by Certifix co of 1 ship street chambers,
    In its time it was credited as being a way of
    removing or replacing any engine valve in a
    few minutes , and to do it single-handed.

    By Andrew Hillman (24/07/2020)
  • This address would have been the registered offices as there is no history of any sort of manufacture at that address. Ship St was a ‘good’ address for a business. I would imagine the valve spring compressor would be made in the Black Country or similar manufacturing area, near the main motor works?

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (25/07/2020)

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