Northern side of the street

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.

The principal shopping street of the eastern town was first developed in the 1790s to serve the East Cliff development, and was probably named after the Royal Palace of St James as it was known as such before the chapel of that name was erected. It remains the only major shopping street in the town not to have been widened, and a large number of original buildings, many faced with mathematical tiles, remain from the early nineteenth century. The resulting congestion led to the introduction of one-way traffic in 1968. {14,108,123}

a) NORTHERN SIDE: Starting at the Steine , nos.1-4 on the northern side were probably designed by Wilds and Busby in the 1820s and form a bow-windowed composition decorated with shell capitals and garlands; they are included on the council’s local list of buildings of special interest. No.5 was the 270-seat Imperial Picture Palace from 1912 until 1916. The narrow passage between nos.4a and 5 leads to St James’s Place , a row of six  early-nineteenth-century listed houses with fanlight doorways behind small front gardens. Nos.1 and 3-6 are faced in cobbles (no.5 has a bow and mathematical tiles as well), but nos.2 was refaced in Victorian times.
The Safeway supermarket opened in 1985 as Presto; its traces of Regency style, balconies, pilasters and Doric pillars, allow it to blend in rather well, particularly with the adjacent no.9, the National Westminster Bank. This building has a modern shop-front, but retains a bow-fronted upper storey adorned with fluted Ionic columns. Now a listed building, it was designed by Wilds and Busby in the 1820s and was the meeting place of the Brighton General Library, Literary and Scientific Institution from 1826 until about 1842. The Boots store was erected in 1914. Another narrow passage at no.21 leads to St James’s Gardens where may be found the Brotherhood Gate Spiritualist Church and Brighton Lions Community Centre.
The Co-operative Society supermarket stands on the site of St James’s Church (see below), while beyond, flanking Devonshire Place , are the flats of Devonshire Mansions and New Steine Mansions (originally the New Steine Hotel), early-nineteenth-century buildings now much restored and altered. Both are included on the borough council’s local list and are decorated with Ionic pilasters, but although they were originally a symmetric pair, Devonshire Mansions has been radically refaced. No.58 is also on the council’s local list.

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 was interested in your description of the Alley at 21 St. James Street. I lived over Clarks Bread Shop from 1947 till 1954. Our entrance was up the alley and the Spiritulistic Church was there then. The Dome Methodist church back entrance was up the top of the alley and to the left was unkempt rough land with a few trees on it. Is that the Dorset Gardens in the photo? My sister and I were very naughty when the Spiritulistic Church had their Seances we would make ghost noises outside and bounce a ball on their outside wall. We thought we were so funny until they complained to our parents and we got what we deserved.

    By Jennifer Goddard nee Norrell (20/04/2008)
  • I worked here at Boots in St James St as a teenager, another member of Staff was Shiela Debman (who by an uncanny coincidence was a relative of mine). The only thing that annoyed me was Boots had a policy of no written refrences which was such a shame because after emigrating to Australia, I could have done with a reference.

    By Jenny (24/09/2010)
  • I worked at 9 St James’s Street when it was NatWest and my father worked there before me when it was Liptons. There was a deli store just down the road from Sainsbury’s and Clarks Bakery but I can’t remember the name. I had a friend who worked at Harris’ The Drapers – Elsie Smith who lived in Queens Park Road. Since I moved away I have lost touch with all my acquaintences from this area.

    By Yvonne Taylor (11/12/2010)
  • My Father was the owner of Nos 118/119 St James’s Street. The shops had been passed on to him from my Grandfather and Great Grandfather who were both named Henry Robert, hence the name H.R.H. Draper’s. My Grandparents lived in one of the flats above the shop. It closed in 1974, I can vaguely remember Elsie Smith,.It is nice to know that someone remembers my Father’s shop, although I’m afraid that I can’t remember the deli store.

    By June nee Harris (24/04/2011)

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