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The 'House of Correction' Part II

By collating all of the data from directories and other lists into a time line, occupancy and use of the premises can be deduced. However, between 1841 and 1845, the area was renumbered to rationalise the numbering system in Brighton Place. Originally the premises were numbered 20, Brighton Place, becoming 47, Market Street upon renumbering.

Undated photo of the ‘House of Correction’

1822       Robert Snelling, Fruiterer & Greengrocer at 20 Brighton Place
1828       Robert Snelling, Fruiterer & Greengrocer
1841       Sarah Snelling, Grocer in Brighton Place
1845       Snelling, Seedsman  now #47, Market Street
1848       Snelling, Seedsman
1851       Mills, Greengrocer
1854       Realff, Greengrocer
1856       Geere, Greengrocer
1858       Not listed – the building was demolished
1859       ‘A new tenement for some charitable purpose not yet defined’
1862       A privately supported Charity School
1875       School – Mrs Winter’s
1890       Home for Emigrants
1903       Used for residential purposes – Austin Calvin occupant

Commercial usage in 1950s
The residential usage continues until the early 1950’s, when the premises were utilised by an antiques dealer, Paul Grafton. Subsequently, by the mid 1960’s the premises were used as a boutique and more recently as a restaurant. This might be enough to raise very serious doubts about the claim, but it still leaves an unanswered question, “When and why was the plaque put there?”

Wording of the plaque?
That too, I think, can now be answered. A photograph from the James Gray Collection shows the building as it was in the 1960’s, including the plaque. Looking at the picture, one might think that the faint image of the inscription on the photo does not prove anything. Digital photograph enhancement is a wonderful tool that is now available and by interpolation and increasing the contrast, it can be revealed that the sign at that time simply read “Antiques Purchased”.

Detail from previous photograph

Budding historians beware
Anecdotally, it was related to me that a previous shop keeper had the plaque painted as a means of promoting his business, ostensibly selling bikinis, clothes and holiday wares. Perhaps ‘house of correction’ was intended as some sort of surreptitious play on words. What is most evident from this investigation is how easily an outright deception has gradually permeated into the accepted history of Brighton, to the extent that it has even taken in reputable authors. There is a salutary message in this for budding historians – always fastidiously check your facts and only accept a fact if it can be verified from more than one primary source.

The House of Correction: Part I is here

Comments about this page

  • Thank you for an interesting article. May I ask: When you enhanced the picture of the plaque, did it throw up the registration number of the Austin A40, parked adjacent? I had used that area and doubtless exact spot in the past. The reg. of my car was BEE 36.

    By Jeremy Homeward (18/01/2010)
  • Sorry Jeffrey, numbers a little indistinct but most likely FRY 390. Although it is not stated, I would estimate the picture at being taken in the early 1960’s.

    By Andy Grant (21/01/2010)
  • I remember the shop when I moved to Brighton in 1957. It was then called The Armoury, and had a knight in armour which you could see through the window. I still have a WWI bayonet that I bought there for five shillings in 1958.

    By Geoff (09/02/2010)
  • I remember this shop, my father used to hold me up to the window so I could see the Knight in Armour on an Armoured horse. I’ve been interested in militaria ever since,

    By Martin Phillips (19/06/2010)
  • Andy, what exactly was the black hole?

    By james Gardner (07/08/2010)
  • In a workshop behind The Druids Head, I helped my older brother Tony clean antique weapons for Paul Grafton. Very interesting work, and Mr Grafton was indeed a gentlemen.

    By Richard White (15/07/2018)

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