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.
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”.
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