Lord Olivier's home in Royal Crescent

Lord Olivier's plaque
Photo by Tony Mould
4 Royal Crescent
Photo by Tony Mould

Lawrence Olivier, considered by many to be the greatest actor of his day, lived at 4 Royal Crescent in Brighton for many years until the 1970s. He had two houses knocked together in this very desirable seafront address.

Lord Olivier, like many other theatrical professionals who lived in Brighton, was a regular on the Brighton Belle express train to London.  In 1972 he fought a lengthy battle to save kippers on the breakfast run to London.  So to everyone’s delight, the kippers remained!  But in spite of desperate attempts to save it, the train itself was axed later that year.

In his retirement, Olivier and his wife Joan Plowright moved to the country and lived near Steyning. Sir Lawrence achieved fame for a wide variety of roles on stage and screen, ranging from Shakespearean heroes like Henry V, to the rather seedy Archie Rice in the Entertainer by John Osborne.

Comments about this page

  • Ref the Brighton Belle Carriages having female names: This only applied to the first class rolling stock, all second class carriages were given numbers eg Car No 97 etc. Also there was the Bournemouth Belle which ran out of Waterloo which was also an all Pullman Train.

    By John Wignall (23/03/2009)
  • I recall catching the Brighton Belle after a theatre trip to London with my family in early 70’s. Must have been shortly before it was axed. We had bacon and eggs (I think) and I remember the proper waiter service and the coffee slopping from the cups onto the tablecloth as the motion was so rackety!

    By Mira Taylor (22/05/2011)
  • I was and still am a great admirer of Laurence Olivier as an actor.  His film of Richard III introduced me to Shakespeare in the 1960s. I have been to visit his house in Brighton and his birthplace in Dorking, Surrey where there is also a plaque.  I want to visit the National Theatre in London where he was the first artistic director which was based at the Old Vic before the National Theatre finally opened in the 1970s.  I think the plaque to Laurence Olivier could do with some repair doing to it.  It looks a little weather-beaten now.

    By Carole Heath (24/04/2015)
  • Carole Heath, I also am an admirer of Laurence Olivier, his Henry V film which I saw in 1944 during the WW2 also brought Shakespeare to my attention. Although 70 years ago, I can still hear Olivier’s wonderful verse speaking and what a handsome man he was. I also saw him at the Old Vic theatre London in his brilliant performance as Richard III also in the 1940’s. The atmosphere electric when LO walked out onto the stage and started “Now is the winter of our discontent” – you could hear a pin drop. At the end of the play for a few seconds no-one clapped, there was deadly silence, then the audience went mad, cheering and cheering. I knew then I was in the presence of a very great actor. I am 88 years old now but to have missed that experience would have been a great loss for a person who loves the theatre.

    By Rosemund Forbes (28/06/2015)
  • Thank you for sharing your memories Rosemund, I can only wish I had been there. Laurence Olivier has given me great moments of joy, I study his every move and I am totally fascinated. If only I had a time machine to attend every stage performance. My best wishes to you Joan Plowright, I love yours and Larry’s story.

    By Carole Anderson (13/10/2015)
  • My mother informs me this is where she lived for a year (early 60s). Now before you jump to any conclusions, she rented the basement flat in this picture and by all accounts it had none of the splendour of Laurences own abode. My mother was a nurse then and worked at the Royal Sussex Hospital & Brighton General Hospital. Hyawatha, a tabby cat shared the flat with my mother and the two would often be seen walking the beach, Hyawatha on a cat lead. 

    By Reuben (09/05/2018)
  • I was lucky enough to visit the houses quite a few times as a youngster, as I went to prep school in Hove with Richard, and would go round at weekends to play there. I was also taken to Steyning at weekends too, to keep Richard company I suspect! All visits were lovely. The Brighton houses were huge, or so it seemed to a youngster, and both Richard Olivier and Joan Plowright were lovely, and down to earth. I do remember a nanny who looked after Richard and his two sisters there.

    By Guy Dickins (09/02/2021)
  • Laurence Olivier would often stop at my grandmothers whilst walking along Marine Parade and chat about his newest film. My grandmother Olive loved the movies and would frequent the Odeon, Kemp Town at least twice a week. Back then movies changed every three days .
    Flora Robson would come by too and do jigsaw puzzles at my grandmothers kitchen table. Glorious days!

    By Gwendoline F Healy (07/06/2021)

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