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|A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton|
by Paul K Lyons
24 - Rum-a-Tum Tum, maybe, at St John's, followed by a history, not grammar, lesson
With Palmeira Square behind me, I continue past several more stores (including The Ironing Shop), to a wide bit of pavement which is on the southwest corner of the Floral Clock area, where St John the Baptist Church provides a book-end to Western Road. This bit of pavement is stuffed with recycling containers - for shoes, glass, paper, cans, etc. One of them has 'No cardboard' scrawled in handwriting on the top; and, in fact, it's not that easy to distinguish which container is for what type of product, partly because the containers themselves are dirty, and partly because the colour coding is a bit confusing. There's an old-fashioned red telephone box here too - I think it's a K6, but I'm no expert. St John's Road road curls away to the left, to the sea, and on the corner, by the church, is St John's Centre and Cafe for people over 60.
The land for St John the Baptist, an Anglican church, was donated by Goldsmid (despite his own faith) and was built, also in the 1850s, using flint and Caen stone. It had 933 seats, about half of which were free. The Bath stone tower and spire (the highest in Brighton and Hove) were added in 1870. Today, the east end, which faces the Floral Clock area, looks rather grim and grimy, as does a sign giving the name of the church. I walk along the side of the church, along Church Road, past an entrance, where a board tells me about a healing service that takes place every third Thursday of the month. A few metres further on, a larger noticeboard tells me about all the different classes and clubs at the Cornerstone Community Centre. These include Baby Massage, Tai-Chi, Poetry for Pleasure, Yoga for Pregnancy, Rum-a-Tum Tum, Transmission Meditation, Yoga for Older People, Sahaja Yoga, Philosophy Circle, Zen Meditation. The Cornerstone Centre takes up the west end of the church, which looks brighter and better cared for than the east end, and has its own small garden area. On the north side of Church Road, my eye is caught by HotHedz, a modern men's hairstylist with an old-fashioned rotating red-and-white barber's sign.
A rather grubby 'Heritage of Hove' information post (sponsored by American Express) offers me snapshots of history, some of them connected to places I've walked past or will be walking past. Here, then, is a good place to give an overview of Hove's history. 'Hove is separate and very different from Brighton. Hove may be a Danish word, Howe, meaning ancient burial place, but the town was originally a fishing village near King Alfred Centre. Between the 16th and 18th C, the Downland Villages of Portslade, Hangleton and West Blatchington were more important with their manor houses, barns and windmills. These villages were later engulfed by the suburbs of Hove in the 1950s. In the 1820s, the Brunswick area grew with grand homes for the wealthy, adjacent to popular Brighton. This was the era of horse and carriage, servants, and 'parading' the Esplanade. Hove grew rapidly during the reign of Queen Victoria with the building of tree-lined boulevards, a grand town hall, hotels, parks and gardens, a gas works and brewery. King Edward VII spent holidays at Kings Gardens, and the famous were attracted by the residential elegance and sea air. Hove retains its reputation as a distinguished resort with a more peaceful atmosphere than Brighton. Today Hove is an attractive residential town, with the best in leisure and sports facilities.'
Of Brunswick Square, which I've already walked past, the board also says this: 'One of the finest examples of Regency development in Great Britain. Designed by Wilds and Busby and built between 1824 and 1840, the Brunswick estate was a private estate governed by the Brunswick Commissioners with it's [sic] own police, fire services, shopping centre (the old market building), and town hall (in Brunswick Street East). An Act of Parliament requires residents to paint their houses every five years.' And of the Avenues, which I'm about to walk through, it says this: 'This area, developed in the 1870's [sic], has many mansions of carved yellow brick and terracotta with fancy balconies and balustrades. Visit Kings Gardens where King Edward VII came for holidays. Visit the Queen Victoria statue . . .' (In tribute to those who write and proofread these noticeboards before going to the expense of having them made and installed, I've quoted the text exactly - complete with spurious apostrophes. Which is not to say I don't make similar mistakes . . . )
by Paul K Lyons
A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton - along the 450 northing
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