Brighton map

Map of Brighton

The seaside resort of Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove.  Officially it is not part of the county of East Sussex although it remains part of the ceremonial county of East Sussex.  An exhilarating town of spectacular contrasts. Graceful Georgian and late-Victorian houses co-exist with the extravaganza of the Royal Pavilion; oysters and antiques in the Lanes, with cockles and whelks on the Pier; bracing rides along the Promenade on open deck buses with  nights in the many clubs and pubs. Most tourists from abroad who come to visit London usually have a day trip to Brighton on their itinerary. It is renowned throughout Europe and the UK as a gay-friendly place and is home to a large LGBT population. 

It all began as a tiny fishing hamlet on the shore with the ancient settlement of Brighthelmstone on the high ground behind and is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.  The fishing quarter was almost entirely swallowed by the sea and is reduced now to a few narrow lanes off Pool Valley.  The farming village probably followed the intricate spider's web of narrow passages which today are called The Lanes and are lined with antique shops.  The dual village of Brighthelmstone changed its face and character in the mid-18th century when Dr. Richard Russell, a Sussex man, proclaimed the value of sea bathing and sea air and earned for the town its contemporary nickname of 'Doctor Brighton'.

The son of George III, The Prince of Wales, visited Brighton in 1783 and commissioned a Royal Pavilion to be built there in Classical style, with a 'Chinese' interior. When, in 1812, the Prince became Regent he engaged the renowned architect of the time, John Nash, to enlarge the Pavilion into the present riotously extravagant building. It is from this time that Brighton became the leading resort in England, despite the derision from the Prince's contemporaries who attacked the appearance of the Royal Pavilion as being ' a square box, a large Norfolk turnip and four onions'. The popularity of Brighton as a tourist spot increased when the railways arrived in 1841. Today it receives around eight million tourists each year and while Brighton puts itself out to attract holiday-makers during the summer, it is a town that goes on living exuberantly through the winter too.

Each year the town hosts conferences of the major political parties and  also Trade Unions. It is a large commuter town for workers in London and has two universities and a medical school, so also has a substantial student population. The seafront has bars, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and amusement arcades, a nudist beach and, towards the eastern end of the beach, one of Europe's largest marinas. On the South Downs to the north of Brighton is the 813 ft Ditchling Beacon, the highest point on the South Downs. It is one of a chain of prominent hill fort sites with amazing views over the Weald. 

Also nearby is Devil's Dyke, a V-shaped cleft in the Downs which also provides long views across the Weald. According to legend the gap was made by the Devil, who, to combat the growth of Christianity, started to dig a trench through which the English Channel would flood the Weald.  A woman watching him held up a candle and the Devil fled, mistaking it for the rising sun.


Copyright 2011 |