Saturday, September 1st 2018
Brighton Railway Station
Today’s trip started at Brighton Railway Station which we reached by train from St Pancras. The railway first reached Brighton in 1841 and an Italianate-style station was designed by David Mocata. This soon proved inadequate for the town’s expanding railway traffic and was extended in the 1850s, including the splendid curved glass roof sheltering the platforms. Today the station is a Grade II* listed building.
Brighton was not our ultimate destination. Instead, we caught a bus to Hove. You will see Hove on the map below where it nestles against its sibling on the left (west) side. (Click for a live OpenStreetMap of the area.)
Hove and Brighton
Hove tends to be dominated by its neighbour, Brighton, which is larger and brasher, but it is a town in its own right and has its own character.
Church Road and environs
We took a bus to Hove and then walked down George Street, which is lined with shops and, more importantly for our immediate purposes, contains a branch of Caffè Nero! The above map, courtesy of GeoSetter, shows our movements around Church Road, starting in the aforementioned George Street. If you wonder why there is a tangle of tracks in a couple of places, that is because these were places where we stopped for a while, the first (top left) Caffè Nero, and the second (near centre), a cafe in Church Road called Drury, where we paused for lunch. When we stay for a while in the same place, the Qstarz geotagger’s trace wanders and creates a mare’s nest of spurious tracks. This is one of its little foibles that you get used to.
Interior, Caffè Nero
Caffè Nero is one of our favourite resting places where we can consume coffee – and perhaps cake! – and use the toilet. As local councils have closed most of their public toilets, cafes and pubs have been called upon to make good the loss.
Church of St Andrew
We first stopped for a look at the Church of St Andrew, the local parish church. (There is another St Andrew’s Church in Waterloo Street.)
Church of St Andrew
The original church on the site was built in late Norman times and vestiges of it, and of later additions, still remain. This church, however, fell into a ruinous condition and was rebuilt in stages during the 19th century. The result was sufficiently successful for the church to be awarded a Grade II* listing.
Entrance to the churchyard is sheltered by a lych gate. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lic (pronounced ‘lich’) which meant ‘body’. The word could designate both a living and a dead body but here it refers to the corpse being brought to church for the funeral service. In times past, it was customary for the priest to meet the funeral party at the gate and the roof was for protection in inclement weather as much as for ceremonial purposes. Lych gates fell out of use after the Middle Ages though a few ancient ones survive. Then came the Victorians with their interest in the quaint and the historical and they built a number of new ones. The question, then when you come across a lych gate is: ‘It is ancient or modern?’ There is no doubt about the answer in this case as there is a brass plaque indicating its origins:
THIS LYCHGATE, ERECTED AND GIVEN TO
THE OLD PARISH CHURCH OF HOVE BY THE
SHIVERERS SWIMMING CLUB IN MEMORY OF THOSE MEMBERS
WHO FELL IN THE WAR 1939-1945 WAS UNVEILED BY THE
PRESIDENT OF THE AMATEUR SWIMMING ASSOCIATION AND
DEDICATED BY THE BISHOP OF LEWES ON THE 2626 SEPTEMBER 1953
Tucked in between commercial premises in Church Road is the handsome Hove public library. Hove created its first public library in the 1890s but in the early 1900s, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie made a grant of £10,000 to build a new library, this money making up a substantial part of the final cost of £13,500. The new library opened in 1907. The library hase survived that first 111 years of its life, albeit with the loss of a cupola and a roof garden, and is now Grade II listed which gives it a measure of protection for the future.
Hove Library, entrance
As central government continues to squeeze funding for local authorities, the public library system has come under increasing pressure. A number of libraries have been closed as a result. Hove library faces these same pressures and is seeking ways to increase its income such as opening part of the building to commercial tenants and establishing a cafe.
Despite the changes in lifestyle brought about by the electronic age, surveys show that public libraries are valued by the public and continue to perform an essential and unique role in the life of the community. It is to be hoped that Hove Library and its like can survive and continue to serve that need.
Hove Museum and Art Gallery resides in what was once a family home. It was built in 1870 to a design by a local architect, Thomas Lainson. The owner, John Valance, named it Brooker Hall, taking the middle name of his father. He and his wife Emma Kate brought up their five children here. Valance died in 1893 and his wife continued living in Brooker Hall until her own death in 1913. During the First World War, German prisoners of war were billeted here. In 1926, Hove Corporation bought the house and opened it as a museum in the following year.
The Jaipur Gate
As we approach the entrance, we are confronted by this handsome structure known as the Jaipur Gate. It was built for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition held in South Kensington in 1886. It stood at the entrance of the Rajputana (today Rajasthan) section of the exhibition. It was donated to the museum in 1926.
The Jaipur Gate
The gate was paid for by the Maharaja of Jaipur and was carved and assembled by Indian craftsmen but it had in fact been designed by two Britons, Colonel Samuel Swinton Jacob and Surgeon-Major Thomas Holbein Hendley. The gilded inscriptions express in three languages, the motto of the Maharajas of Jaipur which is, in English ‘Where virtue is – there is victory’.
Here are just three items from those that I saw and admired in the museum and art gallery.
Avril Wilson, 1989
The museum has a strong local flavour. Admission is free and photography is permitted. The above artwork in mild steel and bronze is by Avril Wilson. I think we can call her a local artist inasmuch as she is currently a senior lecturer in the University of Brighton’s School of art. You will find more about her on her University Web page.
Paul Helping his Brother Doug, and Scooby, Will and Saxon
Letitia Yhap, 1980-1
Thought the painter of this scene, Letita Yhap, is not local (I believe she comes from Surrey), the painting’s theme is relevant to Brighton as it recalls the fishing industry that was once important here and of which many traces and memories remain.
The Ballet Shoe
Dame Laura Knight, 1932
Dame Laura Knight is one of my favourite artists and I was pleased to see one of her paintings here. The artist had a strong interest in ballet and she captured this scene in 1932. Nowadays it is hard to believe that some of her works were condemned by critics of the time because she unblushingly portrayed the female form. This was a period when women students of art were not allowed to draw nude female models whereas men students had that right. One of her most famous works is called Self Portrait, and it depicts the artist in the act of painting a female nude. (See here.) More information about the artist and her work may be found here.
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