Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty follows Alice down the rabbit hole to find Lewis Carroll’s real world and a notable cottage in the city of Brighton and Hove on England’s south coast.
There is a tunnel in Brighton. It connects the very fine Regency houses that flank the private gardens of elegant Sussex Square with the nearby beach. Local tradition has it that this tunnel was one of the inspirations for the rabbit hole that Alice falls down to reach Wonderland and its vast array of curious characters including the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat and the Mock Turtle. Alice in Wonderland author, Lewis Carroll, was a regular visitor to Brighton. One of his sisters lived at 11 Sussex Square and he would have been very familiar with this underground passage to the sea.
Where the tunnel emerges at the beach there are two gatehouses. One once housed a policeman and the other a gardener. Both are very fine examples indeed of late eighteenth century architecture, and complement the style that has made Brighton one of the finest Regency towns in the UK. Once a small fishing village, Brighton had already become a fashionable seaside resort by the time the Prince Regent – later King George IV – made his first visit in 1783. Under the direction of the highly influential architect John Nash (1752-1835), the Regent built The Royal Pavilion – now world famous for its Indo-Saracenic architecture and Oriental interior – as a home during his frequent visits to the city.
The policeman’s house, on The Esplanade, is now on the market through Brighton real estate specialists and Mayfair International Realty members, Mishon Mackay. This is a magnificent and rare cottage that would make a really great weekender or Brighton pied-à-terre. It’s not large. In fact it is rather compact with an open plan kitchen/living room, two bedrooms and bathroom. But what it lacks in space it makes up for in location, history and charm. The cottage was even used as a store for ammunition during the Second World War while Britain prepared for invasion – it overlooks the English Channel and is just a few steps from the beach. With a commanding southerly outlook towards France this is a delightful and individual home with important links to the wonderland that is Regency Brighton. Like Carroll’s Wonderland, Brighton has lots of very individual characters but I think Alice would have been very comfortable in this one.
By Nick Churton
To find out more about Regency architecture in Britain see: <www.mayfairoffice.co.uk/members/regency.aspx>