I first visited the Regency Town House about a decade ago, when the restoration project was just getting under way under the guidance of Nick Tyson. The Grade I listed terraced home of the mid-1820s is being developed as a heritage centre and museum to focus on the architecture and social history of Brighton & Hove between the 1780s and 1840s. The Project encompasses so much more than the house itself. In addition to restoring two townhouses, the Project is also delving into the social history of Regency Brighton and Hove. Links on their website will allow you to see who lived in Brighton and Hove at the time and to explore the Bevan and Dewar Letters, which have been transcribed and which give insight into daily and family life in the area from 1824 to 1870. To visit the website of the Regency Town House, click here.
When I knew that the Duke of Wellington Tour would be visiting Brighton as one of it's stops, I knew that Victoria and I had to include another visit to the Town House for our group to experience this unique project first hand. From the website:
The Regency Town House was built on what had already become the traditional layout for town houses. The domestic offices for the servants were in the basement, the formal rooms were on the ground and first floors and the bedrooms on the floors above. Due to higher land prices in towns, even large houses tended to be built upwards on long, narrow plots. At the back of the house there was a coach house, stable block and quarters for the coachmen and grooms.
If you think that ten years is a rather long time for the restoration to be ongoing, you should keep in mind that the aim is to restore the entire structure, inside and out, to its Regency state. This means work being undertaken by historians and architectural restorers, painters, masons, roofers, carpenters, tilers, etc., etc. all of whom are using traditional building methods and materials. It also means that the costs can sky rocket depending on the phase of work and unfortunately, the Project is often put on hold as new funds are found or raised in order for the work to continue.
Our group was fortunate enough to be given a private tour by Nick Tyson himself, and the day began outside in the Square, where Nick explained the Project and described for us what life was like in Hove during the Regency period.
Once inside, Nick explained the scope of work that has been ongoing and pointed out, and elaborated upon, many of the architectural details of the period. The background on these was fascinating.
Nick also pointed out the methods that were used to sand down the painted walls so that each individual layer of paint could be analysed and dated.
Many were surprised to learn that Regency paint colours ran the gamut from subdued to bold.
We were given an insight into period joinery and carpentry skills, as well as a primer on methods and materials that would have been common to the area.
The Town House also curates a collection of period silhouettes, which were on display during our visit alongside a temporary exhibit of historic costumes.
By purchasing the neighboring town house at No. 10, the Project was able to add authentic, basement domestic offices and rooms to it's collection. We had to opportunity to explore these areas, most of which are still in their original states. You can read more about the servant's quarters and domestic rooms at the Town House by clicking here.
Honestly, we could have stayed for the entire day and never grown tired of listening to Nick explain elements of the Town House and period daily life. He is a font of knowledge, a born storyteller and his passion for the Project is catching. Number One London is seriously thinking about planning a tour centered around the Regency period, the Town House and Brighton as a Royal destination that would include tours and seminars by experts in various fields.
For an online tour of the Regency Townhouse, click here.
You can follow the restoration projects and other events at the Regency Townhouse at their Facebook page, here.
For a 360 degree street view of Brunswick Square, click Google Maps here.
Labels: Duke of Wellington Tour, Kristine Hughes