Tue 12 Aug 2014
Building opinons: Robert Nemeth 26 Lewes Crescent
I often mention the private tunnel beneath Marine Parade (down to the beach) of Tamworth House, one of the most striking seafront houses in Brighton. The tunnel was uncovered in 2005 by developers Doug Pearch and Barry Grogan. Their latest project is the complete renovation of an entire house on Lewes Crescent.
There are very few Grade I listed houses in Brighton and Hove. Indeed, there are very few Grade I listings generally. The rather short list includes Brunswick Square, Lewes Crescent and Sussex Square, where there are just two or three complete houses on each. 26 Lewes Crescent, on the lower east side of one of Brighton’s most loved Regency compositions, is one such house.
“There are very few Grade I listed houses in Brighton and Hove”
Lewes Crescent was designed and built from the 1820s by Charles Augustin Busby and Amon Henry Wilds as part of Thomas Kemp’s grand plan for the area. No. 26 consists of five storeys, including a top floor which has been combined with attic areas to create an unexpected abundance of space and light where other houses have low ceilings.
Doug and Barry bought the house in January 2014, following three rounds of sealed bids. It was previously owned by an elderly gentleman who had lived in the building for many years. Over 100 tonnes of rubbish was removed in 1,200 rubble sacks through the surprisingly large back garden.
The new layout includes three bedrooms on the top floor, an immense master suite with huge dressing room and steam room on the second floor, entertaining space on the first floor and a luxury lounge/kitchen on the ground floor. The basement is a flexible area with access to the rear garden, which has a number of possible uses, including self-contained flat or teenager bedrooms.
One famous resident of the building was the exiled Princess Suvadhana of Siam (now Thailand) who moved to England in 1938. During her time in Brighton, her and her family’s work with the Red Cross and British soldiers was notable.
Roedean School was actually founded as Wimbledon House next door at 25 Lewes Crescent in 1885. Its rapid expansion meant that more space was needed and it had overflowed into No. 26 by 1887, prior to its move to, well, Roedean in 1898. I was overwhelmed by the quality of the work that has already taken place at 26 Lewes Crescent, and will be writing a follow-up as soon as the job is completed.