Several stories from unrelated sources led to me investigate an unexpectedly vast house on Marine Parade with one of the finest staircases in Brighton
Several times over the past few years, tales of an immense basement on the Kemp Town seafront have been related to me. Different people have mentioned a huge protruding room at the rear of a house that goes on and on.
58 Marine Parade, or ‘Georgian House’ as its known, is situated between Atlingworth Street and Grafton Street on what is one of the finest stretches of Regency buildings in the country. The aforementioned staircase was brought to my attention by architect Alan Cronshaw who oversaw works in the building in question to combine two separate flats on the top two floors into a glamorous single dwelling with delightful sea views. I was shown the flat, and more, by its owner, David Felton.
Like most other houses on Kemp Town’s famous seafront, there is painted render. But five-storey Georgian House features yellow brick too, along with a curious oval window at ground floor level. A generously-proportioned front door leads through to a dark hallway with a rather sorry-looking staircase. The magic starts at the top of the first flight of steps.
From here, an immense staircase wraps around a huge rectangular atrium with skylight and chandelier. Arched openings look down into the vast central area. It is so large that it essentially splits the building into two. From David’s flat at the top, it is possible to access the roof and see the skylight up close. More importantly though, it’s possible to see that the building occupies a unique position in the centre of its block where it can extend backwards by more than twice the distance of its neighbours.
Rather than having a garden behind it, Georgian House has a ballroom. And why not? I’ve heard it described many times previously in fact in all sorts of stories – some likely (the location of Vera Garbutt’s dancing classes during the 1920s), others less likely (the ‘first gay club in Brighton’, a ‘kinky dungeon’ and later ‘the home of a member of S Club 7’). With more time, I would investigate further.
What does appear to be certain is that Georgian House was owned by William IV before he was king. With this in mind, the name ‘Georgian House’ is hardly fitting, but the grandeur certainly is.