13 Brunswick Square

My interest in local history began on the east side of Brunswick Square when I was in my first year of my Engineering Degree at Sussex University. I had a friend that lived in a property near the top and I remember being disgusted at the number of wriggling and dead flies on a roll of sticky fly tape. He then said to me, “If you like that, you’ll love this”…

I then learnt two things. The first was that Brunswick Square has very high ceilings. The second was that Regency facades are great for hiding away some absolutely disgraceful properties. His landlord, I soon discovered, was running a commercial operation from the basement below that was attracting a serious number of flies. I hadn’t quite realised this until I looked up and saw that the whole ceiling, in this residential property, was absolutely covered in flies. I was nearly sick.

Now, I should point out that No. 13 is nothing like this. In fact, No. 13 is a museum, albeit unfinished. Local conservation hero, Nick Tyson, and his Brunswick Town Charitable Trust team have been working away for a fair few years now at turning it back into an accurately decorated Regency mansion. I have taken many a trip to see how the work is progressing, and, although far from complete, it is utterly breathtaking. The original deep mauve of the dining room was discovered under twenty or so layers of paint and in Regency times, this colour was said to aid digestion. Every room tells a different story but rather than describe everything, I recommend that you have a look yourself one day. The project became even more interesting about ten years back, when the Trust was able to purchase the almost original basement of No. 10 that was once the servants’ quarters, but more of that another time.

As many of you will already know, Brunswick Square is the Grade I Listed creation of architect Charles Augustin Busby, who was also responsible for Sussex Square and Lewes Crescent in Kemp Town. The square was built in the 1820s and at the time was surrounded by fields. Adelaide Crescent and Palmeira Square were built next to the west, followed by First, Second, Grand, Third and Fourth Avenues.

To arrange tours, make donations, become a volunteer or look for more information generally, check out – www.rth.org.uk – fly spray not required.