Denmark Villas

Of all the tree-lined streets and grand boulevards of Hove, there is one that captures best the Victorian spirit that many of the others have lost. Running from Blatchington Road to Hove Station, Denmark Villas with its tall elms and sycamores has retained its character from all those years back.

The west side of the street has a tall terrace of houses at the top and one at the bottom but it is the villas that make it special. They are all semi-detached except numbers 47 and 49, which are detached. No. 49, or Denmark House as it’s also known, has a particularly fascinating history and was once owned by Nicholas van Hoogstraten. In 1983, the property tycoon claimed that ‘anarchists’ tried to blow it up. Rather than rely on hearsay I asked him about it. He told me that the building was found empty except for a lit candle alongside a sawn-off gas main! He also blames the culprit for fires at a property of his on Cromwell Road and also at the original building Victorian manoe on his High Cross Estate in Uckfield. This is at least a better explanation than that of the cigarette-dropping seagull that apparently burnt down the West Pier (twice)! At the top is Ralli Hall, the road’s only Listed Building (Grade II). This red-brick community centre was built in 1913 by the Ralli family to perpetuate the memory of Stephen Ralli, who made his fortune in grain.

On the east side, numbers 2 and 4 are missing. Instead, there is Granville Court, an ugly modern block. After this monstrosity, there are more villas, this time built with a beautiful peachy yellow brick which I imagine is particularly hard to replace. There is a pretty terrace of houses above this which is unfortunately followed by a nasty row of shops, which was built on the site of an old cinema. At the top is Hove Station, which opened in 1893. One of Hove’s newest roads, “Robbie’s Approach” was recently created in front of the station to deal with the queues to the hand car wash, owned by local businessman, Robbie Raggio.

Over the years, residents have clearly fought hard to keep Denmark Villas’ unique character in place. This wonderful conservation area is an excellent example of what can be achieved when a general architectural principle is adhered to; in this case yellow-bricked Italianate villas.