Regency Society

Who would think today that Brunswick Square and Brunswick Terrace were once seriously being considered for demolition?

The beauty of Brunswick Town in Hove only goes some way towards explaining its Grade I Listed status. Its age, completeness and sheer size are surely all factors also. It seems crazy that the Hove Borough Surveyor was pushing for its annihilation during the 1940s. Sure, the buildings may have been in a bad condition at the time but that’s no excuse. Four men including Antony Dale and Clifford Musgrave formed the Regency Society in 1945 to counter the threat.

The Regency Society is a registered charity and is the oldest conservation and amenity society in Brighton & Hove. Its number one aim is to campaign for the preservation of the City’s best buildings but it does much more. Contrary to what its name suggests, the Society concerns itself also with Georgian, Victorian, Art Deco and every other style and age of architecture that Brighton & Hove has to offer. As one would expect with such a variety of architectural styles, there are a number of different groups; each with a different story to tell. Hove Civic Society, for example, formed in 1960 and went on to beat plans to destroy the ramps below Adelaide Crescent. Defining the Regency Society’s role today is difficult. Its aims have certainly evolved over the years and, indeed, a debate about what it should be doing continues (as I know very well from my time serving on its committee for the past few years!).

Dr Ian Dunlop was invited by Antony Dale to lead the Regency Society and ended up being its Chairman from 1988-97. He took a series of sound decisions which put the Society on a solid financial base which included the selling of unused artefacts. He created the yearly Antony Dale Memorial Lecture and fought campaigns to save Stanmer House and Marlborough House. Dr Dunlop passed away earlier this year and will never be forgotten.

If exciting lectures, visits to historic buildings and campaigns to save local buildings sound interesting then see www.regencysociety.co.uk for details about getting involved. The Society’s James Gray Collection of around 9,000 old photographs of Brighton & Hove is being added at a rapid rate so the site is well worth a visit for that alone. Brunswick Town may still be standing but there’s lots more still to do yet!