Fife House

Several other houses around Brighton may be worth more including 8 Eastern Terrace nearby but none comes close in terms of history.

The excellent condition of 1 Lewes Crescent, or Fife House as it has been named, may largely be attributed to Todd Cooper and Giuseppe Sironi. As a relative newcomer to Brighton’s architecture, I was blown away by the tour that I was given by the highly motivated duo that was, arranged on, as luck would have it, the day before they sold it in 2002. It was home to William Spencer Cavendish, the Sixth Duke of Devonshire, and then to Princess Louise, the Duchess of Fife. Prior to Todd and Giuseppe’s involvement, it had been owned by the same family for over sixty years. Some parts hadn’t even been decorated since it was built and the substantial basement, forming a large part of the overall volume of the building, had even been bricked up.

A massive restoration project, which included help from the BBC’s House Detectives, led to the discovery of Crace wall paintings in the drawing room, formerly the ballroom. The Crace family was also responsible for interiors at the Royal Pavilion, the Houses of Parliament and Chatsworth, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire. Todd and Giuseppe had done more than their fair share of work so the restoration of the drawing room was understandably left to the next owner, Patrick Naughton, a telecoms millionaire. The room was completed to a high standard and is now one of the house’s best features along with an amazing wind indicator upstairs.

Many great royal figures have visited Fife House over the years including Princess (later Queen) Victoria, King William IV, Queen Adelaide and Princess Louise’s father, King Edward VII. In fact, a toilet was installed in Edward VII’s honour. A hidden spiral staircase running from the top directly to the bottom of the building alongside the main Portland stone staircase kept servants out of sight. The basement now contains what I believe is nearly Brighton’s best kitchen. It extends beyond the back wall of the main house and its 30ft ceiling rises high up the back wall. To me, this puts it second only to the Royal Pavilion’s demonstration model.

Fife House is now on the market for £2,250,000 but bearing in mind that it last sold for around £3 million, this may well be a bargain.