Courtenay Terrace

A two bedroom flat in Hove for around £600,000? At these prices, Lewes Crescent flat owners would need to get saving.

Courtenay Terrace’s seven imposing buildings – Courtenay House, Tye, Beach, Lodge and Towers along with Courtenayside and Little Courtenay – are all Grade II Listed. The first four of these, each with beach-facing canopies, were built in around 1840 but Courtenay Towers and Courtenayside were added in the 1930s when an adjacent large seafront villa was converted into flats. Although residents of Courtenay Gate (the fine Art Deco block overlooking Hove Lawns) and Flag Court (the neighbouring Siberian monstrosity) include Courtenay Terrace within their addresses, I’m only concerned with the actual terrace itself. Courtenay Terrace is likely to have taken its name from the Honourable Elizabeth Courtenay who is commemorated in a wall tablet at St. Andrew’s Church, Waterloo Street. The spelling has varied over the years with ‘Courtnay’ and ‘Courteney’ having been used previously.

Courtenay Terrace is rather different to the more famous seafront developments in that it faces north, not south. Due to the size of the rear gardens – with back gates opening directly onto the promenade – this potential liability is in fact a great asset; hence the price. It was once the only development on the South Coast with a private beach but this was compulsorily purchased in 1908 so that the promenade could be created. The year afterwards, plans were drawn up for Western Esplanade by Hove Lagoon (Millionaires’ Row!) to be built which included a private beach.

There’s mounting pressure to make all private beaches public and fairly recent right-of-way legislation is one big step in this direction. At the very least, change should be gradual and compensatory towards current owners – property rights should be respected. In my opinion, a good argument exists for there never to have been development south of the coast road. Of course, it’s too late to change the arrangement now but Brighton & Hove City Council could at least increase the gaps between nearby beach huts so that one can glimpse the sea more easily from the road!

Architecturally, Courtenay Terrace is a real mix, made all the more interesting by a varying building line and height. The style could be described as ‘extravagant Victorian seaside’. Despite the main road location, calm shades of cream paint combined with various fairytale outcrops make for a pleasing proposition to say the very least.