1 Albany Villas

Whilst perusing the Regency Society’s James Gray collection of old photographs online recently, I spotted a delightful detached double-fronted building called Ventnor Lodge that once stood on Ventnor Villas. It is now a dreary block of flats.

1 Albany Villas, or ‘White Knights’ as it’s known, is a similar delightful house but it managed to survive that awful period. And it is a block to the south, just by the sea.

Having changed hands in 1967 for £16,750 and then in 1976 for £40,000, White Knights was bought by Mr and Mrs Lindsay in 1984. At that time it was back as a whole house after a spell as separate flats. Part of what makes the building so interesting now is trying to work out the rooms were once arranged. Grand spaces remain but there are now en-suites and dressing rooms. Many great features are intact too such as huge architraves on all of the doorframes in the downstairs hall.

The layout of White Knights today is remarkably flexible in that both attic and basement levels can be used as almost self-contained flats or simply as extra rooms in the house. Planning permission was obtained in 1962 for one of the basement rooms to be used as a garage. The work did go ahead and the garage was accessed via a ramp through the front garden. It has now been returned though to more or less as it should be. An old photograph of White Knights that I saw, perhaps from around 1900, shows that the dormer window at the front is not original – but the lion on the porch was definitely there at that time.

Mrs Lindsay showed me a copy of an old document relating to the building which mentions a transaction dated 15th September 1853 involving William Fitzpatrick, George Gallard and George Hall. These three men along with Richard Webb Mighell were the original developers of Cliftonville, my favourite part of Hove. The document actually mentions Gallard living in the building to the north of White Knights and this is backed up by the 1861 census. No. 1 though was originally numbered as 45 and its neighbour (now No. 3) as 44.

The census also shows nine members of the Smith family in residence. The oldest, 52 year old Frances Smith, is recorded as a farmer and the youngest, 2 year old Agnes Smith, as a scholar!