Published 12th December 2006
The closure of the Hanbury Ballroom and adjacent Hanbury Arms following seven exciting years under the direction of Gavin George caused disappointment to many. But, it was running at a loss and changes needed to be made. Although the venue’s recent history is pretty interesting, we really should travel back to the late 1800s to see why such a unique building came to be built one block away from the sea.
Over a period of many years, the relationship between the great Jewish mercantile family, the Sassoons, and Brighton & Hove was strong. Arthur Sassoon lived at 8 King’s Gardens in Hove and King Edward VII often visited. Around this time, the magnificent synagogue on Middle Street benefited greatly from the Sassoons’ patronage. It was built in 1874-5 and was the first synagogue in Britain to have electric lighting. Sir Albert Sassoon lived at 1 Eastern Terrace, one of the most imposing properties on the Kemp Town seafront, from 1876-96. In 1892, Sir Albert built a mausoleum for his family on the corner of St George’s Road and Paston Place - directly behind his house.
Like the Royal Pavilion, the mausoleum has both oriental and Indian features. Its pagoda roof was restored several years ago with the help of a £56,000 English Heritage grant and looks great inside and out. Sir Albert was buried inside in 1896 and his son, Sir Edward, followed in 1912. Sir Edward’s son, Sir Philip, sold it in 1933 and transported their remains to London. The site of the family’s riding school, on the other side of St George’s Road, became an Odeon cinema in 1934 and was used, along with the mausoleum, as an air raid shelter during the Second World War. The Grade II Listed mausoleum became part of the adjacent Hanbury Arms pub in 1956. The Odeon was demolished in 1986 and the not so awful Cavendish Court was built on the plot.
Following a renovation project costing over £100,000, the husband and wife team of Chris Edwardes and Amanda Blanch, the owners of the Blanch House boutique hotel nearby on Atlingworth Street, have just reopened the two Hanbury venues as one – the Hanbury Club.
The Hanbury is an amazing venue with reasonably priced drinks and no West Street louts! Memberships are available but non-members are welcome. See www.hanburyclub.com for details.