Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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ch. xvii                 BRIGHTON'S STORIED PAST                          161
Ring rising solemnly beyond. Brighton, however, knows little of these homes of peace, for she looks only out to sea or towards London.
Brighton was, however, interesting a hundred years ago; when the Pavilion was the favourite resort of the First Gentleman in Europe (whose opulent charms, preserved in the permanency of mosaic, may be seen in the Museum); when the Steyne was a centre of fashion and folly; coaches dashed out of Castle Square every morning and into Castle Square every evening ; Munden and Mrs. Siddons were to be seen at one or other of the theatres; Martha Gunn dipped ladies in the sea; Lord Frederick Beauclerck played long innings on the Level; and Mr. Barrymore took a pair of horses up Mrs. Fitzherbert's stair≠case and could not get them down again without the assistance of a posse of blacksmiths.
Brighton was interesting then, reposing in the smiles of the Prince of Wales and his friends. But it is interesting no more,ówith the Pavilion a show place, the Dome a concert hall, the Steyne an enclosure, Martha Gunn in her grave, the Chain Pier a memory, Mrs. Fitzherbert's house the head≠quarters of the Young Men's Christian Association, and the Brighton road a racing track for cyclists, motor cars and walking stockbrokers. Brighton is entertaining, salubrious, fashionable, what you will. Its interest has gone.
The town's rise from Brighthelmstone (pronounced Brighton) a fishing village, to Brighton, the marine resort of all that was most dashing in English society, was brought about by a Lewes doctor in the days when Lewes was to Brighton what Brighton now is to Lewes. This doctor was Richard Russell, born in 1687, who, having published in 1750 a book on the remedial effects of sea water, in 1754 removed to Brighton to be able to attend to the many patients that were flocking thither. That book was the beginning of Brighton's greatness. The seal was set upon it in 1783, when the Prince of Wales, then a young man just one and twenty, first visited the town.
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