Chichester Terrace

Chichester Terrace
Chichester Terrace

This western arm of the estate, comprising 15 houses (2 more than Arundel Terrace to the east) was the last part of the estate to be completed. Not until the mid 1850s, some 30 years later than the earliest constructions, was the whole terrace completed. This was under the direction of Thomas Cubitt.( see 13 Lewes Crescent )

Thomas Cubitt
Thomas Cubitt

The most western building, Chichester House, was the first to be built (in 1832) and indeed for some 20 years stood alone, with no other building until No 13. Its design is entirely separate from the rest of the terrace and typical of the work of Busby. For example, a broad bow towards the sea with a narrower one towards Chichester Place, and giant Corinthian pilasters mark it off from the rest. Cubitt modified the design for the intervening houses, merely stepping forward Nos 3 and 11 and the central group, Nos 6-8 (with No 7 stepped further forward) but one can’t help feeling that the overall effect is too subtle to be appreciated. All houses, except for No 3, have enclosed verandas (ofter referred to as belvederes) over their Greek Doric porches.

Chichester House, like many other houses on the estate, was for much of the 19th century used as a school. The Rev Dr George Proctor, formerly Headmaster of Lewes Grammar School and of Elizabeth College, Guernsey, began a Young Gentlemen’s Academy there in 1832. It remained as a school until at least 1859. A popular urban myth is that Charles Dickens, a regular visitor to the Bedford Hotel in the 1830s and 40s used Chichester House as the model for Dr Blimber’s Academy in Dombey and Son (1846-48), where the frail Paul Dombey is sent for his health.

Chichester House
Chichester House

No 14 at the eastern end must be considered as the start of this grand show piece: indeed it has a similar wreath relief on its porch to that of Chichester House, creating a sense of bookends. In fact, this house and Nos 1 and 2 Lewes Crescent round the corner were originally all owned by the Duke of Devonshire from 1828, although he kept them as separate houses.

The terrace has remained relatively unscathed by unsightly additions which have eluded the planners (in contrast to Arundel Terrace). Only railings and decking on the very top floors have been added, but these do not offend the eye or detract from the integrity of the architecture below.

Notable residents include the composer, Richard Addinsel, who is commemorated by a blue plaque at No 5, and William Cubitt (brother of Thomas) who occupied No 11 until 1859.

St Mary’s Hall School used No 2 as a boarding house from 1934 -1964

St Mary's Hall cricket team
St Mary’s Hall cricket team