Brighton. A Bird’s-eye View from the Preston Road


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Aquatint engraving by D Havell after Joseph Cordwell. Published by Cordwell from 20 Great East Street, Brighton, August 1819.

Following the road into the distance, the large house at the far end of the Steine is Russell House, built by Dr Richard Russell and pulled down about five years after this print. On the hill to the far right can be seen St Nicholas Church.

In the centre distance, Cordwell has portrayed the developing skyline of the Pavilion. In 1817 the north and south wings were under construction, ‘covered with the pagoda towers, terminating in a conical point’ (The Brighton Ambulator by C Wright, 1818). This print after Cordwell was published in the summer of 1819, and together with the new pagoda towers, the artist depicts the first onion dome, over the central Round Saloon. This had been started the summer before, and ‘by October 1818 the immense circular iron frame with its ribs to support the new central dome was in place’ (A Prince’s Passion by Jessica Rutherford, 2003). Although the Pavilion is in the far distance, Cordwell’s depiction of it seems to be a faithful portrayal of its development at this date, unlike many views, which were artists’ projections, sometimes incorrect, of what it might look like.

This engraving was republished c1879 with the addition to the title Sixty Years Ago.

The view was taken from where Ditchling Road now runs, and the artist could be as far north as its intersection with the present Ditchling Rise. The view was taken a few years before St Peter’s Church was built.

Illustrated in Brighton, Old Ocean’s Bauble by Edmund W Gilbert. Methuen, 1954, p 109.

Also illustrated in Georgian Brighton by Sue Berry. Phillimore, 2005, p 126.

Also illustrated in Old Brighton: A Collection of Prints, Paintings and Drawings by Eileen Hollingdale. George Nobbs Publishing, 1979, p 30.

Images of Brighton 35 and illustrated on page 19.

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