Sunday, 30 August 2015

Palmeira Square, Hove

Judy Middleton 2003 (revised 2015)

copyright © J.Middleton
Palmeira Square is noted for its statement porches, which gives it an aura of grandeur.

For many years the area now occupied by Palmeira Square had an air of dereliction about it. This was because of the unexpected collapse of the celebrated Antheum, which fell into an extensive pile of twisted metal, glass fragments and other building debris. Everything was just left where it was and no orders were given to clear it away.

Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid (1778-1859) owned the land, which had once been part of the Wick Estate. Sir Isaac had also been one of the backers of the Artheum and perhaps he lost heart after this disaster. There was also the matter of Adelaide Crescent to the south. The original intention for Adelaide Crescent was that it should be designed as an arc, in somewhat similar fashion to Royal Crescent, Brighton. But after the two south-facing wings were erected, building work ground to a halt. The property market was no doubt in one of its periodic slumps and no more work was undertaken until the 1850s.

When builders returned to the area, the plans were completely different. It is not clear if the original plans were lost or disregarded but Adelaide Crescent was completed in a curve with Palmeira Square following directly on the north side of either wing, in fact the layout we are familiar with today. The name ‘Palmeira’ owes its origins to Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid’s Portuguese title, Baron de Palmeira.

But there was no spectacular rush of customers; indeed Palmeira Square got off to a very slow start. No houses were listed in the 1854 Directory; the 1856 Directory noted that there were some unoccupied houses while in the 1859 Directory there were just two occupied houses and ‘very many large houses unoccupied’.

1861 Census

This census recorded 24 unoccupied houses; they were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27 and 28 while one watchman each inhabited numbers 8 and 24.

Large Houses

Many of the houses were to let in the fashionable season in the same way as Adelaide Crescent. They were in fact a property speculation and at first were not specifically for long-term family occupation. An idea of the vast quantity of space inside these houses can be gauged by an advertisement in the Brighton Gazette (30 March 1876) in which an unfurnished house was to let at £225 a year. The property was described as ‘one of those superior residences containing 14 bedrooms and 4 reception rooms, good basement and stabling at the rear’.

Architecture

copyright © J.Middleton
Thankfully the old-style lamp-posts have been kept.

The architectural style of Palmeira Square is quite different from Adelaide Crescent and Brunswick Square. Indeed, not so many years ago when Victorian buildings were completely out of fashion, examples such as Palmeira Square were condemned as being heavily Italianate. But recent appraisals have been rather more generous and some people actually prefer Palmeira Square to the Regency terraces. The heavy emphasis of the porches certainly give the square an air of respectable solidarity while the size and thickness of the massive front doors have to be seen to be believed. Palmeira Square resembles some of the fashionable London squares but with the added bonus of a sea view. Although the building lines are dense, the view from windows over the central, spacious gardens gives an impression of light and air. In fact it is an imaginative way of using space efficiently. 

  copyright © J.Middleton
These sturdy railings are in keeping with the grand scale of the houses. Boot scrapers are still much in evidence in the square. In the days of universal horse transport, it was necessary to make use of such devices before entering the house.

Maintenance

It used to be thought that, unlike Brunswick Square and Terrace, no provision had been made to ensure the facades of the Palmeira Square houses were re-painted regularly. It seems this was not so. A deed of 1865 concerning number 26 stipulated the property must be painted every successive third year, together with the doors and railings. A deed of 1892 laid down that the exterior must receive ‘three coats of best oil paint’ in a stone colour similar to other properties.

Over the years the rules were either overlooked or not enforceable. In the 1970s Hove Council undertook a survey of the houses and found that at least eight different colours were being used on the stucco; these ranged from white, grey, magnolia and yellow to shades of cream with a pink or greenish hue. Some of the paint was emulsion, some was gloss and others were covered with masonry paint. One bizarre effect of this laissez faire attitude was that a single house could be painted in different shades according to the whim of the flat dweller. Hove Council then took steps to ensure a uniform colour was used throughout Palmeira Square. The colour chosen was a gentle magnolia and many people prefer it to the somewhat violent shade of cream/yellow currently in use in the Brunswick area.

Controversial Posts

On the north east corner by St John’s Church there were some posts across the highway that were a celebrated feature of this part of Hove for many years. The posts prevented vehicular connection between Church Road and Western Road although pedestrians could merely step between them.

It meant the residents of Palmeira Square enjoyed the tranquillity of a cul-de-sac. In 1891 Hove Commissioners thought it would be a good idea to remove them but it was not until June 1896 that the town clerk enquired if that would be acceptable to the trustees of the Goldsmid Estate. There was no objection from that quarter but once residents of Palmeira Square heard about the plan, they voiced strong objections, protesting that they had not been consulted and removal of the posts would destroy the quite and seclusion of Palmeira Square and Adelaide Crescent.

Among those who signed a petition against removal of the posts were the Countess of Munster, Lady Georgiana Baillie and Lieutenant Colonel C.C. Osborne. The matter was quietly dropped for a while.

The eminent names among the protesters indicate that Palmeira Square was now the fashionable place to live while the Brunswick area began to decline.  

But the ‘posts’ question did not go away and in 1901 the Borough Surveyor was instructed to inform the relevant agent that the posts were going to be removed in order that wood-paving blocks could be installed.

Palmeira Gardens

After the collapse of the Antheum, the central piece of land was left an eyesore. It was not until building work began in Palmeira Square that the private pleasure grounds were taken in hand. Residents were subject to a special fee, known as the enclosure rate, to pay for the maintenance. The gardens had its own committee to oversee the smooth running of the gardens.

It is interesting to note that old photographs show much denser tree cover than was to be seen in the 1980s for example. This was due to the sea becoming closer in recent times with the subsequent danger of salt burn from gale force winds. In the old days before the sea wall and groynes were built, Hove possessed a long, gently shelving beach and trees had a better chance of flourishing. Even today, trees do better in the lee of buildings on the west side, which provide protection from the prevailing south-westerlies. It is always a struggle to establish trees on the more exposed east side. It seems to be a general rule in these circumstances that trees do not like being planted as single specimens but prefer to be in a small group. The elm was extensively planted at Hove precisely because they could tolerate coastal conditions.  

 copyright © J.Middleton
In this fascinating view from the air you can clearly see how dense the tree cover used to be in Palmeira Square and Adelaide Crescent.

In December 1928 there was an auctioneers’ lunch at First Avenue Hotel and Mr A.F. Graves gave a speech. He said that while Hove had a fine layout, he wished the ugly railings surrounding Palmeira Square Gardens could be removed. Captain A.B. Wales, Mayor of Hove, replied that it had been under council consideration more than once but it would need an Act of Parliament to remove them. He too would like to see the back of them.

Residents of Palmeira Square did not share these sentiments. They paid their enclosure rate and they wanted to preserve the privacy of the gardens covering one and a quarter acres.

It was the Second World War that put paid to the railings. In an excess of zeal for the war effort scores of railings in Hove, including those at Palmeira Square, Adelaide Crescent and Brunswick Square, were torn up. At Palmeira Square you can still see the filled-in round holes in the coping-stones where the railings were once fixed.

It might not have mattered so much if the railings had been of use to the armed forces but there is a lingering suspicion the railings were made of the wrong type of metal and became useless scrap.

In 1945 Hove Council mooted the idea of compulsory purchase in order to turn the private gardens of Brunswick, Adelaide and Palmeira into public open spaces. But there had to be an amendment to the Hove Commissioners Act 1873 before this could happen.

There was a Public Enquiry at Hove Town Hall on 20 December 1945 before Mr Austin A.L. Lane, Inspector of the Ministry of Health. Mr John E, Stevens, Town Clerk, put forward Hove Council’s case. He stated the Council was faced with difficulties in complying with statutory provisions, the greatest being the Government’s appropriation of the railings and the compensation given was a mere 25/- a ton. This sum would not pay for the cost of new railings, which had been estimated to cost some £705. Householders were still paying a special rate for gardens that were no longer private. Moreover, the gardens had been utilised for various war purposes and if they were to be restored, a high garden rate would have to be demanded. Owners of properties affected were mostly in favour of the gardens becoming public but it was a different story with the occupiers because a majority wished to keep them private.

In the event Hove Corporation Act 1947 came into effect with compulsory purchase orders placed on the gardens of Brunswick Square, Adelaide Crescent, Palmeira Square, Palmeira Lawn, Grand Avenue Lawn and Medina Lawn with the result that 18.31 acres were added to the parks and gardens of Hove bringing a total of 161 acres.

In March 1988 five three-year old elm saplings were planted in the gardens; they were a gift from Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce.

In June 1998 it was announced that the first stage of improvements in the gardens had begun. Plans dating back to 1874 were used as a guide and a circular bed and pathways were re-introduced. This was the result of a combined initiative between Brighton & Hove City Council, Friends of Palmeira, and Adelaide Residents’ Association. 

  copyright © J.Middleton
The view over the wonderful scented roses across the grass towards Palmeira Mansions give you an idea of how spacious the gardens are.

Palmeira Lawn

The piece of ground north of Palmeira Square was known as Palmeira Lawn in former times although technically the houses to the north and south had addresses in Western Road, Hove. It too had its own committee to run things and in 1896 Major Colwell was chairman. In that year the major complained to the authorities about the number of times the railing at the north east corner needed to be repaired after various vehicles had run into it. The solution was to set back the line of the fence.

  copyright © J.Middleton
Palmeira Lawn once housed a circular thatched structure. Note the horse bus on the right, This view was posted conveying the Season’s Greetings on 23 December 1906.

In 1913 the authorities decided Western Road ought to be widened and to do this they were prepared to sacrifice part of Palmeira Lawn; some 40 feet was lopped off the west end and 50 feet lost at the east end. It was not a cheap enterprise either because Hove Council was obliged to pay £200 to the Goldsmid / Wick Estate Trustees and the road works, alterations and reconstruction came to £1,280. Part of the cost was spent on building an underground public lavatory at the east end. It is still there today although now disused and covered over, perhaps waiting to be rediscovered in future years when everyone has forgotten it was ever there.

But al least the main part of Palmeira Lawn remained. No doubt W.C. Hillier, Chief Constable, thought he was making a brilliant and modern suggestion in February 1926 when he called for the compulsory purchase of the enclosure to enable it to be turned into a car park. But the Watch Committee did not like the idea and thankfully nothing came of it.

  copyright © J.Middleton
Palmeira Lawn provides a green oasis amidst the bustle of traffic.

  copyright © J.Middleton
This view was taken on 6 April 2002 when a more 
formal planting was in use at the Floral Clock.

Probably, the Goldsmid / Wick Estate Trustees would have objected too. They certainly did object to an earlier suggestion that Palmeira Lawn would make an ideal place to site Hove’s War Memorial and in 1919 the War Memorial Committee was urged to acquire the garden as a public improvement. No more was heard of the idea and Hove’s War Memorial was erected at the north end of Grand Avenue.


Today the central feature of the Lawn is the Floral Clock designed to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Alderman A.E. Brocke, Mayor of Hove, unveiled it on Coronation Day 2 June 1953. G.A. Hyland, Hove’s director of Parks and Cemeteries, designed it and Jack Houston, blacksmith to Hove Council, made some parts of it. Messrs Richie & Son, makers of Edinburgh Floral Clock, made the motor and clock mechanism. It is unfortunate that the clock has suffered from vandalism from time to time, especially with council funds diminishing rapidly.


  copyright © J.Middleton
 The spire of St John’s Church provides an interesting backdrop to this view across Palmeira Lawn.

House Notes

Number 1

On 2 November 1905 this house was offered as security when Osmond Elim d’Avigdor Goldsmid took out a loan for £40,000. On 22 October 1907 the house became part of the marriage settlement when Goldsmid married Rose Anne Alice Landau. Several Hove houses have this marriage settlement mentioned in their deeds.

According to the 1919 Directory Alastair Campbell Sandeman lived in the house. He must have died that year. At any rate on 21 August 1919 Wilkinson, Son & Welch held an auction on the premises. The valuable furniture included the following:

Early Georgian sideboards
Hepplewhite and Sheraton chairs
Queen Anne mahogany breakfast table
Cherry lacquer cabinet
Exceptionally fine Italian cabinet with rare marble panels and statuettes
Italian marble table
Ebony cabinet inlaid with marble
Dining table with claw and ball feet
Carved Elizabethan-style chairs
Well-made mahogany bookcase
Fumed oak bedroom suite
Spanish mahogany wardrobe
Handsome modern brass bedstead
Also included in the auction were engravings and watercolours plus a ‘well-fitted luncheon basket, hardy fishing rods, leather trunks and other useful effects’.

Hove Council granted planning permission to convert the house into flats in 1919 and in 1921.

On 3 May 1923 the house was sold for £2,590 to George Francis Donne, Brighton solicitor, whose practice was at 58 Ship Street. Mark Bromet, London gentleman, and the trustees of the Goldsmid Estate agreed to the sale. Bromet was also involved with number 10 and 11.

In the 1970s and 1980s Miron Grindea lived in a flat at number 1. Grindea was born in Romania and came to Britain in 1939. He was a leading broadcaster with the BBC European Service. In 1941 he started the Anglo-French literary magazine Adam, which carried articles about the arts, drama, architecture and music. James Harding was full of admiration for Grindea and his publication and said he scored many ‘firsts’. In an article in Punch (9 March 1977) he wrote ‘an early unknown play by Sartre? It was revealed in Adam. Letters in fluent and amazingly colourful French by Dickens? Adam had them … Run on a shoestring so thin that it must now be worn to the sheerest gossamer, Adam is the unique creation of a man who has that touch of dottiness needed to make an editor of genius.’

One of Grindea’s greatest scoops was a bi-lingual narrative by the erstwhile maitre d’hotel of the Ritz Camille Wixler who was by then in his eighties and living in Westbourne Villas, Hove. Wixler’s claim to fame was that he cooked for Marcel Proust (1871-1922) famous for his 13-volume Remembrance of Times Past. Proust kept unusual working hours that ended at dawn and he liked to order his lunch at 11.30 p.m. Wixler would cook dishes especially for him. On one occasion Wixler was at home in bed with his mistress when Proust knocked on the door. Although he apologised for the intrusion, he explained he was very hungry because he had been working hard for a long time. Proust consumed many cups of coffee to keep him going and Wixler said Proust sometimes managed to drink fifteen small cups of coffee.
Grindea completed 499 issues of Adam before he died. His old friend Anthony Rudolf said he could have completed a 500th issue but perhaps he did not want to because it was more poetic to leave the total at 499. After Grindea died King’s College acquired the archive of Adam.

Honours were heaped upon Grindea; in 1956 he became a Laureate of the French Academy, in 1972 he was appointed a Knight of the French Legion of Honour; in 1976 he became an MBE and in 1983 at the age of 73 he was made Doctor of Letters by Kent University.
His wife Carola Grindea was an equally strong personality and she was also a noted pianist.
Grindea died in November 1995 aged 86. 

The prolific artist Arnold Daghani also lived at number 1 in a flat above that occupied by his brother-in-law Miron Grindea. He was born in Russia but settled in Hove in 1977. Daghani’s most famous works were his drawings recording the harrowing time he spent as a Jewish prisoner in a Ukrainian concentration camp from 1942 to 1943 before he managed to escape.
By 1985 Daghani was seriously ill with Parkinson’s disease and moved into a nursing home. Grindea wished to preserve Daghani’s flat as a museum to his art. In January 1985 Sir Hugh Casson, retired President of the Royal Academy, and Sussex sculptor John Skelton visited Daghani’s flat and both agreed Daghani’s work ought to be preserved.

In May 1985 Hove Council turned down the free offer of Daghani’s artwork because there was no space in which to store them at Hove Museum. An offer was also made to Brighton Council with the same response.
In 1987 Sussex University agreed to accept Daghani’s output and Professor Norbet Lyndon said the collection was an outstanding historical document of the twentieth century. On 27 January 2000 Lord Attenborough opened the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at Sussex University where Daghani’s work were among the most treasured items. Fifty of his paintings are also to be found at the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem where they are regarded as an important and vital record.

Number 2

In 1884 a Miss Goldsmid lived in this house. It is probable that she was a daughter, perhaps the eldest one, of Sir Julian Goldsmid. It was customary at the time for the eldest unmarried daughter to be called Miss followed by the surname but her younger sisters would have had a first name inserted. (See also number 4 for Sir Julian Goldsmid).

Number 3

Sir Henry Stewart Cunningham (1832-1920) lived in this house. His father was vicar of Harrow and Sir Henry was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Oxford. He was called to the Bar in 1859. During the years 1872 to 1877 he was Advocate General in the Madras Presidency. In 1875 he published a novel Chronicles of Dustypore, a Tale of Modern Anglo-Indian Society. The title is reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling but in fact his work pre-dates Kipling’s output; Kipling began publishing his Indian tales in the 1880s. Sir Henry would have been quite at home in Hove where many people retired after service in the sub-continent.

 copyright © J.Middleton
House numbers 1 to 3. Miron Grindea, celebrated editor, and Arnold Daghani, artist, lived in number 1. Miss Goldsmid lived at number 2 and Sir Henry Stewart Cunningham lived at number 3.

Number 4

Sir Julian Goldsmid died in this house on 7 January 1896. Sir Julian was born in 1838 and he was the nephew of Sir Francis Henry Goldsmid; when his uncle died, he inherited the title. He was educated at University College, London, of which Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid was one of the founders.
In 1864 Sir Julian was elected a Fellow of University College and he was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn the same year. Two years later he was elected an MP and served in that capacity for a period of 30 years, firstly as MP for Honiton, then Rochester and finally for St Pancras South. He was Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and it seemed likely he would have become Speaker had his health not given way.
In March 1894 Sir Julian presented Hove Library with 103 volumes of Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates 1866-1883.

He lived in a large Jacobean mansion called Somerhill near Tonbridge in Kent, which had been acquired by Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid in 1849. He divided his time between Somerhill, Hove and his French residence near Cannes, the Villa Fiarenta. If he needed an address in London he could always stay at his London club White’s. But by the 1890s he also had a residence at 105 Piccadilly.
Goldsmid owned land in Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Berkshire, which produced an annual income of £35,000. His land holdings amounted to some 14,272 acres and although there were only 193 acres in Sussex, they were worth £20,000 a year.
Goldsmid was a director of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and in May 1892 an engine was named after him.

Goldsmid was married but the couple produced eight daughters and no sons. This meant the Goldsmid Estate passed out of the family when Sir Julian died because Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid’s will entailed it to direct male heirs. If the direct line failed, it went to the senior male descendant of Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid’s daughters.   

copyright © J.Middleton
House numbers 4 and 5. Sir Julian Goldsmid (1838-1896) lived at number 4.

Number 7

On 9 April 1934 the house was sold to Mrs Susannah Elizabeth Ivens, wife of Richard Ivens, for £2,000. The property had been subject to the same mortgage and marriage settlement as outlined in number 1.

In 1922 planning permission was given to convert the property into flats.

Number 8

On 22 August 1918 the lease of the house was sold to Moise Mazza of number 5 Palmeira Square. Between June 1918 and 24 June 1919, there was to be a peppercorn rent and thereafter an annual rent of £111-17-6d.

In 1921 Hove Council gave planning permission for the property to be converted into flats.

On 13 February 1933 the house was sold to Richard Ivens for £1,500.

The property had been subject to the same mortgage and marriage settlement as outlined in number 1.

In the 1950s the author Madelaine Duke lived in flat 3 in this house. She was born in 1925. Her father was of British, French and Dutch ancestry and was a lawyer and adviser to the Austrian Government. An ancestor of the family was Verity Duke who lived at Rottingdean in the 17th century and was the local wise woman making brews and ointments from herbs.

In 1939 her parents persuaded Madelaine to return to Scotland where she was being educated but refused to leave Austria themselves. They later died under Nazi occupation in a concentration camp at Minsk. The Nazis looted the family’s priceless art collection and Madelaine made many fruitless attempts in later years to have them returned.

Madelaine was multi-lingual and she qualified as a doctor in Edinburgh. She married Dr Alexander Macfarlane who became well known in Sussex as a consultant chest physician. Local people found the d├ęcor of their Hove flat arresting to say the least and there were orange cushions on the sofa.
In 1951 Madelaine contracted polio and became almost completely paralysed down one side of her body. But she forced herself to do exercises and eventually recovered. At the time of her illness she was working on her first book. It was an exciting yarn called Top Secret Mission published in 1954.As the book was based on fact it was thought too dangerous to have an author’s photo and so her friend Jean Sharp drew an artist’s impression, which was used for publicity purposes. 
Other books followed;  
Slipstream; the story of Anthony Duke (1955)
No Passport (1957).

By 1975 Madelaine no longer lived at Hove and she had written 24 books, some of them under the names of Alex Duncan and Maxine Donne. The Alex Duncan series was about a vet’s experiences and the first one was published in 1961; these were her most popular works. She also wrote medical mysteries and later a series about a country doctor with the first one being published in 1980.

 copyright © J.Middleton
These cheerful flowers are at number 8 where author Madelaine Duke once lived in a flat.

Number 11

On 22 February 1891 the property was conveyed to Edwin Frend.

In 1927 Hove Council gave planning permission for the house to be converted into flats and in the same year permission was also given for number 10 also to be turned into flats. W.H. Overton drew up plans for both houses on behalf of Mr Mark Bromet who was also involved with number 1.

Number 15

Lieutenant General H.J. Stannus occupied this house in 1884. In 1881 he published Curiosities of the Victoria Cross. Stannus is an unusual surname and perhaps he was related to Ephraim Gerrish Stannus (born 1794) who was Colonel of the 10th Bombay Native Infantry from 1829 to 1840.

Number 17

On 10 May 1894 Sir Julian Goldsmid and the trustees of the Goldsmid Estate sold this house and numbers 67-72 Western Road, Hove to James Fisher of Hove for £5,000. No trade was permitted at Palmeira Square but the back part of the dining room on the ground floor for a space of fourteen feet could be partitioned off and used in connection with the shop in Western Road.

Number 19

Major Sir Henry Joseph d’Avigdor Goldsmid (1909-1976) lived here in the 1950s. He was the eldest son of Sir Osmond Elim d’Avigdor Goldsmid who was the grandson of Rachel Goldsmid and Count Solomon Henry d’Avigdor and they married in 1840. Sir Osmond inherited the Goldsmid Estate (and was obliged to change his surname to Goldsmid) because Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid’s direct male line ceased when Sir Julian Goldsmid died in 1896 at 4 Palmeira Square; in that case the estate was entailed to descend through the male descendants of Sir Isaac’s daughters.

During the Second World War Sir Henry served with the Royal West Kent Regiment. He was Mentioned in Dispatches, he was awarded the MC and DSO and he was wounded.
Sir Henry was a friend of Osbert Sitwell and John Betjeman. In 1955 he was elected MP for Walsall. Sir Henry died in 1976, having never recovered from the tragic death of his daughter Sarah Venetia in a boating accident. There is a Marc Chagall window to her memory at All Saints Church, Tudelay, near Tonbridge. In 1998 Sarah’s sister Chloe was badly injured in a riding accident; her mother thought she might lose this daughter too. But fortunately she recovered and she continued the family tradition by becoming High Sheriff of Kent, a position once held by her father Sir Henry. Chloe married James Teacher, the whisky heir and there are two daughters of the marriage, Petra and Poppy.

Meanwhile Sir Henry’s brother James Arthur succeeded to the title. Like his brother he too became an MP and was awarded a MC in the war. He opened the hall of the new synagogue in Palmeira Avenue, Hove. Sir James died in 1987 and the title ceased with him.

 copyright © J.Middleton
 Numbers 18 and 19. Sir Henry Joseph d’Avigdor Goldsmid (1909-1976) lived at number 19.

Number 20

On 5 August 1932 the house was sold to Charles Richard Rivers for £2,500. It was stated that the north and south walls were party walls while the wall on the west side belonged wholly to the adjoining property at 37 St John’s Road. At the same time permission was given for the property to be converted into not more than five self-sufficient flats or three private self-contained maisonettes, each with a rental value of £100. This property had been subject to the same mortgage and marriage settlement as outlined for number 1.

Number 22

 copyright © D.Sharp
Lord George Nevill
(1910 photograph from the Brighton Season Magazine)
Lord and Lady George Nevill lived in this house. He was the third son of the 1st Marquess of Abergavenny and he was born on 23 September 1856. He was educated at Eton and served as a Lieutenant in the West Kent Militia. In his earlier years he was a fearless rider to hounds and he established the Eridge Hunt Steeplechase. On the occasion of his wedding, the Eridge Hunt presented him with a full-length portrait of himself painted by Sidney Hodges.
On 9 October 1882 Lord George married eighteen-year old Florence Mary, only child of Mr Temple Soames of Pembury Grange. There were two sons and a daughter of the marriage.
The couple had also lived at 14 Palmeira Square and it was from this address that Lady Nevill wrote a letter to Hove Council offering to donate a print of a portrait of the 1st Marquess of Abergavenny wearing his robes as Lord Lieutenant of Sussex if they so wished. They did and the formal presentation was made on 11 June 1908.
The Brighton Gazette (2 September 1910) carried an article about Sunday Morning Church Parade on Brunswick Lawns. ‘Lord and Lady George Nevill were also amongst those out, the latter looking very chic in a coat and skirt of pale heliotrope and large Merry Widow hat’.
Lady George was a very public-spirited woman and opened a hospital during the Great War. (See number 24). She was Deputy President of Brighton, Hove, Preston and Patcham Red Cross Society, President of Brighton and Hove Ladies Golf Club (her husband was Treasurer) and President of Brighton Section of the National Canine Defence League. In 1915 she donated a drinking trough for horses that stood outside St John’s Church. After the Great War she received a CBE and became a Lady of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

 copyright © J.Middleton
This postcard of Sunday Morning Church Parade was posted on 24 August 1912.
 
Lord and Lady George’s younger son was Captain Rupert William Nevill of the 15th Rifle Brigade. He died aged 34 at 22 Palmeira Square on 3 November 1918. It must have been heartbreaking for his parents who had seen him invalided out of the Army some ten months previously. His health must have been weakened already and he succumbed to the terrible scourge of Spanish flu followed by pneumonia. He was not buried at Hove but in the churchyard of Holy Trinity, Eridge Green, which is close to Eridge Castle, the family seat of the Marquess of Abergavenny.
Lord George Nevill died at 22 Palmeira Square in August 1920. Lady George received messages of condolence from Queen Mary and Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. The funeral was held at Christ Church, Brighton where Lord George had been a sides-man. The Bishop of Lewes conducted the service. Lord and Lady Henry Nevill and his sisters Countess Brassey and Lady Cicely Gathorne-Hardy attended the service. Also present were Viscount Hardinge, Frances, Lady De L’Isle, Lady Eva de Paravicini, Charles Thomas-Stanford, and R.D. Sassoon. In addition there were members of staff from 22 Palmeira Square plus Sister Derbyshire, Mrs Searle (late matron) and other members from Lady George Nevill Hospital. Lord George Nevill was buried at Hove Cemetery and in 1922 Lady George purchased the adjoining plot for seven guineas.
Lady George died on 18 December 1929 at Clifton, Bristol but her body was brought back for burial at Hove. Her funeral was held at St John’s Church and members of staff from 22 Palmeira Square attended; they were V. Milton, Miss Corry, Miss Walker, Miss E. Burgess, D. MacMahon, F. Baker and B. Galtry (butler to Lady George’s late father).
The Nevill grave at Hove Cemetery is a curious mixture of family pride and simplicity because although there is the Nevill coat of arms the inscription is extremely terse; George Montacute Nevill 1856-1920 and Florence Mary Nevill 1860-1929. The grave is on the south side of Old Shoreham Road, north west of the chapels and shaded by a holly tree.
  
Number 23

The Earl and Countess of Munster lived in this house. The 2nd Earl of Munster (1824-1901) was born on 19 May 1824, son of George Fitzclarence, 1st Earl of Munster (1794-1842) who was one of ten children born to Prince William (later William IV) and actress Dorothea Jordan, his mistress for 22 years. The Earls of Munster were entitled to use the arms of William IV ‘debruised by a baton sinister’.

The 2nd Earl married Wilhelmina, daughter of the Honourable John Kennedy-Erskine, who was the second son of the 12th Earl of Cassillis. George and Wilhelmina were both grandchildren of William IV.
The 2nd Earl of Munster followed a military career for ten years, serving in the Scots Fusiliers and the 1st Life Guards. Two of his sons also served in the military. The eldest son Lord Tewkesbury was a Captain in the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) and served with distinction in the Afghan War; the third son the Honourable Harold Edward became a Lieutenant in the King’s Own (Yorkshire) Regiment. The second son the Honourable Aubrey Fitzclarence was a gentleman usher to Queen Victoria. The elder daughter Lady Lilian married Captain W.A.E. Boyd of the 2nd Life Guards while the younger daughter married Mr C.B. Lee Warner.

The 2nd Earl and Countess of Munster lived latterly at 23 Palmeira Square where the Earl died on 30 April 1901. The Countess continued to occupy the house. No doubt she was busy writing her book of memoirs, which was published in 1904. She remembered staying at Brunswick Terrace as a child where her mother had a house. She recalled that on one occasion when she was suffering from bad toothache, her nurse took her for a walk on the Chain Pier and there they encountered William IV out for a stroll. Upon learning the reason for her doleful expression, he promised that if she were a good girl he would ensure two special little visitors came to her house. The visitors turned out to be two beautiful dolls dressed in ball-gowns, one in pink with ‘Mina’ embroidered on the dress and the other in blue for her sister with ‘Millicent’ spelt out on her dress. It must have been some consolation for having her tooth extracted.  
The Countess died at her home in Palmeira Square on 9 October 1906. She was buried in the family vault at Cuckfield.

 copyright © J.Middleton
Numbers 22, 23 and 24. Lord and Lady George Nevill lived at number 22, the Earl and Countess of Munster lived at number 23 and the Lady George Nevill Hospital was located at number 24 during the Great War.
Number 24

 copyright © Brighton & Hove City Libraries
Lady George Nevill was deemed worthy to be included in 
the volumes of Hove’s Roll of Honour due to her war work.
When Lady George Nevill had the idea of helping the war effort by opening her own hospital, Mr d’Avigdor Goldsmid kindly lent her number 24 Palmeira Square. It was very convenient for her since she lived at number 22. This was a hospital for a particular type of patient and her work was inspired by visiting a London hospital and noticing how servicemen suffering from nervous disorders seemed out of place in a place geared to the treatment of physical injuries. Thus the Lady George Nevill Hospital, which opened on 17 March 1917, was especially for ‘soldiers suffering from shell shock, partial paralysis and other nerve injuries requiring highly specialized and lengthy treatment’. Today no doubt the trouble would be identified as post-traumatic stress disorder.

The hospital was the neurological section of the 2nd Eastern General Hospital. Lady George roped in her husband to help and he filled the roles of Hon. Secretary and Hon. Treasurer. In August 1917 Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll visited the hospital. It had all the latest electrical equipment and remained in operation until May 1919 when the equipment was presented to Royal Sussex County Hospital. In June 1919 it re-opened as an orthopaedic centre in conjunction with the Ministry of Pensions.
Lady George also provided the first fleet of local ambulances run jointly by the British Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance Brigade. Hove Council Minutes of 1919 record that four of Lady George’s ambulances were stored at Wick Garage in Davigdor Road and could be hired by the public. 

Number 26

It was in a deed dated 1865 concerning this house that there are details about the maintenance of this property and how the facade must be pained every three years. This rule was still being re-iterated in deeds of the 1920s; no laundry was to be displayed either. A conveyance of 1932 stipulated how many flats or maisonettes the house could be converted into.

On 4 February 1865 there was an indenture between John Bardoe Howes Elliott and Sir Francis Goldsmid and the trustees of the Goldsmid Estate concerning the land behind the house and the proposed coach-house and stable. It seems that Mr Elliott was a man of colourful character with a habit of flitting from address to address. The London Gazette (8 July 1879) carried a notice under the Bankruptcy Act 1869 concerning proceedings for liquidation instigated by John Bardoe Howes Elliott. His address was given as formerly of 19 Dover Street, Piccadilly, then of 30 Chester Square, afterwards of 3 William Street, Lowndes Square and now of 68 Pall Mall, all in Middlesex; also of Chesterfield Park near Saffron Walden, Essex. He was described as a Club proprietor and a lodging-house keeper.

By 1907 the property was mortgaged to Lewis Woolf for £2,000.

Number 27

In 1884 Major General Sir Peter Melville-Melville (1803-1895) lived in this house. He was born in Cornwall and joined the Bengal Army in 1819. He enjoyed a long military career but not the swashbuckling sort. Instead, he worked behind the scenes and indeed almost from the outset he joined the Gujerat Revenue Survey and was later posted to the Revenue Survey Department. In 1860 an unknown artist painted a splendid portrait of him that is now to be found in the National Army Museum. He is dressed in red military jacket with high, gold decorated collar. He sports a magnificent grey moustache and a luxuriant head of grey hair with bouffant curls at ear level – not for him a short back and sides. He retired on 31 December 1861 with the honorary rank of Major General.

On 15 November 1897 the trustees of the Goldsmid Estate sold the house for £3,500 to Emma Montefiore, widow, of 18 Portman Square, London

  copyright © J.Middleton
Major General Sir Peter Melville-Melville lived at number 27.

Number 28

In 1884 Lady Isabella Stewart lived in this house.

Number 29

The 1861 census recorded the people living in this house. They were Edward Norton Harper, a 42-year old wine merchant, his wife Mary Ann aged 42, and their brood of children; Mary Ann 19, Ellen Elizabeth 17, Emmeline 16, Alice Norton 14, Alfred Norton 14, Gertrude 8, Constance 6, Herbert 4, Frederick 2 and one year old Randolph. There were also five female servants and one male servant.

On 3 March 1892 Sir Julian Goldsmid and trustees of the Goldsmid Estate sold the house for £4,000 to Lucy Katherine Campbell Walter.

In 1916 Hove Council gave planning permission to convert the property into two maisonettes.

Number 30

copyright © J.Middleton
The author Shane Leslie (1885-1971) lived at Palmeira Court, 30 Palmeira Square.

On 13 August 1971 the author Shane Leslie died. He lived at 16b Palmeira Court, 30 Palmeira Square. Sir John Randolph Shane Leslie (1885-1971) was a cousin of Sir Winston Churchill. Their fathers had married sisters who were daughters of Leonard Jerome of New York. Leslie’s mother, Leonie Blanche, left him many souvenirs and photographs of Churchill’s early life.

In 1912 Shane Leslie married Marjorie, younger daughter of Henry C. Ide of Vermont, USA, late Governor of the Philippines and US Ambassador to Spain. There were two sons of the marriage.
Leslie became a professor, poet and author and he succeeded to the title in 1944. While he was living at Hove in 1967 he offered Ireland his collection relating to the great Irish patriot, Charles Stewart Parnell.     
His published works included the following:
Life of Cardinal Manning (1922)
George the Fourth (1926)
The Epic of Jutland (1930)
The Oxford Movement (1933)
The Film of Memory (1938)
Life of Mrs Fitzherbert (1939)
Letters of Mrs Fitzherbert (1940)
From Cabin Boy to Archbishop (1942)
Shane Leslie’s Ghost Book (1955)

Number 32

The 1861 census recorded Rickman Ross at this house. He was a 55-year old manufacturer who employed 65 men. He was born at Clapham, Surrey and now lived at Hove with his wife, daughter, three female servants and two male servants.

Number 34

According to the 1861 census Lady Emily Fletcher lived in this house with her mother, three daughters, two sons, two governesses, six female servants and two male servants.

Numbers 30, 31, 32, 32, 34

On 20 October 1904 Hove Council gave planning permission to the Wick Estate, also known as the Goldsmid Estate, to convert these houses into flats. It is interesting to note that in 1945 Wick Estate still owned 26 houses in Palmeira Square.

Miscellaneous

In 1944 the Grenadier Guards were billeted in the square.

In the 1980s boat designer Peter Birkett lived in the square. He designed Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Challenger II and Gentry Eagle. The latter won the Atlantic Race from New York to the Isles of Scilly in July 1989 and the former won the same event three years earlier.

In February 2000 a garden flat occupying the whole ground floor was on sale for £295,000. There was an ornate white marble fireplace in the reception room and a west-facing rear garden. A two-bedroom ground floor flat with its own entrance was on sale for £350,000.

In 2002 it was reported that foxes were to be seen at night in the square.

Sources

Argus
Census Returns
Directories
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Hove Commissioners Books
Hove Council Minute Books

The Keep

Records relating to the Goldsmid Estate. This is a very detailed archive, previously lodged with solicitors Fitzhugh Gates. The reference number is ACC 4982/68/1-43. Below is a selection.

ACC 4982/68/17 Deeds relating to Palmeira Square 1865-1935
ACC 4982/68/33 Marriage Settlement Osmond Elim d’Avigdor Goldsmid 1907
ACC 4982/68/35 Abstract of title to the Goldsmid Estate 1879

I am indebted to the late David Spector for his knowledge of Jewish Family History

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