Park Royal Hotel

A ghost of times past: Part I

By Mark Thompson

 
Photo:Park Royal c1930s

Park Royal c1930s

From the private collection of Mark Thompson

Bland 1970s flats

Next time you walk up Montpelier Road towards the Seven Dials, shortly after you cross over Upper North Street, you'll see a block of flats on your left, set back behind a wall and a screen of trees. You may have been past it a hundred times. It is nothing remarkable, a typically bland 1970s block, with a faintly ludicrous name 'Park Royal'. But it is that name, and the obviously much older wall, built of beach cobbles, which gives the lie to its history.

Alice and the rabbit hole

50 years ago, a walk down Montpelier was much the same- the traffic looked different, of course, and one didn't have to watch out for anyone rollerblading down the road, either. But turn in through that gateway in the flint wall, and you stepped, like Alice through the rabbit hole, into another world. A gravel drive crunched underfoot as you looked up at a country mansion built in a grand Jacobean style. Tall, mullioned windows, elaborate Dutch gables, and a deep entrance porch invited you in.

Like a country estate

Already the traffic on Montpelier Road seemed distant, taken over by birdsong from the trees in the grounds which surrounded the old mansion, making it feel like you were now in a country estate. The only nod to its location was the building materials- its whole frontage was cobbled flints, with cream painted quoins and mullions. True Brighton vernacular, and probably unique for its style.

Built by Rev H M Wagner

This was the old Park Royal Hotel. Originally built in 1840 by Henry Mitchell Wagner, the vicar of Brighton, for his unmarried sister, the house was named Belvedere. This was passed on to other members of the same family, and when the last member died in 1902, the house was sold, and became a hotel, known as the "Sixty-Six".

Read Part II of the Park Royal Hotel here

This page was added on 23/03/2017.
Comments about this page

Nice piece Mark, I live quite close by, but I didn't know about Park Royal, thanks!

By Peter Groves (24/03/2017)

And the Park Royal housed a popular jazz club.

By Geoffrey Stoner (25/03/2017)

Another fabulous Brighton building demolished without consideration. I have seen the Old Brighton I grew up in disappear over the years and the replacement buildings have no character whatever, it is unclear how planning consent was ever obtained for some. Brighton has lost the charm it had when I was a youngster and while it is still an attraction to visitors, the place is now very dirty and unkempt. One only has to view the not so old photographs to see the great buildings and how the gardens used to be around the city. The Old Steine and war memorial  is a classic example covered in rubbish and bird droppings. Not progress in my opinion.

By Roger Ivermee (29/03/2017)

Geoffrey. It was called the Coneyhill Jazz Club.

 

By Patrick Benham (28/08/2017)

I seem to recall that the pavilion young conservatives met in the basement room of the Park Royal on a Friday evening back in the 60s.

By David (08/09/2017)

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