Comments about this page

This is an interesting page. My great-grandfather was Henry Infield, his son Albert my grandfather. They lived in Sylvan Lodge. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has more knowledge of this home when my ancestors lived there.

By Rhonda Skelton (nee Infield) (15/05/2008)

The Brighton Business Centre at the junction of Viaduct and Ditchling Roads has obviously seen numerous occupants and uses. During the 1950s and 1960s it was the Territorial Army's Records Office.

By Len Liechti (24/07/2008)

My great-grandfather was Freddrick Waller, Head Gardener of Sylvan Lodge during 1908. I would be so interested to find out more about the house and the family who lived in it. I do have an article written in Garden Life about the gardens and his work. I have just started my family tree so would love to hear anything about this lovely old Victorian garden. His daughter was my grandmother.

By Jill Behrens (11/10/2009)

Although I lived with my parents in Hollingbury in the 1960’s, my school friends and I attended St Saviour’s Church. On Friday evenings there was a youth club in the crypt at which beat groups (including my own) often performed. The club was overseen by the late Rev “Kipper” McCrae, who was one of the nicest and most benignly influential people I have ever met. Most people alive and conscious at the time remember where they were that Friday evening, 22nd November 1963, when they heard the news of JFK’s assassination; my friends and I were with the Rev McCrae at Confirmation classes in the St Saviour’s vicarage. Although I have not lived in Brighton since 1969, my mother, stepfather, and two of my children live there. I have always thought it scandalous that St Saviour’s was destroyed but, until reading this article, I was unaware that the Vere Road entrance had been preserved. Thank you for that, I shall ensure that I visit it next time I am in Brighton. Does anyone know what happened to the reredos? It really was impressive.

By Philip Scott (19/03/2010)

Sylvan Hall. My grandparents lived in this beautiful old house during the early 50's. They lived in the basement, an interesting apartment, windows facing a wall, dark rooms as I recall. Grandad used to find interesting places in the extensive gardens for us kids to see. The monkey bars? A large iron frame cage type construction. I recall the front entrance, with sloping grass bank from the pathway to the front door. I rolled down that slope and cut my knee rather badly on a slice of flint stone. I think my grandparents were residents for about a year, grandad used to keep the furnace burning, but the coal dust did harm to his already weak chest.

By Bonny Cother (19/03/2010)

Bonny Cother, your grandfather must have been Mr Smith. I lived in a flat in the old house at Sylvan Hall from 1948 to about 1952 and I remember him. I am not surprised to hear he had a weak chest, he did cough a bit. We called the monkey bars the monkey cage but I believe it really used to be an aviary. We were the only monkeys, climbing up the bars and the big tree in the centre and doing somersaults. I don't know how none of us came a cropper. There were several children in the old flats. There was Mary in the basement, older than the rest and not one to hang upside down from a pole with her knickers showing. In the attic flat was Doreen Smith who had ringlets. Beneath her were the three Hogan girls, Angela, Sheila and Cristobel. Their father was headmaster of a Catholic school. In a flat on the ground floor at the back lived Jill Radcliff, and above her myself and my baby brother - the only boy. I have a photograph of all of us beside the derelict fountain. Maybe I should upload it.

By Eleanor Fry (02/04/2010)

I used to attend scouts at St Saviours and have fond recollections of evenings spent in the crypt doing scout type things. I lived in Springfield Road from about 1964 until 1988 when I moved to Somerset. I always remember the area with great happiness and often return to look around it and see the changes. St Saviours Court was built by a company called Postyle Homes and I was the contracts manager for the dry lining company during its construction so mixed thoughts on that one. I also, with fondness remember Jack and Betty who ran the Roundhill public house over the road from the church and the monkey that lived in a cage up high just a few doors up from the pub. The Downs school was my "home" for about 7 years and the standard was good compared to many others. I also remember the snow of 1967 being so deep I had to be carried by my father. A superb area and some wonderful memories.

By Stuart Chandler (01/07/2011)

Oh my gosh, Eleanor, Mary was my cousin, now sadly deceased. Mr. Cother was my grandfather, who lived with my grandmother in the basement. He did cough. They had an Alsatian dog for awhile there, Rolf. I was four/five years old and spent time with them. You are right about the monkey cage, but I feel unless there was a net across it, birds would have flown free. So lovely to see your note.

By Bonny Cother (03/08/2013)

Does anyone know what the silver turrets on Ditchling Road were built for? One is on the pub on the corner of Florence place; the other is across the road on the corner of Upper Hollingdean Road. Thanks

By John Soar (21/09/2013)

Sylvan Hall was once the home of the colourful Kate Evelyn Meyrick (née Nason) (1875-1933).  She moved to the property in 1914 with her husband, Dr Ferdinand Richard Holmes Meyrick (d. 1941), and their eight children. Described by them as ‘a lovely old-world house’, they stayed there until 1918. Here the doctor, whose surgery was at 34 Wakefield Road, ran the establishment as a home for the mentally ill. These included badly shell-shocked soldiers. Kate, herself the daughter of a doctor, assisted him and, following lessons in hypnotism and suggestive therapeutics, was able to do useful work with chronic nerve cases. The couple, whose daughters attended Roedean School, frequently gave entertainments in the grounds, sometimes for the soldiers themselves and sometimes to raise funds for them.

In 1918, she left her husband for good on the grounds of his cruelty (there had been a year’s separation prior to the move to Brighton). Kate’s overriding motivation in all her subsequent dealings was to provide for her children rather than create wealth for herself (they did well - three of her daughters married into the aristocracy).

By the following year had opened her first London business venture, Dalton’s Club in Leicester Square, which would often be targeted by the police on account of its reputation as a pick-up point for prostitutes.

‘Ma Meyrick’, as she became known, appeared in a lightly disguised form in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. She went on to open many more establishments, most famously the 43 Club in Gerrard Street, which was noted for attracting a mix of bohemians, writers, aristocrats and gangsters - particularly members of the Sabini gang and their racetrack rivals. The clubs were frequently raided, since DORA (the Defence of the Realm Act, which prohibited the sale of alcohol after 10 pm) was still in force. Fines were followed by periods of imprisonment on other charges. In January 1929, she achieved notoriety when she was tried at the Old Bailey as a co-defendant in the ‘Goddard Case’, one of the most important police corruption trials of the century. Convicted of bribing the police, she was sentenced to 15 months’ hard labour in Holloway jail.

She was by no means universally popular – The People newspaper had described her as ‘one of the most dangerous women in London’ – but was nevertheless prepared to give the city what it wanted - dancing, gaiety and the best of good times. For thousands of London night club habitués, the Meyrick name became synonymous with frivolous fun-making even after she fell foul of the law and became a regular inmate in Holloway jail. However, the five jail sentences which the ‘Queen of the London Clubs’ served at various times and which totalled three years three months took their toll on her health, even though she always returned to her night club career. She died of broncho-pneumonia in January 1933 at the early age of 57.

Kate Meyrick saw, by her own estimate, the phenomenal sum of £500,000 pass through her hands in the course of her nightclub career. Her estate on her death amounted to a mere £58. Her autobiography Secrets of the 43 Club is worth a read if you can get it.

By Douglas d'Enno (25/01/2014)

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