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Brighton Blockhouse

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Middle Street

In the civil parish of Brighton.
In the historic county of Sussex.
Modern Authority of Brighton and Hove; City of.
1974 county of East Sussex.
Medieval County of Sussex (Rape of Lewes).

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ30900392
Latitude 50.82004° Longitude -0.14304°

Brighton Blockhouse has been described as a certain Artillery Fort.

There are no visible remains.


The town's chief defence, the Block-house, was not built till 1559, when the lords of the manor granted to the inhabitants of the town a piece of land, measuring 30 ft. 16 ft., on which to build a storehouse for arms. (Add. MS. 5683, fol. 57) Its site was on the cliff near the southern end of Middle Street. At the same time fortifications were erected, which in 1730 consisted of 'four strong gates (From east to west, they were known as the East, Portal, Middle, and West gates) of free stone and arches, three of them very copious, being 12 or 13 ft. high, but the most notable of them was the East Gate to which (is) joyn'd a Wall 14 or 16 Foot high, extending about 400 foot to Westward. There is also another Wall 3 foot thick facing the Sea, and in it are many Port holes for Cannon. About 250 feet to the West end of the wall stands the Town hall (on the East of which is the Market House); it is a very strong Aedifice in the form of a circumference, built in stone, and 7 or 8 feet thick and about 18 foot high, and 50 in Diameter. The Hall is about 30 foot broad and under it is a Dungeon. It faces the Sea, and in its Walls are several arched rooms, where the Magazines are kept. Before it near the Sea is the Gun-Garden, capacious enough for 4 Cannon. This Hall stands in the Middle Front of the Town, and upon the Roof is a Turret, in which stands the Town Clock.' ( Magna Britannia, v, 510).
In 1580 the Town-house stood on the eastern side of the Block-house and their proximity perhaps accounts for the confusion in the names of the two buildings in the account of 1730. At the earlier date the armament consisted of four great cannon, sent from the Tower of London, besides two belonging to the inhabitants and ten callivers, with the necessary ammunition. (Add. MS. 5700, fol. 73 d.) After the under-cliff had been washed away, the sea undermined the foundations of the Block-house, part of which fell down in 1748. (Grose, iii.) Its ruins are shown in an engraving published in 1773, standing at the extreme edge of the cliff. The town wall had completely disappeared, and as early as 1726 it had been necessary to guard the edge of the cliff with a paling. (J. G. Bishop, op. cit. 7). (VCH 1940)

The rest of the blockhouse had probably been lost to coastal erosion by the early C19 and the associated town wall, running along the cliff top, appears to have been lost by the time S. Cooper drew the remains of the blockhouse.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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