Old Steine Gardens

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Old Steine Gardens
Old Steine, Brighton - geograph.org.uk - 633362.jpg
Old Steine Gardens with Royal Pavilion in background
Old Steine Gardens in East Sussex
LocationBrighton, East Sussex, England
Coordinates50°49′15″N 0°08′14″W / 50.82078°N 0.13731°W / 50.82078; -0.13731Coordinates: 50°49′15″N 0°08′14″W / 50.82078°N 0.13731°W / 50.82078; -0.13731
Area1.44 acre
DesignerSir John Cordy Burrows

The Old Steine Gardens in Brighton, Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, England, adjacent to the Old Steine thoroughfare, are the site of several monuments of national historic significance.


The Old Steine was originally an open green space with a stream in the fishing village of Brighthelmstone.[1] Local fishermen stored their boats and allowed their nets to dry there. With the passage of time, however, the fishing community was excluded. The area was drained and enclosed, and visitors to the area used the Steine to promenade. The Old Steine transformed from an area of occupation to one devoted to recreation, in the seaside resort of Brighton.[2]

By the eighteenth century, buildings started to appear on the Old Steine. The first building to appear on the eastern side of the Steine was a circulating library built in 1760.[1] The eastern lawns of the Royal Pavilion, originally built as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, were at one time considered part of the Old Steine.[1]

The Old Steine thoroughfare, a one-way road system since 1926, encircles a 1.44 acre parcel of land that is triangular in shape, the Old Steine Gardens.[2][3] North Street bisects Old Steine Gardens.[4] The southern section, the southern enclosure, is roughly square in shape, and contains the Victoria Fountain and the Statue of Sir John Cordy Burrows.

Following the installation of the Victoria Fountain in 1846, the surrounding parcel of land was planted with gardens.[5] On 21 July 1880, an oak tree was planted by mayor Henry Davey in the southwestern corner of the southern enclosure to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the founding of Brighton's Sunday schools. One hundred years later, on 13 December 1980, another oak tree was planted by mayor John Leach in the southeastern corner of the southern enclosure to celebrate the bicentennial of the Sunday schools. However, that tree was one of the many casualties of a severe storm in October 1987.[3]

The northern section of the Old Steine Gardens, the northern enclosure, is triangular in configuration, and contains the Brighton War Memorial and the Egyptian Campaign Memorial. As part of the 100th anniversary of World War I, the Old Steine Garden was dedicated as a Fields in Trust Centenary Field because of its local heritage and significance.[6]

Victoria Fountain[edit]

Victoria Fountain

The Victoria Fountain is located in the centre of the southern enclosure of the Old Steine Gardens.[7] The fountain is thirty-two feet in height and includes a large, cast-iron pool with a rim decorated with egg-and-dart mouldings. Originally, the pool was filled with water lilies and goldfish. Sarsen stones in the centre of the pool were first found in the Steine by workers digging a trench in 1823.[7] The sandstone blocks support three intertwined dolphins, upon which rests a shallow, cast-iron basin. Above this are two columns with an additional basin.

The fountain owes its existence to the efforts of John Cordy Burrows.[8] After the commissioners of the town of Brighton decided against erecting a fountain to commemorate Queen Victoria's accession to the throne in 1837, Burrows placed a private commission with British architect Amon Henry Wilds. The project was financed by Burrows and a public subscription, as well as the proceeds of a bazaar, concert, and night at the theatre.[5]

The dolphins were sculpted by William Pepper (1806–1887), who was from a Brighton family of wood carvers and sculptors.[9] The castings were made by the Eagle Foundry on Gloucester Road in Brighton.[10] The foundry was owned by partners John Yearsley and Robert Williams. Their firm also installed the fountain.[11][12]

The Victoria Fountain was inaugurated on 25 May 1846 in celebration of the twenty-seventh birthday of Queen Victoria. The ceremony featured a royal salute fired from the pier head at noon, coordinated with the starting of the fountain.[2] Music had been commissioned for the event, including "Fountain Quadrilles" by Charles Coote, the son-in-law of Burrows. Local businesses closed at 3 o'clock that afternoon. The day's festivities concluded with fireworks.[5]

The fountain soon became a local landmark, with prints available for purchase at local bookstores. It was protected as a Grade II listed structure on 13 October 1952.[13] A Grade II structure is felt to be nationally important and of special interest.[14]

Restoration of the fountain commenced in 1990, and was completed before the 1995 visit of the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles unveiled a plaque commemorating the restoration of the fountain.[5] The plaque adjacent to the south side of the fountain reads: "To Commemorate The Visit Of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales President Of The Fountain Society On 25th May 1995 To Mark The Restoration Of The Victoria Fountain With Funding By Brighton Council And Grant Aid From English Heritage."[15]

Panoramic view of Victoria Fountain and Gardens

Statue of Sir John Cordy Burrows[edit]

Statue of Sir John Cordy Burrows

John Cordy Burrows, eldest son of Robert Burrows and his wife Elizabeth Cordy, was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, England on 5 August 1813.[16] He was apprenticed at an early age to a surgeon, after which he studied in London at Guy's Hospital and St. Thomas' Hospital. Burrows qualified at the Society of Apothecaries in 1835. In 1836, he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons.[16]

The following year, he went to Brighton, where he acted as assistant to a surgeon. Two years later, Burrows began his own practice. He found time to become active in community affairs. Burrows and another physician co-founded the Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. The surgeon was also instrumental in establishing the Brighton Mechanics' Institution, for which he was secretary from 1841 to 1857, and later, treasurer.[16] In addition to his activities mentioned above with regard to the Victoria Fountain, he designed and planted the surrounding gardens at his own expense. The Health of Towns Act was adopted in Brighton, addressing his concerns about local sanitary conditions. In 1849, as a member of the town committee, he assisted in the purchase of the Royal Pavilion.

The surgeon was elected mayor in 1857, and again in 1858 and 1871; he was the first to be elected to that position both twice and three times.[3] He chose the town motto "In Deo Fidemus" and was nicknamed "King Cordy." Brighton residents presented him with a carriage, pair of horses, and other gifts in 1871.[16] Burrows was knighted by the queen in 1873. He was one of two promoters of the Extra Mural Cemetery.

Sir John Cordy Burrows died at 62 Old Steine in Brighton on 25 March 1876.[17] Businesses closed for the funeral procession of 2,500 people, witnessed by an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 mourners.[3] Burrows was interred at the Extra Mural Cemetery on 1 April 1876.[16]

The Statue of Sir John Cordy Burrows was initially located at the southern end of the grounds of the Royal Pavilion, in front of Carlisle House, where it was unveiled on 14 Feb 1878.[8] The statue is of white Sicilian marble and the plinth of grey granite. The inscription on the pedestal reads: "Sir John Cordy Burrows Knt. Three Times Mayor Of Brighton" and "Erected By His Fellow Townsmen As A Mark Of Their Esteem 1878."[8] Burrows is depicted in his mayoral robes; at the base of the statue, the signature "E.B. Stephens 1878" appears.[8] The monument was commissioned by the memorial committee and designed by Exeter sculptor Edward Bowring Stephens (1815–1882).[18][19] The unveiling of the statue was accompanied by music that had been composed for the occasion, and sung by members of the Brighton Sacred Harmonic Society, the same group who had sung over his grave. Following the midday inauguration of the monument, there was an evening mayoral reception at the Brighton Dome.[8] The statue was moved to its present location at the southern end of the southern enclosure of the Old Steine Gardens in 1984, when the Royal Pavilion grounds were remodelled. The Statue of Sir John Cordy Burrows was protected as a Grade II listed structure on 26 August 1999.[20][21]

Brighton War Memorial[edit]

Brighton War Memorial

The Brighton War Memorial is located at the southern end of the northern enclosure of the Old Steine Gardens.[7] The site was originally that of the statue of George IV. However, that monument was transferred to the North Gate of the Royal Pavilion.

The memorial includes a large, shallow pool with a central fountain. At the north end of the pool is a colonnade of stone columns in a 'U'-shape, the second element of the monument. At the centre of the colonnade is a temple formed by a rectangular panel of stone, which fills the space between two of the columns, and a roof with a stone dome.[22] The panel carries the inscription: "High Seas/ North Seas/ Home Seas/ Arctic Baltic/ Mediterranean/ France And/ Flanders/ Palestine/ Mesopotamia/ Russia/ Italy/ Macedonia/ Dardanelles."[23] Above the inscription is the coat of arms of Brighton. Inside the temple is a stone altar table.

A bronze plaque by the altar reads: "This Memorial Is Dedicated To The Service Men And Women Of Brighton Who Gave Their Lives In The First World War 1914–1918 The Second World War 1939–1945 And Subsequent Campaigns" and "Their Names Are Recorded In The Book Of Remembrance In The Parish Church of St Peter."[22] Also by the altar are raised letters: "We Cheered You Forth Noble And Kind And Brave Under Your Countrys Triumphing Flag You Fell It Floats True Hearts Over Each Quiet Grave Brave And Noble And Kind Hail And Farewell."[22] The south face of the monument, above the columns, bears the inscription: "A Good Life Hath Its Number Of Days But A Good Name Shall Continue For Ever."[22]

The third element of the monument consists of two bronze pylons at the northwest and northeast corners of the colonnade.[23] The names of 2,597 men and 3 women who died in World War I are recorded on the two bronze pillars.[7] The surname and initials of each person are listed.

The Brighton War Memorial was designed by architect Sir John William Simpson (1858–1933). Simpson, the son of Brighton architect Thomas Simpson, served as president of the Royal Institute of British Architects from 1919 to 1921.[24]

The design of the war memorial is based on that of a Roman water garden. A description of the planned memorial appeared in the Brighton Herald of 15 October 1921. (Decades later, the August/September 2004 edition of the City News of Brighton indicated that the water represented the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy, and the memorial gardens represented the British Army and Royal Air Force.)[22]

The monument was unveiled by Admiral David Richard Beatty on 7 October 1922. Admiral Beatty, the 1st Earl Beatty, became Commander in Chief of the Grand Fleet during World War I.[25]

The Brighton War Memorial was added to the National Heritage List for England on 26 August 1999, as a Grade II structure.[26][27]

Pruett Mullens Dennett, World War I British flying ace credited with ten aerial victories, is one of those commemorated on the monument.[28]

In 2018, Vandals defaced Old Steine War Memorial and the word Palestine appears to have been chipped away or eroded.[27] The panel bears the names of nations in which British servicemen and women have died. A council spokesman said: “It appears that the word on the stone panel was targeted but as this is etched into the stone we are unable to repair the damage". Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett has called for people to turn in the “disgusting animals” responsible for the damage. [29]

Egyptian Campaign Memorial[edit]

Egyptian Campaign Memorial

The Egyptian Campaign Memorial of the Royal Sussex Regiment is located at the far northern tip of the northern enclosure of the Old Steine Gardens.[7] The granite obelisk is set on a circular brick base and has three sections. The top section is of polished granite, and the middle section has granite plaques on each side. The plaques on the south, east, and west sides of the monument list the names of the deceased.[30] The plaque on the north side of the obelisk has an inscription which dedicates the monument. It reads: "Erected By The Officers, N.C. Officers And Men 1st Bn "Royal Sussex" Regt. To The Memory Of Their Comrades Who Were Killed In Action Or Who Died Of Wounds Or Of Disease Contracted During The Egyptian Campaign 1882 And Nile River Expedition 1884–85."[31] On the north face of the lower section, the base of the obelisk, the word "Egypt" is in raised letters. On the south face of the base, the word "Abu-klea" is in raised letters.[30]

The Egyptian Campaign Memorial commemorates not only those involved in the Egyptian Campaign of 1882, but also the Nile Expedition of 1884 to 1885. In early 1884, British Major General Charles George Gordon (1833–1885) was sent by the British government to Khartoum, Sudan to evacuate the British and Egyptian forces, civilian employees, and families who were being threatened by Muslim Sudanese rebels.[32][33] He arrived in February 1884. However, rebel activity increased, and other British forces were eventually withdrawn from Sudan by May 1884. General Gordon organised the defence of Khartoum, and the British public began to demand a relief expedition. However, the British government didn't decide to assist Gordon until August 1884. Some believe that the delay was due to the prime minister's anger at Gordon for apparently disobeying his orders, and not completing the evacuation.[34] In late August, a request was relayed to the governor-general of Canada that a detachment of Canadian voyageurs be organised and sent to Africa to participate in the mission.[35] It wasn't until almost November that the Nile Expedition, the British and Canadian relief force, was ready. The expedition was attacked by Sudanese rebels at Abu-Klea; the Battle of Abu-klea was fought on 17 January 1885.[7][36] When the expedition arrived in Khartoum on 28 January 1885, the city had already fallen two days previously and General Gordon had been killed.[37]

The monument was erected by the officers and men of the First Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1888. The Egyptian Campaign Memorial was protected as a Grade II listed structure on 20 August 1971.[38][39]


  1. ^ a b c My Brighton and Hove – Old Steine
  2. ^ a b c Architecture and Field/Work
  3. ^ a b c d My Brighton and Hove – Old Steine – Sir John Cordy Burrows Statue – extracted from the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder, 1990
  4. ^ Google Maps – Old Steine
  5. ^ a b c d "Public Sculptures of Sussex – Victoria Fountain". Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  6. ^ "The Old Steine, Brighton". Fields in Trust. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f My Brighton and Hove – Old Steine – The Victoria Fountain and the War Memorial – extracted from the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder, 1990
  8. ^ a b c d e "Public Sculptures of Sussex – Statue of Sir John Cordy Burrows". Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  9. ^ Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain & Ireland 1851–1951 – William Pepper
  10. ^ #Brighton Bits
  11. ^ Historic England. "Victoria Fountain (1380682)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  12. ^ Clifton Montpelier Powis Community Alliance – John Yearsley
  13. ^ Historic England. "Victoria Fountain (1380682)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  14. ^ English Heritage – Listed Buildings Archived 24 January 2013 at WebCite
  15. ^ My Brighton and Hove – Old Steine – The Victoria Fountain and the War Memorial – extracted from the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder, 1990 – photograph – Victoria Fountain
  16. ^ a b c d e Dictionary of National Biography, Volumes 1–20, 22. London, England: Oxford University Press, 1921–1922
  17. ^ England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861–1941
  18. ^ The Second Website of Bob Speel – Edward Bowring Stephens
  19. ^ Exeter memories – E B Stephens-sculptor
  20. ^ Historic England. "Statue of Sir John Cordy Burrows (1380679)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
  21. ^ Historic England. "Statue of Sir John Cordy Burrows (1380679)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  22. ^ a b c d e "Public Sculptures of Sussex – War Memorial". Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  23. ^ a b Historic England. "Brighton War Memorial (1380675)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  24. ^ scottisharchitects.org – Sir John William Simpson
  25. ^ dreadnought project.org – David Richard Beatty
  26. ^ Historic England. "Brighton War Memorial (1380675)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
  27. ^ a b Doherty-Cove, Jody (23 August 2018). "Vandals deface Old Steine war memorial by attempting to remove Palestine". The Argus. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  28. ^ "Sussex – Brighton War Memorial". Roll of Honour. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  29. ^ Doherty-Cove, Jody (24 August 2018). "Search for 'disgusting animals' who vandalised war memorial". The Argus. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  30. ^ a b "Public Sculptures of Sussex – Egyptian Campaign Memorial". Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
  31. ^ My Brighton and Hove – Old Steine – The Victorian Fountain and the War Memorial – extracted from the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder, 1990 – photograph – Egyptian Campaign Memorial
  32. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica – Charles George Gordon
  33. ^ Westminster Abbey – Charles George Gordon
  34. ^ The Victorian Web – Charles George Gordon
  35. ^ The Quebec History Encyclopedia – Nile Expedition
  36. ^ BritishBattles.com – The Battle of Abu Klea
  37. ^ BBC History – General Charles Gordon
  38. ^ Historic England. "Egyptian Campaign Memorial (1380676)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
  39. ^ Historic England. "Egyptian Campaign Memorial (1380676)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 March 2012.

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