Pre Historic Brighton and Hove
Pre-history is divided into periods, The Stone Age, The Bronze Age, and The Iron Age. Pre-history means before written history, so what we know about our ancestors is through the objects they left behind.
The Stone Age
It has been generally believed that some of our Neolithic predecessors were dark in complexion, as well as short. The Neolithic people lived on high grounds on Whitehawk Hill near the Brighton Race Course. These people belong to a race of dark complexion, small boned people, a tribe living in Brighton Sussex.
The Bronze Age.
Knowledge of the bronze period is derived form the graves contents and bronze implements that are discovered, and the lack of flint implements found.
The Iron Age.
With the popularisation of the use of iron from the Middle East, about 500 B.C. by another wave of immigrants form the Continent, bringing with them pottery and other goods.
The Romans in 43 A.D.
The Emperor Claudius of Rome sent an army to invade Britain. Roman Britain had begun.
1086 Doomsday Book
Brighton was known as 'Bristelmestune' as recorded in the Doomsday book, the first census? in England.
During the later part of the Roman rule in Sussex, frequent raids were carried out by the Saxons, who eventually overthrow the Romans , thus large numbers of new settlers inhabiting Sussex.
1514 Brighton Brunt to the Ground.
During the reign of Henry VIII. The French landed at the Coast off Brighton and burnt the entire Town to the ground. The only building to survived the attack, was the Church on the Hill, Saint Nicholas's Church. Leaving only the Street patterns as outline of the Town. A drawing recording the attack by the French fleet on Brighton is preserved in the Hove Museum. Another raid at Portsmouth in 1545, in which the great English ship the Mary Rose capsized and sank.
1559 Brighton became a Garrison Town.
The lord of the manor made over to the inhabitants of Brighton a piece of land on the shore for the building of a Block House or Small Fort. It was erected at the Southern End of Middle Street, eventually destroy by two great storms of 1703 and 1705, which finally washed away beneath the cliff and were completely destroyed. Later in 1779, still fear of further attack, new defense were erected, a battery of eight guns at the bottom of East Street, two on the East Cliff, and thirty six on the other side of East Cliff .
1580 Brighton Largest Fishing Fleet in the South Coast of England.
Brighton's fishing fleet grew very rapidly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558 and 1603).
By 1580, Brighton fleet consisted of 80 boats, 400 fishermen and 10,000 fishing nets, by 1665 much of the lower town of Brighton was destroyed by the sea, ending the fishing trade.
1616 - Blakers of Portslade Coat of Arms
The Arms of the Blakers of Portslade, granted in 1616, depicts the side-facing heads of three Blackamoors - Negroes with African Hair.
The family are mentioned in connection with Old Shoreham, Kingston, Lewes, Patcham, Pangdean, and Brighton itself. Blaker Recreation Ground in Brighton was a gift from Sir John Blaker, a descendant, who was mayor of Brighton from 1895 to 1898 and chief military representative of Brighton during the First World War.
1651 - Prince Charles's Black Helper
In 1651 when Charles's invasion ended in defeat, the young Charles II stayed overnight in Brighton, at the Kings Head public house in West Street. According to the Sussex Archaeology Society, the day after Charles escaped to France a party of soldiers arrived in Brighton searching for 'a tall Black man six feet and two inches high, for aiding the King',
The Slave Trade and the Growth of the British Black Population
During the 18th century the slave trade dominated the British economy. It supplied fashionable society with sugar, chocolate, coffee and tea to consume, American cotton cloth to wear and tobacco to smoke.
In the middle of the 18th century there was an influx of Black people as naval captains, colonial governors, plantation-owners and merchants came back to live in Brighton & Hove, choosing to bring with them their house-slaves and servants, rather than employing English servants. Young slaves were in demand as household servants. They were popular with officers from the slave ships and with West Indian planters who wish to continue the privileged way of life that they had enjoyed in the colonies. Little Black pageboys in fancy clothes, were fashionable status symbol for many families.
The right to buy and sell human beings went largely unchallenged in Britain, until the late 18th century. Between 18 and 22 million African were transported in this way. As many as one million died in transit.
1778 - The Nine Year Old African Prodigy
The talented 9 year old African violin prodigy George Polgreen Bridgetower was born in 1778, and died in London on February 29 1860. His father was an African prince who married a white European woman, named in English documents as Mary Ann Bridgetower. They had two sons who both became fine musicians - George's younger brother Fredrick was a cellist.
George played in the Prince's band at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton for 14 years. He is best remembered today for his association with Ludwig van Beethoven, who met the 23 year old Bridgetower and the two got along famously. The composer praised him as "a very capable virtuoso who has a complete command of his instrument". Beethoven wrote a new piece - the Kreutzer Sonata - for the Afro-European violinist. Beethoven's autographed copy of the Sonata for violin and piano bears the inscription 'Sonata mulattica composta per il mullato'.
Young George appeared at a concert in Bath in the presence of King George III and 550 guests. The Bath Morning Post of December 8, 1789 gave this report:
"The young African Prince, whose musical talents have been so much celebrated, had a more crowded and splendid concert on Sunday morning than has ever been known in this place. There were upwards of 550 persons present, and they were gratified by such skills on the violin as created general astonishment, as well as pleasure from the boy wonder. The father was in the gallery, and so affected by the applause bestowed on his son, that tears of pleasure and gratitude flowed in profusion".
The Bath Chronicle of December 3, 1789 reported: "The amateurs of music in this city received on Saturday last at the New Rooms the highest treat imaginable from the exquisite performance of Master Bridgetower, whose taste and execution on the violin is equal, perhaps superior, to the best professor of the present or any former day. Those who had that happiness were enraptured with the astonishing abilities of this wonderful child - for he is but ten years old. He is a mulatto, the grandson, it is said, of in African Prince".
A letter from Beethoven to Bridgetower and a miniature of Bridgetower fetched $3,600 at Christie's, London 1973.
Black Soldiers Based in Brighton
A print in the Brighton Museum shows an exotically dressed Black drummer with his band outside the royal pavilion.
There were a number of Black soldiers with the 10th Hussars (the Regent's favourite regiment) who were stationed in Lewes Road, Brighton during the Regency period. One of whom - William Afflick of St. Kitts - had his son Charles baptised in St. Nicholas CoE Church in Brighton in 1811.
Asian Population in Brighton
Asian immigrants were beginning to be noted in London in the 1780s. Lascar seamen were being press-ganged onto ship crews in India and then abandoned in London. The law obliged the East India Company to take responsibility for them, and they maintained a hostel in Ratcliff Highway for about a thousand Lascar seamen, who were kept on the verge of starvation and suffered a high mortality rate from malnutrition and disease.
St Nicholas Church baptism registers records on December 28th 1826 the baptism of a Jon Khristian, parents unknown, born in India, and on 17th November 1817, Horatio, son of Dean and Jane Mahomed, battery House, East Street, Brighton.
1808 - West Indian Builds Houses on Royal Crescent Site in Brighton
The land on which the houses of the Royal Crescent now stand was sold for building purposes in 1789 to a West Indian named J. B. Otto.
Otto began by erecting three houses at each end of the Crescent. Having completed the six houses, Otto return home to Barbados. Then, in January 1807, the Brighton Herald recorded that Otto returned to Brighton and completed the construction of the remaining houses in the Crescent.
1814 - Doctor Brighton
Sake Dean Mahomed (1759-1851) grew up in India. He served in the English East India Company Bengal Army as a trainee surgeon. At age 25 he immigrated to Ireland in 1786, where he wrote and published his book, entitled 'The Travels of Dean Mahomet'. He became the first Indian to write a book in English.
Sake Dean Mahomed moved to London, where he opened the first Indian take away restaurant in England - the Hindustani Coffee House. Then, in 1814 Dean and Jane, his Irish wife, moved to Brighton and opened the first shampooing vapour masseur bath in England. He described the treatment in a local paper as 'The Indian Medicated Vapour Bath (type of Turkish bath), a cure to many diseases and giving full relief when every thing fails; particularly Rheumatic and paralytic, gout, stiff joints, old sprains, lame less, aches and pains in the joints'.
So successful was his treatment that Hospitals refered patients to Sake Dean Mahomed. Both King George IV and William IV appointed him as their shampooing surgeon in Brighton.
Mahomed’s Bath stood on the site now occupied by the Queen's Hotel, Brighton.
1826 - Woman for Sale
In May 1826 a woman was put up for auction at Brighton market, with a halter around her neck. She was brought by a man for a sovereign and four half crowns. Her husband kept her elder child, but threw in a younger child as a make-weight.
The sale was duly entered in the Brighton market register, and the purchaser paid a shilling to the auctioneer for his trouble, and another shilling for the halter. The Brighton Herald reported that the woman seemed perfectly happy to be sold and went off with her new master with the child in her arm.
1836 - Black Footman in Brighton New Church
A portrait inscribed 'Black Fooman in Brighton New Church' - the church now known as St, Peters - was sketched in the sketchbook of John Orlando Parry on his visit to Brighton in 1836.
1849 - Frederick Akbar Mahomed
Frederick Ackbar Mahomed (grandson of Sake Dean Mahomed) was born in Brighton on 11th April 1849 at No.2 Black Lion Street, East Cliff, Brighton. He went to private school in Brighton.
At age 18 Akbar went to study medicine at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, which admitted students up until 1880 (minutes of board management Lewes Record Office).
In October 1869, the young Akbar, aged 20, left the Royal Sussex County Hospital and entered Guys Hospital in London. In 1870 and 1871, Akbar won universal praise for his work at Guys. Two years running he won the Physical Society Prize for developing the sphygmograph (for measuring the pressure of the pulse).
His first, unpublished paper was presented to the Pupils Physical Society at Guys Hospital, detailing his findings from 1872 to 1873, describing his modification and use of the sphygmograph. (His manuscript remains at Guys Hospital).
Akbar qualified as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1872, and in 1874 gained membership to the Royal College of Physicians.
On the 28th November 1884, Frederick died, aged 35. He is buried at Highgate Cemetery, London.
1857 - Mary Seacole - the Black Nurse
Mary Seacole the Black nurse visited Brighton and mentions it in her book, saying that the Journey across Panama by train was as smooth as the journey from London to Brighton. Her best selling autobiography, entitled 'Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands', was first published in 1857.
Mary Seacole was born Mary Jane Grant in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805. She was a businesswoman, traveller, gold prospector, writer and nurse. Her father was a Scottish army officer, and her mother a descendant of African Slaves.
It was her nursing skills that Mary used to good effect in the Crimean war (1855-1856) tending to the wounded servicemen there.
One soldier wrote in his memoirs: "She was a wonderful woman, all the men swore by her, and in case of any malady, would seek her advice and use her herbal medicines in preference to reporting themselves to their own doctors. That she did affect some cure is beyond doubt, and her never failing presence amongst the wounded after a battle and assisting them".
At the end of the war, she came back to London and became a 'media star', due to her widely acclaimed work, which had been fully reported in the London newspapers.
Her autobiography became a best seller and went into its second printing within 12 months.
1862 - Sarah Forbes Bonetta - The African Princess in Brighton
Miss Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a West African of royal blood, was orphaned in a brutal massacre in her home country at the age of eight.
She was captured and later given to Queen Victoria who, impressed by the girl's natural regal manner and exceptional intelligence, was pleased to give her sanction to be married in St, Nicholas Church in Brighton in August 1862.
The wedding party, which arrived from West Hill Lodge, Brighton in ten carriages and pairs of grays, was made up of White ladies with African gentlemen, and African ladies with White gentlemen. There were sixteen bridesmaids.
In his journal, Captain Frederick Forbes gave an account of his mission with relation to Miss Bonetta:
"I have only to add a few particulars about my extraordinary present 'the African Child' - one of the captives of this dreadful slave-hunt was this interesting girl"
"It is usual to reserve the best born for the high behest of royalty and the immolation on the tombs of the diseased nobility. For one of these ends she has been detained at court for two years, proving, by her not having been sold to slave dealers, that she was of good family".
"She is a perfect genius; she now speaks English well, and has a great talent for music. She has won the affections, but with few exceptions, of all who have known her. She is far in advance of any white child of her age, in aptness of learning, and strength of mind and affection". (Source: Brighton Gazette August 1826)
Sarah had a daughter named Victoria Davis, who was presented to Queen Victoria. Upon the death of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, the Queen wrote in her diary: "Saw poor Victoria Davis, my black godchild, who learnt this morning of the death of her dear mother".
So proud was Queen Victoria of Sarah's daughter, that when she passed her music examination, teachers and children had one day holiday.
1914-1918 - Wounded Indian Troops at the Brighton Pavilion
Very early on in World War I it was apparent that the allies did not have enough forces to cover all the areas of fighting - for example in North Africa, Europe and the Middle East. So it was decided to employ troops from the Indian Army. One of the reasons for this was that the Indian Army could be mobilised immediately. It would be the first time that the Indian Army would be deployed to fight outside of India.
On the 8th August 1914 the first Indian troops to fight in World War I left India headed for Egypt to be held in reserve. However the fighting on the Western front was so desperate that they were needed on the front line instead of being kept in Egypt as reservists. So the troops were redirected to the fighting on the Western front in Europe. Still dressed in the khaki uniform suitable for Egyptian not European weather, the troops arrived in France on 26th September 1914 ready to battle.
Soldiers wounded in battle on the Western front needed to be hospitalised somewhere. Originally it was hoped that the wounded Indian soldiers could be hospitalised in France, but the number of casualties was so great that this was not possible, and alternative arrangements had to be made to accommodate the wounded soldiers.
The next best option was the South Coast of England, and Brighton was one of the main towns that offered its service to the war office. There were also other offers of accommodation in the South East: Brockenhurst, New Milton, Southampton and Bournemouth, to name a few.
On the 21st November 1914 Colonel Sir Walter Lawrence visited Brighton and met with the Mayor at the time Alderman Sir John Otter. The meeting was to inform the Mayor that King George V had requested the use of the Royal Pavilion as a militarily hospital for wounded Indian soldiers. This was immediately agreed.
After a consultation with the Chairman of the Pavilion Committee (Councillor Bartlett) and the Town Clerk (Mr. Hugo Talbot, O.B.E.), the following telegram was sent to the Secretary of State for War (Lord Kitchener):
"Understanding that the Royal Pavilion at Brighton is specially suited for hospital treatment of Indian troops, the Corporation beg to place it at His Majesty's disposal for that purpose".
The Royal Pavilion estate had to be able to accomodate the three main Indian religions: Hindu, Muslim and Sikh, in order for soldiers to be able to worship. The Sikh temple was a marquee erected in the Pavilion grounds. The Muslims were able to use the lawn in front of the Dome, as this was facing East. Nine kitchens were erected in the grounds to cater for the various religions.
The Royal Pavilion was not the only building in Brighton to be transformed into a militarily hospital for wounded Indian soldiers, the Brighton General hospital Elm Grove at the top of a hill near the Brighton racetrack was renamed the Kitchener General Indian hospital, the York Place school, were all converted and especially adopted for the wounded Indian soldiers.
1915 - West Indian Men in Sussex
Men from the West Indies arrived in Sussex preparing to defend and die for our freedom and liberty, fighting side by side with British soldiers.
Between October 1915 and March 1916, Seaford in Sussex was used as a training camp for men from the West Indies, in preparation for fighting in Europe.
On October 4, 1915 750 men arrived from the West Indies, mainly from Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Guyana and British Honduras. Two weeks later 755 men with the 22nd battalion from Jamaica arrived in Seaford.
In total 16,000 soldiers were raised from the West Indies, plus two battalions of regular West Indian regiment, numbering some 4,500 volunteers, who arrived in special contingents from the West Indies.
Nineteen West Indians died at the camp in Seaford between October 20, 1915 and January 30, 1916.
In November 1994, for the first and only time, a special memorial service was held at the Alfriston Road Cemetery in Seaford, which was attended by World War II veterans from the West Indies Ex-Service Men and Women Association from London.
Information on the British West India Regiment in Seaford appears in the Sussex County Magazine Vol. 14: pages 201-206, but pages 203-203 were removed from all eight copies in the East Sussex libraries, as well as one Worthing library.
1921 - Indian Memorials in Brighton
Today two Memorials exist in Brighton to commemorate the Indian soldiers that passed through the Brighton hospitals during the First World War. The First is the gateway to the Pavilion grounds from the South. The second is the Chattri which is located on the South Downs near Patcham.
The Pavilion gateway was a gift from the Princes and people of India to the inhabitants of Brighton & Hove. It was erected as a permanent memorial to the use of the various Brighton buildings for the Indian wounded. On Wednesday 26 October, 1921 his Highness the Maharaja of Patiala accepted an invitation to perform the ceremony of unveiling and dedicating the new gateway and presenting it to the Corporation of Brighton for the use of its inhabitants.
The memorial now known as the Chattri was erected after the war, and unveiled by the Prince of Wales. The memorial was built on the exact spot where the bodies of Indian solders had been cremated. The Chattri bears the following inscription, in Urdu, Hindi and English:
“To the memory of all Indian soldiers who gave their lives for their King-Emperor in the Great War, this monument, erected on the site of the funeral pyre where the Hindus and Sikhs who died in hospital at Brighton passed through the fire, is in grateful admiration and brotherly affection dedicated”.
Today the Chattri can be seen from many parts of the town - a white memorial within an area of green, marked off by a square of trees. Since June 2000 a commemorative service in honour of the Sikh and Hindu soldiers who died in Brighton during the First World War has been held at the Chattri every year on the fourth Sunday of the month.
1993 - Ali Ibrahim, Sudanese man aged 21 murdered in Brighton
In November 1993, whilst walking home along Western Road at night, Sudanese refugee Ali Ibrahim was confronted by a drunk man in his twenties, his girlfriend and their small black dog. The drunk made a racist remark, then suddenly lashed out at the trio. They fled down Little Preston Street. He ran after them and stabbed Ibrahim with a knife before running away. Ali Ibrahim died shortly afterwards in hospital.
1999 - Jay Abatan, murdered in Brighton
In January 1999, Jay Abatan, a 42 year old old black accountant and father of 2, died after being attacked after leaving the Ocean Rooms nightclub with his brother after an argument over a mini cab. The pair were kicked and punched and Jay suffered severe brain injuries and was in a coma for five days before doctors decided there was no hope for him. Two men were charged with manslaughter but the charges later dropped.
2001 - Youth Group Awarded Philip Lawrence Award
In December 2002, Brighton based youth group SAHARA, is awarded a Philip Lawrence Award for outstanding citizenship. The award was given for their video project, which enabled young people to express their experiences of racism through the making of a video called 'Nothing Serious'.
2002 - Black Community Worker Faith Matyszak Awarded MBE
Congratulations to Faith, who was awarded her MBE for her work in the community. Faith received her medal from Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
The seventy year old mother and grandmother has has put in thousands of hours working voluntarily for the community. Faith has lived in Whitehawk, Brighton for 34 years and brought up four children on the estate. She was also nominated for the 2002 achievement award run by the Brighton and Hove local newspaper.