My favourite place is St Ann’s Wells Gardens and imagining George Albert Smith and Laura Eugenia Bayley running the pleasure garden with a monkey house, fortune-teller and magic lantern displays. They also built the second film studio in the UK at St Ann’s Wells Gardens and were pioneers in early filmmaking known for comedies and explored the possibilities of special effects.
Jess’ story about St Ann’s Well Gardens has been included in the walking tour at Brighton Festival 2022. You can read and listen to the other 11 stories that have been included by clicking here.
Like many people I first came to Brighton (35 years ago now) as a student, and for ten years I lived in the area between the Duke of York cinema and London Road station. I come from a family of walkers and I have such good memories of my walks when I first lived in Brighton.
I would regularly explore the local area on foot and my favourite walk encompassed the parks and leafy roads near to where I lived. I would walk along Beaconsfield Road and down to Preston Park, walking the whole way across the park, through the rose garden (smelling the roses if they were in bloom), past the bowling greens and tennis courts, and through the little churchyard at the other side, reading the gravestones en route.
I would then cross the road and walk up the hill through the tree lined Surrenden Road past Varndean, where I would admire the houses and imagine being lucky enough to live there one day (I haven’t achieved this ambition!). I would come out onto Ditchling Road where there is a lovely view of the sea and walk downhill past Hollingbury Park. When I reached Fiveways, I would head down to Blakers Park, walk through the park and return home via Beaconsfield Road.
This walk enabled me to get to know the local area, gave me a decent amount of exercise – a fair bit of uphill walking, and allowed me to discover and enjoy local green spaces. Sadly, Preston Park is no longer the lovely park it used to be. It has been neglected for some years now with overgrown bowling greens and no flower beds remaining. I am happy to say that the rose garden and the rockery are still there.
I live in Mile Oak now and I am lucky enough to be able to walk out onto the South Downs from my house where there are wonderful views of the city, sea and countryside. It is only a couple of miles from Mile Oak to Devil’s Dyke. Many of my regular walks include a stop for tea and cake or ice cream at Mile Oak Farm, a welcome break, before I return home.