Map of Brighthelmston, 1779

This map was surveyed by Thomas Yeakell and William Gardner and published in 1779. Yeakell and Gardner later became some of the first draughtsman for Ordnance Survey, the national mapping agency for the UK.

What can we see?

St Nicholas Church

Brighton’s ancient parish church is dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. At this time, it stood on the hill as a lonely landmark, as we can see in the view at the base of the map.

Other religions

St Nicholas is an Anglican church, but Brighton was home to other religions.  By the mid-18th century ‘dissenting’ Christian communities such as Quakers and Presbyterians had established places of worship. Their respective meeting houses are marked on the map as both ‘C’ and ‘D’.

The first Jewish meeting house (synagogue) was established around 1792 between Bond Street and Jew Street.

Prince George’s Farmhouse

As the young Prince of Wales made regular trips to Brighton, he rented this farmhouse by Castle Square. He later purchased the property and appointed the architect Henry Holland to convert it into the Marine Pavilion.

Once he had become Prince Regent, George commissioned John Nash to remodel the building into the form we see today. It was completed in 1823, by which time he had become King George IV.

Kent’s Court and Kent Street

These dwellings were constructed by the builder and lime merchant Thomas Kent. They mark some of the first signs of the town growing beyond its traditional borders.

Neighbouring West Street was considered to be one of the most exclusive parts of town with a number of fine new houses. Kent’s Court was much more modest. One 1779 account described it as ‘a miniature square’.

Kent’s Court and Kent Street were demolished in the 1960s to make way for the Kingswest Centre (aka Brighton Top Rank Centre), where the Odeon Cinema can now be found.

East Street Battery

The East Street Battery was constructed by the Board of Ordnance in 1760. It was equipped with 12 guns, which we can see individually depicted on the map.

The guns were intended to act as a defence against French invasion. They  were also fired in salute to visiting royalty. The battery collapsed in November 1786 after suffering storm damage.

Author: Dan Robertson, Curator of Local History & Archaeology.



  1. This is such fascinating information and thanks to all the dedicated curators who produced it. It has made me determined to revisit the sites depicted when the present difficulties have passed.

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