The freehold of the Enclosures was bought on behalf of the residents of the estate for just £100 in 1995. For the full extraordinary story of how it came about see The Kemp Town Bicentennial Book 1823-2023.
The local historian Anthony Dale lived on the Estate and wrote a pocket-sized ‘History’ which has since been updated to the early 1990s. This can be purchased, price £3, from the office of Jonathan Rolls, agents for the company Kemp Town Enclosures Limited.
What follows is just a short summary
The History of the Estate & Gardens
Thomas Read Kemp, MP for Lewes, owned the land on which the Estate was built and started what was, for its time, an enormously ambitious plan to build houses that could accommodate all the servants and paraphernalia of wealthy families who came to Brighton for the fashionable summer season. He decided, immodestly, that it would be called Kemp Town.
Despite early financial difficulties and some alterations to the original plan, the land was laid out in 1823 by the architects Amon Wilds and Charles Busby, who were responsible for many of the new Regency suburbs of Brighton. Thomas Cubitt, working together with Henry Kendall, a surveyor and pupil of John Nash, developed part of the estate.
Arundel Terrace was built first and was a success, but Kemp lacked the funds to do more than build the facades of Lewes Crescent, Sussex Square and Chichester Terrace. Buyers would build as they pleased behind the uniform facades (so every house is differently laid out). Kemp’s expenditure on developing the estate outpaced his income from the sale of house plots and when he found himself unable to pay his creditors he fled to France, beyond the reach of English law and his creditors. By that time there was a significant number of wealthy owners already in place, and they made plans for the Gardens, sharing equally the expense.