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Brighton History

Birghton History Recorded as the tiny fishing village of Bristelmestune in the Domesday Book in 1086, Brighton has a very colourful history of invasion, decline, prosperity and royalty.

In 1313 the town was awarded a charter by Edward II in 1313 permitting a market to be held in Brighton every Thursday and a fair lasting three days at the feast of St Bartholomew (24th August). During this medieval period, the town was bounded by West Street, North Street, East Street and the sea, and developed both as a farming and a fishing community.

Life was hard in those days and in the 14th century the parish managed to avoid paying taxes on the grounds of poverty and crop failure.

In the early 1500s Brighton was raided by the French and almost completely destroyed by fire, although the place did not gain any national significance for another century when in 1651 King Charles II stayed there before escaping to France.

After this time the town fell into decline and was very nearly destroyed by the great storms of 1703 and 1705.

Luckily Brighton was saved from being lost in history when Dr Richard Russell arrived in 1750 and proclaimed the healing benefits of his seawater cure.

The town received a further boost when in the early 1800s the Prince Regent, later George IV, visited and decided to set up home at the Royal Pavilion palace. This consequently made Brighton fashionable with the rich and famous, and during the same period many of the town's renowned squares and crescents were built.

However, the town did not stay popular with royalty for very long when Queen Victoria took the throne – in fact she despised the place so much she sold the Royal Pavilion to Brighton. During this period major landmarks, such as the clock tower, Palace Pier and West Pier, were built, and the London to Brighton Railway opened in 1841.

The early 20th century saw more reward as the town grew in popularity with tourists, but the with the swinging sixties came tension and unease when rival gangs, the ‘mods’ and the ‘rockers’ battle for supremacy among Brighton’s streets.

Thankfully that craze passed with Brighton escaping relatively unscathed and by the end of the 1970s the town had become an international conference centre with the opening of the Brighton Centre.

By the early 90s the town had started to reinvent itself as a 'city on the sea' and Brighton and nearby Hove officially merged when they are made one local authority.

The dawning of the new Millennium has brought more prosperity, with Brighton and Hove together being granted city status in 2000 – and so the City of Brighton was born.


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