How are you getting on during these surreal times? Good I hope. Last week, after my 837th socially-distant walk on Brighton beach, I felt a bit bored, and had a lightbulb moment. Figuring you might be feeling the same way as me, I decided to launch a secret Brighton treasure hunt on Instagram Stories, to spice up your daily trip out the house. Each day for a week, I shared a different curiosity from my book, Secret Brighton, or that I’ve written about on my blog. Each one is easy to discover on a walk or cycle around town – or on your next post-lockdown visit to Brighton if you live elsewhere. We even take in a museum and an art gallery and I’m happy to say it was a success! In case you missed it in real time, I’ve saved the treasure hunt in highlights on Stories under ‘1 walk’. Also, it turns out that all together they make a nice blog post. Let’s go!
Day 1. A Victorian cemetery frozen in time
It’s easy to completely forget you’re in the city in this otherworldly Victorian cemetery which seems to go on forever. I like to think of it as Brighton’s answer to Pere Lachaise in Paris™. Follow the “tomb trail” signs for a circular walk up and around winding paths past ivy-covered gravestones up to a wildflower meadow. Disclaimer: the cemetery closed a day after I visited here, but it’s worth bookmarking for a future visit.
See page 136 of Secret Brighton to find out more.
Day 2. A secret shopwindow of curiosities
Anna’s Museum isn’t a museum in a traditional sense. It’s a secret collection of curiosities from bones to butterflies in an old Brighton shop window. It grows and changes over time and everything is presented in little wooden boxes or glass jars each hand labelled so you know what you’re looking at.
With its nostalgic old petrol pumps, this house on Bath Street stands out from all the others. It was once a mini petrol station and mechanic’s yard in the 1960s known as Richard’s Garage. Here’s Richard in his garage…
See page 256 of Secret Brighton to find out more.
4. Art gallery in a phone box
Local artist Sam Toft has turned these two phoneboxes into a miniature art gallery which hosts monthly exhibitions. It’s worth noting at the moment, they are both locked, but you can easily peer at the art inside.
Read my blog post on Dog and Bone Gallery here.
5. A bizarre pet burial ground in a beautiful hidden garden
You’ll find this miniature pet cemetery hidden among the ferns in a corner of the Preston Manor Walled Garden – a gem in itself which it’s likely you’ll have all to yourself. There are 16 dogs and three cats buried here, including one cat called George who used to live in the Pavilion.
Hidden down a leafy side street of Western Road is this architectural oddity which pays homage to Brighton’s most famous building, the Pavilion. It was built by the Regency architect, Amon Henry Wilds, as his own home.
See page 48 of Secret Brighton to find out more.
7. A green wall of Victorian plants
Running the length of the Victorian terraces on Madeira Drive is this incredible 1.2km long green wall which you can see on a cycle or walk along Madeira Drive, although most people don’t notice it at all. It was planted between 1870 and 1882 and some of the plants established when it was first built still thrive!
See page 42 of Secret Brighton to find out more.
Thanks for playing! Stay safe.
Psst! Don’t have a copy of the book and would like a signed gift-wrapped copy? You can buy it from my online shop, here. Just let me know in the notes if you’d like it signed and wrapped. If you live in Brighton, I’ll even deliver it for free.