Brighton is filled with hidden alleyways known locally as twittens, narrow passages which seem to be unique to Sussex. They’re usually lined with cottages and are found tucked between other wider streets. Apparently at one point in time, you could walk from one side of the city to the other through these alleyways alone. Today, locals use them as short cuts and everyone lays claim to their favourite. Here are some of mine, it’s a list I’ll be adding to if I find more. I’ve included recommendations for places to eat, drink, shop and hang out at nearby, too.
1. Ship Street Gardens
Minutes from Brighton’s busiest neighbourhood The Lanes is this urban gem that makes a good shortcut if you want to avoid slow-walking tourists or shoppers in the area. I tend – like most locals – to rush through this part of town, head down, getting errands done as fast as possible. But one day last summer I wasn’t in a rush and had time to stop to take it all in when I got distracted by these flowers spilling out from a hidden garden onto the alleyway overhead.
Apparently the houses along here and those on nearby Black Lion Lane are the oldest in Brighton, dating back to the late 1500s, although other accounts say the 1700s, it’s not known for sure. There are a few curiosities to discover here, too: a hidden vintage clothing store, Hope and Harlequin, a cool nostalgic old shop floor mosaic and London record label Bella Union’s vinyl shop.
At the west end of Ship Street Gardens on Ship Street you’ll find a good Indian restaurant called the Curry Leaf Café serving tasty southern Indian street food, a charming French restaurant called Petit Pois, an office you can call home and Brighton’s only underground cocktail bar.
Find Ship Street Gardens in The Lanes on the fringes of the Churchill Square shopping area and not far from Brighton seafront.
2. Camden Terrace
Just minutes from Brighton Station is this perfect Victorian hidden gem street frozen in time. Despite its city centre location and the fact it’s ungated, it remains quiet and beautiful – and surprisingly one of the least known and trodden twittens in Brighton.
It’s lined with Mediterranean whitewashed terraced cottages and big villa houses built between 1840 and 1870. With its peaceful vibe, it makes a nice alternative route to and from the station from town. It’s also close to a pub called The Yeoman which does epic roast dinners.
Find Camden Terrace in the West Hill Conservation area tucked away near Brighton station, off York Place between Guildford Road and Upper Gloucester Road.
3. Trafalgar Terrace
The best part about a walk along this alleyway lined with colourful cottages is the chance to snoop at what treasures lurk behind the garden fences. Especially this one with its lovely summerhouse surrounded by apple trees. This was the first ever row of houses to be built in the North Laine. Apparently the front gardens were originally attached to the cottages, which are now separated by the alleyway built through the middle at some point. Although some say the gardens were added afterwards.
Nearby you’ll find Brighton Toy Museum, a non-profit set in four Victorian cellars dedicated to Victorian toys, this no-frills deli for unpretentious lunches and Magazine Brighton, a tiny magazine emporium.
Find Trafalgar Terrace in the North Laine between Trafalgar Street and Gloucester Road.
4. Frederick Gardens
Overshadowed by Post Office main depot building is this long alleyway lined with miniscule two-up-two-down cottages, some in better shape than others. Apparently, this area used to be a big market garden – hence the name – where food that supplied the folk of Regency Brighton once grew. Eventually, the garden was split into sections and cottages were built on each one starting at number 1.
Find Frederick Gardens in the North Laine area behind the main Post Office depot and not far from Brighton Station.
5. St James’s Place
I spotted this gem by accident from the top deck of a bus on my way through Kemptown. I just happened to glance up from my book when the bus stopped, and immediately did a double take. With its six flint-fronted cottages, original iron fences and perfectly worn-cobbled pathway, it’s a contender for the nicest twitten in the city award, if there was one. Only people who live along it can access it though, siiiigh, fair enough. This only adds to its intrigue and explains why it looks so well looked after.
The street was built in the late 1700s when the area was known as the Bond Street of Brighton, for its upmarket shops to attract the wealthy Victorians. Nearby, you’ll find good coffee at Twin Pines up the road and a cosy cocktail bar called The Plotting Parlour to bookmark for your next date night.
Find St James’s Place between numbers 4a and 5 on St James’s Street in Kemptown.
6. Millfield Cottages
This pretty street of pastel-coloured cottages is named after a whitewashed windmill which once stood near the bottom of Sudeley Place.
Find Millfield Cottages in between Sudeley Place and Paston Place, near St George’s Road in Kemptown.
7. Queen’s Place
This isn’t technically an alleyway or twitten, but it’s definitely so well hidden it’s overlooked and too pretty not to share in this post. Unless you do yoga at Studio IO, or live along here, you might know not this tiny little time-capsule street of six cottages exists.
With their black cobbled fronts, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time to another era, when Brighton was a little fishing village. It also makes a nice detour into town from the Roundhill conservation area or London Road past one of my favourite Brighton restaurants, Carlito Burrito. It’s also not far from Brighton’s vintage cinema called the Duke of York’s which happens to be the oldest in the country.
Find Queen’s Place between London Road and Ditchling Road/The Level.
Thanks for letting me show you around!
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