Here’s an interesting fact about autumn to spew at your next gathering. We typically think of ‘fall’ – short for ‘fall of the leaf’ – as the North American version of the word ‘autumn’. But, it was also once widely used in England until the 18th century, when the word autumn entered English from the French automne. So there you go! (Thanks to the Met Office for this gem.)
Facts aside, autumn is in full swing in Brighton. The mornings are growing crisper, the days are getting shorter, and there’s a sense of seasonal change in the air. Autumn is also a great time to visit – and be living in – Brighton.
The summer crowds thin, and the weather is usually pleasant and mild. The days are long enough to get lots in before darkness sets in, and the changing leaves add an extra bit of character to the city. So, if you’re visiting Brighton this season, here are some ways – some out the box – to get cosy in Brighton this autumn.
Autumn in Brighton
Discover Brighton ghosts at Preston Manor
Pay a visit to some of Brighton’s ghosts at a hidden haunted manor house. With its secluded location surrounded by trees, most people walk past Preston Manor without realising it. Those who have heard of it, don’t know much about what it’s used for or what’s inside. Once you find it, you’ll discover a magnificent historic home that paints an evocative picture of Edwardian and post-Edwardian life both upstairs and downstairs.
What’s most surprising about it, is that it’s said to be the most haunted house in Britain. For many years, it was said to be haunted by a blonde woman dressed in white, with several guests complaining of unexplained happenings. Living TV’s Most Haunted team filmed a programme on Preston Manor in 1996 and claimed they experienced one of their most active nights of paranormal activity. When I visited, the staff also told me stories of their spooky experiences in certain rooms of the house, which sent shivvers up my spine.
Side point: While you’re here, pay a visit to ‘my secret Brighton garden’, an Edwardian hideaway which looks incredible in the autumn and is home to this curiosity: a miniature pet graveyard; and Brighton’s mysterious hidden waterfall across the road. Alternatively, join a Ghost Walk of The Lanes for more Brighton spookiness.
Wander through Woodvale Cemetery’s Victorian Graveyard
Woodvale Cemetery near Hanover is a mind-blowing 70-acre cemetery complex in the centre of the city, most people overlook. It’s home to a Victorian burial ground with a romantic (but eerie) 19th century atmosphere all its own. The paths are overgrown with moss and lined with wonky, ivy-covered gravestones. It’s an incredibly atmospheric place to wave goodbye to Autumn.
It’s somewhat of a mini-city of unique mausoleums and intricate graves, some given extraordinary detail and pomp back in the day. What’s surprising is that despite its gargantuan size, it’s likely you’ll only ever encounter a handful of other people while you’re here. Weather permitting, you can picnic in the little picnic garden near the entrance.
Side point: If you can’t visit Brighton soon, follow me for a virtual wander around the gravestones here. If you can visit, afterwards, make some time to follow this self-guided walk around the neighbourhood of Hanover, home to colourful houses and pretty corner pubs.
Hocus pocus! magic shops and psychic readings
Whether you’re a seasoned occultist, or a newbie intrigued by the craft, there are several places in Brighton for feeding your aspiring inner Pagan. Start off with a trip to Gaia’s Magick on Sydney Street, loved for its crystals, jewellery and spiritual books. Meanwhile, over on Kensington Gardens, the shop Two Feathers, stocks beautiful native American tribal jewellery, crystals, and other products like music instruments including singing bowls and flutes. They also have a big holistic section of delicious incense, candles and oils.
Fancy a psychic reading? There are two places in the city with good reputatations. Julia Braiden of JJ Tarot comes from a long line of clairvoyants and has read tarot cards since 1993 in her beautiful shop on Madiera Drive. All readings take 30 minutes and cost £30. She also offers phone readings on Tuesday afternoon which you booked by texting her on 07583 121122 . Claire Petulengro, another famous Brighton tarot reader from a long line of clairvoyants also offers phone readings which you can book via her website. Two Feathers mentioned above also hosts readings. Find out more here.
Want to take your interest in modern witchcraft further? Then pay a visit to the former home of the pioneer of modern witchcraft, Doreen Valiente. She lived at 6 Tyson Place, Grosvenor Street, Brighton
and is the first person to have spoken openly about the craft after it was made legal in 1951. A blue plaque marks her home and life.
Snuggle up on a cosy date night
As the weather gets colder, what’s better than snuggling up with a glass of wine or some dinner? Here are my picks for places in Brighton to escape the cold:
Lion and Lobster is a cosy, quaint pub in Hove which has been around for 500 years with warm wood interiors and fairy-lit corners. Expect a warming wine selection and hearty comfort pub food.
Twin Pines Coffee will charm you with its basement with its low lighting and grandma-centric décor in Kemp Town.
My local fish and chip shop, the Model Fish Fryer in Fiveways, Brighton, is like stepping into a Twin Peaks film set or a log cabin complete with wood panelling and checkerboard floor. It’s also one of my favourite places for fish n chips away from the seafront crowds.
Warm the autumnal cockles at the beach box sauna spa
Arguably, there’s nothing more cosy than a visit to this amazing Finnish sauna experience on Brighton seafront. It’s great at any time of year, but particularly magical in Autumn, with turn of the season. Approved by the Swedish Sauna Academy, Beach Box Sauna replicates the traditional Scandinavian-style sauna experience.
It features three wood-fired saunas – two set inside converted horse boxes and a new one made out of upcycled materials, a plunge pool, cold showers and a fire pit. You can also enjoy various natural body treatments, try leaf whisking – a treatment which involves hitting yourself lightly with birch and oak twigs – ‘whisks’ – to promote better circulation, or take a dip in the sea. I feel invigorated just typing this. Seriously it’s one of the best things about living in Brighton!
Side point: Not sure what to expect? Take a sauna session with me over here!
burlesque cabaret in a former tomb
Proud Cabaret is a supper club and cabaret show nightspot with an unusual setting in a Grade II-listed former grave, better known as the Sassoon Mausoleum, a fancy oriental style structure complete with a pagoda roof topped with a vase and finial. It was once the resting place of Sir Albert Sassoon, a member of the prominent Anglo-Indian-Jewish family of entrepreneurs who founded the Sassoon & Co banking firm. But don’t worry – you won’t be dining next to his remains. His body was moved to a Jewish cemetery in London when his grandson, Sir Philip Sassoon, sold the house and garden. Check out their listings and reserve your table here.
Go city leaf peeping
Researching ‘autumn in Brighton’, every travel blog or article I read tells me to visit the Pavilion Gardens, Sheffield Park Gardens, Wakehurst, Borde Hill and the South Downs National Park. These places are stunning, but they’re too obvious and get busy. Seeeing as here at Ellie & Co we’re into thinking outside the travel box, here are a couple of alternative ideas for observing the turn of the season.
The first idea is to go leaf peeping closer to home on a hidden walk around Brighton and Hove, particularly around the tree-lined backstreets of residential neighbourhoods like Seven Dials close to Brighton station with its white-washed Regency architecture. The second idea is to discover an overlooked park, known as the Rock Garden, which is also setting for the city’s mysterious hidden waterfall, and the virginia-creeper-covered outhouse turns a vibrant red.
Get into the Autumn spirit – head to the farm!
Autumn is apple season! Stanmer Park hides a building called The Fruit Factory which is home to the Brighton Permaculture Trust Scrumping project. Each year, they process up to 40 tons of fruit from local gardens and Sussex orchards into delicious apple juice, cider and other products. It’s open every weekend (11am-4pm) and they invite you to bring your own apples and pears for juicing. See their website.
Less than an hour from Brighton in Sussex, is the huge Middle Farm. It is home to the Cider Barn, home to the ‘world’s largest permanent collection of cider and perry’. There are over 100 types of each, and you can taste many of them before you buy them. There is also fresh apple juice from Kent and Sussex and their own brand Pookhill Cider. Plus locally grown apples for sale in the Farm Shop in season. They also invite you along on Apple Day to have your own apples pressed.