Brighton: The cinematic East Sussex city commonly referred to as ‘London by the Sea’ is known for its debauched reputation, spectacular coastline and iconic regency architecture. It has come to count film stars among its residents and is home to the UK’s oldest purpose-built cinema.
The conjoining town Hove is cited as being the original Hollywood, and the birthplace of early silent film masterpieces, giving this archetypal seaside city a faded glamor which has been immortalized in countless novels, songs, and films — one of the most famous being Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, as Carroll drew inspiration from the tunnel that burrows beneath the sophisticated Sussex Square gardens down to the sea front.
Naturally, the square – with its towering regency town houses – has caught the imagination of residents, including Nick Cave, who is so enamored with Brighton, that he decided to create a visual love letter to it, which was to form the narrative of his autobiographical film 20,000 Days On Earth:
This isn’t an isolated or rare example of the artistic residences’ romantic envisioning of the city. It has been occurring since the fin de siècle and is the setting for Patrick Hamilton’s novel Hangover Square, Graham Green’s crime thriller Brighton Rock and the late 1970s cult film Quadrophenia. More underground, yet equally fascinating portrayals can be found in the anarchic and experimental post war films by Jeff Keen, where the iconic ‘Grand Pier’ (pictured above) can be seen in his Marvo Movie:
But most importantly, a trip to Brighton wouldn’t be complete without visiting The Duke of York’s Arthouse Cinema. As the UK’s oldest purpose-built cinema (est. 1910), it retains the spirit of a Victorian theatre even though it celebrated its centenary a few years back. It’s experienced many incarnations over the years, including serving as an air raid shelter during both world wars, as well as a bingo hall. Thanks to its storied history, the cinema is the heart and soul of Brighton’s cinephile community.
The city has a myriad of design shops, but is most famed for its high quality independent vintage boutiques. Wolf & Gypsy is a particular favorite, with its impeccably hand picked pieces — ranging from 1960s lithographic prints to timeless 1980s Valentino dresses.
But it would be rude not to mention the institution that is Snoopers Paradise. This is a haven for hoarders, where nostalgia fiends can make the most of design items, antique collectables and original vintage pieces.