Quaker Burial Ground
Before the Royal Pavilion Estate was built, the land was believed to have belonged to the local Quakers. On the Bishop’s Map of 1803, the area which is now the Royal Pavilion Estate was called ‘Quaker’s Croft’, and just a few years before the Royal Pavilion Estate was built, the Quaker meeting house moved to its current location. During renovation works in Aug 2017 at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange a total of 18 burials were found, confirming the belief that there was a Quaker burial ground at this location. A team of 5 from Archaeology South East carried out excavations of these skeletons, explaining the discovery in more details in an interview.
Photography by Carlotta Luke
Letters were discovered in both whole pages and in fragments, by workers during redevelopment works in September 2017, at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange. They give a fascinating glimpse of what life was like for soldiers hospitalised at the Royal Pavilion Estate when it was a make-shift hospital during WWI.
One letter, from 20 April 1918 was written by a JC Cocks, a patient at Queen Marys Hospital, Roehampton, to his friend Brown a patient at the Pavilion hospital:
‘I dare say you are expecting a letter from me as to how they are treating me at the above. Well it is not too bad here at all, it is a little out of the way, we find this especially so in bad weather as amusements are not next door to the hospital as at the pavilion. I am being fitted with a [illegible] arm (a French make) it is very light in weight and will suit my purpose very well. I don’t think this arm is suitable for manual labour & what I have seen of the arms I should think an Anderson + Whitelaws would suit you’
In another letter, an unnamed Private wrote from Boulogne base: ‘Dear Fred, I hope you are much better now. I have had another turn in hospital. I fell down and grazed my eye and knee and got some fluid under the knee cap: but it has got quite alright now. I was carrying a tray of Beef and tripped over a sack of harness.’
A third letter was torn into fragments so cannot be read as well, but is dated 25 August 1918. It is from a patient in ‘Section D 120, The Pavilion, Brighton and is addressed to ‘My Dear May’
Along with the letters, a collection of other items was found including a knife, match and cigarette packets, bottles, newspaper cuttings (including from The Times of India), sweet wrappers, a toothpaste tube, and boot polish.
During the redevelopment of Brighton Dome between 1999 and 2002, there were a number of objects and letters found, with the earliest dating back to July 1942. These letters and some other ephemera were found in a handbag when the audience section of Brighton Dome was completely pulled out. As well as this handbag, objects such as photographs, cans, a handkerchief and a collection of different cigarette packets were found.
Discover more Wartime stories from Brighton Dome