Issue 15 . Summer 2004
Plus Ca Change
Way back when a whole house in Lewes Crescent cost just £2,800, Anne Lister and her girlfriend got stranded in Brighton for three days, waiting for a packet-boat to take them to France.
It was August 1826 and 35 year-old Anne had recently inherited Shibden Hall in Halifax from her uncle. She had for 9 years been keeping a detailed diary of all her activities, including coded entries for intimate moments with her lovers. She and Marianna stayed at the upmarket York Hotel at 43, The Steine (now Royal York Buildings).
They spent their time in Brighton in the now time-honoured fashion - they took a turn round the recently opened Chain Pier, sauntered along Marine Parade to Kemp Town, where they looked over a house they had no intention of buying and haggled with a market trader over "a second hand thermometer, about 10 inches long, in a red morocco case".
Back at the hotel, Marianna was sick over Anne in bed (after drinking too much water) and in the morning they had some coded entries. Like so many other lesbians who've come here, Anne notes that she would "like it exceedingly if we lived for a while at Brighton".
We are very grateful to Helena Whitbread for supplying us with legible extracts from Anne Lister's diary covering her stay in Brighton. To find out what happened either side of this brief sojourn, see Helena's book, No Priest But Love.