An absence of respect for the dead and Hove Heritage, a badly damaged religious artefact and an unfortunate new Planning Application from David Gilmour

Dear reader…..a word in your shell-like, please

6.9.16…..It is unnerving to go into the site stats year after year and see endless hits on this article four years after it was written.  Is it to reference the local history account or for info on David Gilmour?  I suspect the latter.  A single note of abuse, attacking David Gilmour, was pinned to Medina House at the beginning of September, 2016 and then passed to The Argus to become an article, prompting an updating note to readers here.
Yeah, David Gilmour is Pink Floyd-famous.  So the article below gets hoovered into general interest from fans and journalists Googling. But it was about a single distressing planning event and needs setting within a wider context now.  The danger is that what is now proposed for Medina House by Polly Samson is being pre-judged, totally, in the light of what is detailed below (and the bicycle shed enforcement story too, alas, still rankles with some).
How did the cross story pan out?  Well, no canoe store was built.  It was a stupid idea anyway (on security grounds).  Was it ever really intended?  An air conditioning unit went into the wall space where the 19th c Verner memorial cross was inserted, within the former garden of 2 Victoria Terrace.  And the cross ended up in the wall of the studio building.
Against these past events please set two pluses.
The renovation of their Medina Terrace property was watched by neighbours with great respect as first class materials and the best builders came and went.  Lou once quipped that she reckoned their place was now holding up the whole Listed Victorian terrace after what was done.  They put quality work into it.
The Gilmour takeover and renovation of the little studio, installed by painter Ida Verner, brought it back into use as a musical artist’s studio and, again, quality work went into doing so – both inside and out.  If Medina House DOES get demolished and the plans DO represent a wish to create a Gilmour family home (and is not just going to become an investment, realised by a sale), then a building of very high quality, using the best materials, installed by the best builders, can almost certainly be expected.  And if there are no applications to change Conditions of Consent (if given) which would see the tiles removed as too far gone to save or whatever, a watering down of Medina references generally, then the ghost of Medina House re-risen will stand there as a lovely family home for many years to come.  A fitting and respectful nod to Medina House will stand in its place.  If.
Do not prejudge the Medina House proposal and just assume that on the basis of the cross relocation onto the side of the studio and THIS article below, you can write off intentions by Polly Samson as cynical destruction of another piece of local history.  Medina House is another West Pier story, albeit not quite at the same stage of wreckage.  Do people prefer to see it slowly disintegrate to dust?  I hope not.  Yes, it would be nice to keep it, but….at what cost and for what purpose?  If you are a total outsider reading this – please also reference the wider story.  The Medina House story is now part of it.  Let’s travel hopefully on this one.


Memorial to Wilford Cole Verner, embedded in the garden wall of his family home c.1889 using Ranger's cement and terracotta tiles

Memorial to Wilford Cole Verner, embedded in the garden wall of his family home c.1889 using Ranger’s cement and terracotta tiles


Attacked around the top of its head and into the side

And now…….

BH2012/03464   Land to rear of 1-2 Victoria Terrace Kingsway within Spa Court carpark, Kings Esplanade, Hove
Application for variation of condition 2 of application BH2011/03375, (Refurbishment of building including replacement of existing roof with new copper roof and rooflights, external rendering and construction of boat store adjacent to entrance ramp) to permit revisions to approved drawings to relocate memorial cross and enlargement of canoe store.
20 November 2012…..For over 3 years now activity around 1-2 Victoria Terrace and in the vicinity of the mysteriously positioned memorial cross-in-the-wall has concerned residents in the Hove Esplanade area.  The first photo, reproduced below, was taken in 2009.  Both the 1-2 Victoria Terrace property owners and Brighton and Hove City Council have much to answer for where their recent attitude to Hove’s heritage and listed buildings is concerned.
 BHCC Conservationists and Enforcement officers have been repeatedly emailed with evidence and photos since 2009 – somewhat of a black hole to drop them into actually.  The current Chair of Planning and Ward Councillor for this area, Cllr Christopher Hawtree has been repeatedly emailed by Lou Stack for help concerning this Headstone/Memorial Cross and got nothing back but holding responses.  Why is that?
This article tells the tale publicly now, in the wake of wilful damage to an historic religious relic by people working under David Gilmour’s architects, LCE and Gilmour’s registration of a new planning application through his company, Hoveco, which includes changing existing planning consent for canoe storage along the party wall by the marble cross.   Gilmour wants that cross put somewhere else (and only applies to move it after having damaged it and in the wake of local pressure!).  The memorial marble cross dates back to the death of Wilford Cole Verner in 1889 and his body may still lie under the former garden area behind 1-2 Victoria Terrace – now a carpark.  Nobody can prove otherwise, so far.  And local knowledge has always been that he is under that carpark. 
The Verner name is significant.  The flats above Victoria Terrace are named Verner House.  Colonel Verner created the shop fronts along Victoria Terrace, having lived at no. 2.  His daughter came back to it and put a painting studio in the garden a couple of decades after the Verners decamped to Brunswick Town.  One of her paintings is owned by the National Portrait Gallery.  And the cross in the garden wall is a memorial to her lost brother.  Just a cross, or was he buried in the garden?  How the cross came to be there remains a job of research for someone.
Victoria Terrace is Listed.  It was entered into a 1994 Hove Borough Council Bldgs Guide as being 1830, Amon Wild designed.  The orioles, visible on the Kingsway frontage at upper levels are considered to be a later, Victorian, addition.  The now-removed stairway from 2 Victoria Terrace down to the small studio building in its garden (now the carpark area for Spa Court and Benham Court, (still including that studio because it belonged to Listed Victoria Terrace) was almost certainly installed by Constance Ida Verner, after her father died.  Thought now to be about 1904ish.
Lou Stack has provided most the material for this article from her researches into the Verner family members and some details were provided to her by Judy Middleton.
Lou Stack

Lou Stack

She has also conferred with and referenced Judy Middleton, a very important and much appreciated former Hove Librarian and local historian.  We at saveHOVE are, however, concerned at the lack of a comprehensive and clear history of the Esplanade colony – now an unfortunate and badly planned hodge-podge of modern and very old (see also archived material here on Medina House and Medina Terrace Lawn for more on Esplanade history).  Medina Terrace and Victoria Terrace are both Listed.  And the stone cross concerns both of them. 
The Esplanade heritage matters, and not least because of the still-to-do redevelopment of the King Alfred at its western end and the need to have what’s left of Hove’s heritage  given its due – and in the case of Medina Lawn: replacement of its lost railings as minimum.
Used as mere storage in recent times, and disvalued for decades, this little building below – which already has  planning consent for conversion to a music studio by Hoveco (David Gilmour) with canoe storage along the wall just short of the stone cross – was, until 2009, linked by a glass-covered staircase into no. 2 Victoria Terrace.  
2009 Removal of Covered Stairway down to the studio building behind 2 Victoria Terrace

2009 Illegal removal of Covered Stairway down to the studio building behind Grade 2 Listed 2 Victoria Terrace

It’s then owner had it gutted and some of it is in the skip photographed below.  There is a horizontal crack in the vertical of the cross which the hoisting of skips into place in 2009 may or may not have been responsible for.

Memorial/gravestone for Wilford Cole Verner by skip

It sat in the garden behind no. 2 Victoria Terrace before the mid-20th century paved paradise, and put up a parking lot around it to serve the seafront Benham and Spa Courts on the Esplanade.  One wonders what attempts might have been made in that era to acquire and demolish this inconveniently tenacious little corner.  Whatever.  It and the stone memorial cross to Wilford Cole Verner, who died aged 26 on 21st November 1889 of typhoid fever have sat here for over a century.  Did his father bury him in the garden of no. 2 Victoria Terrace?  If not, where?  Why a gravestone quality and size cross in the garden wall?
His father owned a section of several addresses along Victoria Terrace and Lou Stack has discovered from The London Gazette that in 1869 Major William John Verner lived at no. 2 Victoria Terrace with his young family.  Judy Middleton records that in 1873 he submitted plans for shops at 2, 3 and 4 Victoria Terrace.  Presumably, the Verner family moved to 35 Brunswick Place from there. 
Following his death in 1902, by then holding the rank of Colonel, his daughter, Constance Ida Verner was making plans for the garden area.   According to Judy Middleton, in September 1905 Hove Council gave Gibbins & Sons permission on her behalf for a proposed picture gallery at 2 Victoria Terrace.  And it is this building that has erroneously been called a coach house and which Miss Verner would no doubt be thrilled to see being brought back into use as a music studio by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
Constance Ida Verner lived at no. 2 Victoria Terrace until 1937.  In the years just after the War the Verner Club operated there….  The corner area between 1 Victoria Terrace and Victorian-built Medina Terrace is Verner House, and it is speculated it may have been built by Colonel Verner.
The little picture gallery building was, until March/ April, 2009, linked by this glass-covered stairway down 2 Victoria Terrace.  The owner removed the stairway down to it without planning consent in 2009.  The Council were unresponsive on that at the time.

The formerly wood-panelled little studio building, with cherubs in the ceiling/window edges, now physically severed from 2 Victoria Terrace, was then legally severed and sold to current owner, Hoveco, director: David Gilmour. Consent to convert to a music studio with canoe storage along the wall by the stone memorial cross to the memory of Wilford Cole Verner was obtained.
The adjacent wall-embedded stone grave marker/memorial cross was to remain untouched.  When they began work on the building, piles of wood were piled up against it, heedless of what damage would be inflicted on the inscription at the foot of the cross.  Wails of worry that it would be damaged were greeted with looks of astonishment.  So?  More recently, great chunks were deliberately hacked out of its surround before neighbours went mad and stopped David Gilmour’s  builders doing worse.   Just look at what they have done to it!
Lies were told that the council gave verbal consent to remove the cross. Now a planning application to remove it and put it where they don’t have to look at it any more has been registered.  As it is in the wall, there is even an ongoing question about who actually owns it!  There are unsubstantiated claims it once stood in the garden and was later moved to the wall.  Where is the grave?  Is it here somewhere?  Local residents are clear it is.  Hoveco’s architects, LCE, claim they’ve scanned and there is no body.
Around 2003, when Tesco wanted to build its carpark in Church Road, the ground was scanned for bodies and none were found…..until they began digging and THERE they were…..!
Hoveco now seek to remove the memorial/gravestone from the wall behind 5 Medina Terrace and adjacent to their  proposed canoe storage as part of amendments to the existing consent. Is it inconvenient to have to look at it?  Imagine it!  Dishonouring the dead and local history, vandalising Hove heritage….for a canoe. 
Not enough is known about the story of this stone memorial/gravestone in the party wall behind no. 5 Medina Terrace and in the former garden area of 2 Victoria Terrace.  Research is ongoing.
Please see the Tuesday, 20th November 2012 Argus for their take on this deeply distressing and dishonourable bit of selfishness on the part of David Pink Floyd Gilmour.  We thought he was better than this.

About saveHOVE

Concerned with planning, development and the conservation of historic Hove, we actively seek to prevent inappropriate, negligent and abusive redevelopments!
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