Medina Terrace from the Esplanade, some time before railings enclosing the lawn were removed
The Lawn was there before the terraced housing. It was created for the recreational use of Osborne Villas, Medina Villas and Ventnor Villas residents and was privately owned. When Medina Terrace was built, those residents rights of use were added and encoded into their deeds. Some original deeds survive in the ownership of existing residents.
This lawn, in two sections, divided by a walkway, sits between the end property of Courtenay Terrace and the Medina Terrace road and runs the length of Medina Terrace.
Dog walkers bring their animals to the lawn and foul it freely, people burn holes in it with disposable barbecues (whilst sitting on smears of dog poo), and the all-night hen & stag revellers staying over the road at the Smart Sea View Hotel (formerly St. Catherines Lodge Hotel) party there.
In addition, men urinate along the bush/wall area beneath the windows and alongside the garden area of the Courtenay Terrace House abutting the lawn. And the stench distresses them. Dogs and urinating people abuse year-round, but the rest tend to be more of a summer problem.
On Sunday, 15th April, 2012, Medina Terrace residents had the pleasure of watching Brighton Marathon participants breaking off to urinate on the lawn, in the bushes and up against the wall before returning to resume their running. This is the contempt being shown to what should be a clean and safe place for the residents living there and their children to use.
RESIDENTS HAVE HAD ENOUGH!
In the February/March period of 2012 residents met with management at the hotel after it was organised by Ward Cllr Andrew Wealls and again at the lawn itself, with a Parks & Gardens representative and ward councillor to discuss a way forward.
Medina Terrace and Lawn have something of a history. The entry in Judy Middleton’s Encyclopedia informs us that the land for this lawn was bought in 1852 as recreation space for the use of residents from St. Catherines Terrace and the Villa streets just north of the Kingsway.
Information from a Medina Terrace resident tells us that Medina Terrace was not built until 1873-5ish and her (original) deeds show that residents there were added to the list of permitted users.
During World War 2, Canadian Armed Forces personnel spent a period of time in Hove and it is said that Medina Terrace was requisitioned to house them. Information on this is now sought by us.
Judy Middleton’s encyclopedia entry speaks of a “Medina Ward Enclosure Committee” that once administered this lawn but under the Hove Corporation Act 1947, management was taken over by Hove Council. But what about ownership? We would like to see evidence of a formal transfer of any ownership of the lawn….which may or may not ever have happened!
The lawn was once enclosed by decorative railings, sturdy piers and gates, a flagstaff at the southern end and a drinking fountain at the northeast end.
The lawn remained enclosed by railings until the 1950’s. A Medina Terrace resident recalls that a coal delivery vehicle ploughed into the railings; but no repair is thought to have been done. Instead, Judy Middleton says, Hove Council decided to remove the railings entirely to “make the space more available to the public”. It is today managed by BHCC Parks & Gardens.
It may have been the case (experienced by squares-in-decline elsewhere before the last 30 years of gentrification and property-owning pride) that attention to management declined, with fees unpaid, keys going astray.
RESIDENTS NOW ACTIVELY SEEK AN ALTERED FUTURE FOR THE LAWN
As at mid-late April, 2012 information is being assembled. Issues include exact dates of events such as the removal of those railings and the legal history concerning ownership and management. Photographic evidence of the lawn’s use over time and its fountain and railings are needed. A few pictures taken from the Esplanade (James Gray Collection) show the railings there, but not the lawn itself or the northeastern side.
Anyone who can add to the picture being built up, with documentation or pictures, is invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can put it together properly to help with the way forward.
Parks and Gardens cannot ring the lawn with landscaping to help deter dog-walkers. Terrace residents do not allow their small children on the lawn because of fouling. And whilst some of it is picked up, urine cannot be and traces of exrement remain and get onto clothing. And this is a health and safety issue of importance for babies, toddlers, small children and the rest.
Residents are looking into the feasibility of reinstating the railings originally there and also the possibility of returning use of the lawn to its former keyholder only use. If there is will and money, it may even be possible to take back ownership of the lawn and management of it. The Council will not pay to reinstate the railings and fundraising would have to be undertaken if the council retains control of the lawn’s management.