Brighton, a parliamentary, municipal, and county borough and fashionable watering-place in Sussex, 50 1/2 miles S. of London by rail (1 1/4 hour). Its former name, Brighthelmstone (1252-1810), was superseded about 1800 by Brighton, which occurs, however, as early as 1660. The town is built on a slope ascending eastward to a range of high chalk-cliffs; to the west, these bills recede from the coast; and the nearest point of the South Downs is the Devil's Dyke, 5 miles distant. Ancient Brighthelmstone was a mere fishing-village on a level under the cliff. It suffered much at the hands of French, Flemings, and Spaniards, and still more from the sea, whose inroads in 1699, 1703, and 1706 undermined the cliffs and destroyed many houses. Further inroads are prevented by a sea-wall of great strength (60 feet high and 23 feet thick at the base), extending along the east cliffs, and built between 1827 and 1838 at a cost of £100,000. The writings of Dr Richard Russell, a celebrated physician, first drew public attention about 1753 to Brighton as an eligible watering-place, and the discovery of a chalybeate spring in the vicinity increased its popularity. The visit of the Prince of Wales in 1782, and his subsequent yearly residence there, finally opened the eyes of the fashionable world to Brighton's immense attractions, and it thenceforth became the crowded resort of a health-seeking population, in which the opening of the Brighton Railway in 1841 greatly assisted. It was made a parliamentary borough (returning two members) in 1832, a municipal one in 1854; its progress has been very rapid, and the town is still steadily increasing. As becomes a favoured retreat of wealth and aristocracy, Brighton is for the most part extremely well built, consisting of new and elegant streets, squares, and terraces. The public hotels are magnificent; besides these there are the boarding-houses and nearly 1000 lodging-house keepers. A range of splendid houses fronts the sea for upwards of 3 miles, the promenade - asphalted from end to end, and exceptionally well lighted - being almost on a dead level, within a few feet of the sea, for the greater part of its length, but rising at the east end of the town to a height of 60 feet, on the top of the sea-wall already referred to. Beneath this is the Madeira Road, a fine drive and promenade a mile in length, and sheltered effectually from the north wind. The population is greatly increased during the fashionable seasons (especially in late summer and autumn) by the influx of visitors, the average number being 50,000, chiefly from London, for which reason it is sometimes called London-super-Mare. Of over twenty churches, St Nicholas, dating from the time of Henry VII., is the only ancient one; Holy Trinity Church has been rendered famous from the ministry of F. W. . Robertson. The public buildings include the town-hall, the town-hall in the adjoining township of Hove (part of the parliamentary borough, but not included for municipal purposes), the unrivalled aquarium (1872), museum of British birds, school of science and art, Brighton college, theatre, and the Sussex county hospital. At Queen's Park, in the east of the town, is the German Spa establishment, and at St Anne's well and wild gardens in the west is a chalybeate spring. In the north of the town is the Preston public park of 62 acres (1884), which cost £50,000, the money being left to the town by the 'leviathan' bookmaker, Mr W. E. Davies(1819-79).
Near the centre of the town is the Royal Pavilion or Marine Palace, a fantastic oriental or Chinese structure, with domes, minarets, and pinnacles, and Moorish stables, begun for the Prince of Wales in 1784, and finished in 1827. It was purchased in 1850 for £53,000 by the corporation, and with its fine pleasure-grounds it is devoted to the recreation of the inhabitants. The concert-hall known as the 'Dome,' formerly the royal stables, can accommodate 3000 people. Adjoining are the public library and museum and picture-gallery. The famous chain pier (1823), 1136 feet in length, was destroyed in a storm in 1896; the much wider ' West Pier' (1866) is 1115 feet long; and the New Pier and Marine Palace (1900) is 1700 feet long. Pop. (1801) 7339; (1821) 24,429; (1841) 46,661; (1861) 77,693; (1881) 107,546; (1891) 115,873; (1901) 123,478; of parliamentary borough, two members (1901), 153,386. See works by Erredge (1862), J. Bishop (1875-80), Sawyer (1878), Sala (1895), and on the ' Brighton Road * by C. G. Harper (1892).