A little Gothic never hurt anyone

by robertmcnicol

So here’s a very cool building in Brighton (on Steine Street, just off St James’). I’m fairly sure that it’s the stage entrance of an old theatre or cinema. This is at the side of the building (hence the crowding); the front has – from memory – a fancy red brick double-bowed façade and there’s a long rectangular hall that stretches back toward the sea. The building is now an amusement arcade (now there’s a euphemism).

Steine Street Stage Entrance

So why do I like it so much? Well, it’s a curious mix of styles. There’s obviously a strong Gothic influence in the detail – note the pointed arch windows either side of the door, the heavy stone tracery and tiny panes in the first floor windows and the heavy hood above the door (which wouldn’t look out of place above a fire in a medieval Great Hall). Having said all that, though, there’s almost a Baroque feel to the composition. The symmetry; the triangular pediment; the flattened arch underneath (echoed and earthed by the arch above the door); the semi-oval planted balcony device.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when it was built (I can’t find any details on the webbage); I’m fairly sure that it’s mid-19th Century, or late 19th. Or early 20th… or something. It’s a bit confusing, what with the various revival styles incorporated, the surrounding buildings and the likely use. I can tell you that it’s even more imposing being hidden away and for not having been cleaned or well kept, and that it’s wonderfully theatrical.

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