Developer of the downland between Rottingdean and Newhaven. Owner of the Grange 1936 – 1940
Most of the development of the open land between Newhaven and Rottingdean was brought about by an entrepreneur called Charles W Neville (pictured left) through the South Coast Land and Resort Company almost a hundred years ago. He had first sought his fortune in Canada and Australia before returning to his native England.
Having purchased land in the area he attempted to sell building plots using all available means including the use of prize competitions, one notorious competition being to name the new town. Despite the winning name being ‘Anzac-on-Sea,’ the military connotations became too sensitive and the name Peacehaven was eventually adopted. Like most of his competitions, it offered as prizes cheap building plots on which Neville’s company could build a home, or free plots, on which they could charge for the conveyancing work
Later, free homes were offered to each winner of a lottery style competition for up to 1,000 plot purchasers. The first such Prize Home was won by a London music teacher in 1925. Despite some more recent additions, the property still stands at 24 Chichester Drive East. This promotional stunt was so profitable it was repeated in future years.
Many roads in the area are named after people connected with Charles Neville. In Peacehaven the most obvious is Neville Avenue; while Dorothy Avenue is named after his wife (pictured below) and Roderick Avenue is named after his son, who was also one of the directors of the Company.
Teynham House in Saltdean was designed by R H Jones who also designed the Saltdean Lido. It stands on the coast road at the corner of Longridge Avenue and is named after Lord Teynham, another director of the Company and Chairman of Peacehaven Hotel Company.
In Rottingdean, Neville’s companies produced a high quality of development, often in Tudor Style. The picturesque ‘Tudor Cottages’ on the corner of Dean Court Road are not Tudor but a clever conversion by Neville, during the 1930’s, utilising a barn and some cottages of Court Farm. On the opposite side of the road more ‘Tudor’ homes appeared when two further agricultural buildings were converted into Tudor Close (pictured below).
The buildings were skilfully developed in mock-Tudor style over a period of three years, but much of the fabric of Tudor Close and Tudor Cottages is genuinely old since the timbers that have been so elaborately carved with Tudor roses and other decorations were taken from other old barns and buildings, which themselves may have used timbers from Tudor warships at Portsmouth Dockyard.
Above homes under construction and completed homes from 1926 plus a photo of the team of builders from that year.
Tudor Close Hotel
The homes did not sell well as they were too expensive at a time of depression, so they were converted into the Tudor Close Hotel. In the 1930’s many Hollywood stars, including Bette Davis, Cary Grant and Errol Flynn were guests.
The hotel trade became very difficult after the war because petrol rationing restricted the number of potential visitors. The Hotel continued to be popular with jockeys, race course owners and trainers because they were able to get supplies of petrol! Due to the declining trade, the Hotel failed financially and was converted to homes in the 1950’s but many of the faux Tudor features have been retained.
You may be amused to know that when Waddington’s first introduced the popular board game ‘Cluedo’ in 1949 it was originally called “Murder at Tudor Close.” Travelling entertainers Anthony and Elva Pratt hosted their murder mystery games at the Hotel, which were played out by guests and local actors. Called ‘Murder at Tudor Close’ they later took it to Waddington’s games, who marketed it as Cluedo?.