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A Very Short History of Our Shop in The Lanes, Brighton

Posted on August 19 2018

The Lanes is the oldest part of Brighton and full of 'olde worlde' character. Our shop at 48 Meeting House Lane (on the right in this photograph here, just past the pole across the lane) has been known as The Witch Ball since 1964, having been built most likely during the 1790's. It has in it's time been home to many small businesses and families, and was first mentioned in Folthorp's Directory in 1822, when Issac Sharp, (a grocer) lived here with his family.

By 1845 Thomas Salvage who was a gilder and picture frame maker lived here with his family of 10! The ground floor would have been the shop (as we have it now) and upstairs the living quarters. Now we should add, it is a very tiny house with three floors and two rooms on each floor linked by a windy staircase and so the family would have been quite closely packed as there is certainly not room for more than one bed in any of the rooms! The houses in this area of the town are close together and the streets narrow and winding and one can imagine how bustling and busy this area must have been with so may inhabitants to a house! Each house was home to a different business; cutlers, stationers, violin master, hair cutter, fancy cagemaker (!) milliner, corkcutter, shoemaker, clothier and so on...each eking out a living cheek by jowl with their neighbours. 

The Lanes have been a destination for antique and secondhand dealers and shopping since around 1900. Nowadays The Lanes boasts the largest number of independent, secondhand and antique jewellery shops anywhere in the UK outside of London; 45 at the last count! Every weekend couples and families from far and wide visit to stroll the narrow winding streets soaking up the old world atmosphere and ogle the glittering windows full of precious trinkets perhaps purchasing gifts for their nearest and dearest. 

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