Wanderer at Large: Kent, Surrey & Sussex – Brighton

A tour guide’s all-time favourite UK places.

Sponsored by Your London Tours.

This September, Visit Britain, the marketing arm of the British tourist industry, is launching its ‘Great British Staycation Campaign’ to encourage people to holiday in the UK.

Soul City Wanderer (aka Frank Molloy) is one of the UK’s most accredited and experienced tour guides. Over three decades he has visited nearly every part of the country, touring many of the places that Great Britain and Ireland has to offer.

In a new blog series, he will list his all-time favourite five places by area (spiralling out from London*). These are personal choices, some obvious, some obscure.

This week, the area south of London that includes the counties of Kent, Surrey & Sussex.

Blue skies over the famous Brighton pier.


You’d have to be a pretty miserable soul not to have a good time in the Sussex city of Brighton. Everyone should find something to smile about. Along with Blackpool, it’s probably the most famous of English seaside towns, and very popular with holiday-makers and day-trippers.

From London, it’s only an hour by train. One of my favourite moments is walking down the hill from the station and then suddenly glimpsing the sea shimmering in sun. The heart lifts in one of those little happy life-affirming moments.

Brighton contains a vibrant shopping centre which includes the quaint ‘Lanes’ district full of odd little shops. Try to ignore the inexcusable and unnecessary scruffiness in parts of the town. The overall vibrancy and energy make up for it.

A visit to the Royal Pavilion is a worthwhile experience. The magnificent pleasure house was built by the Regent Prince George, and future King George IV. The wayward prince installed his mistress and secret wife Mrs Fitzherbert here in 1785. The house was converted into a villa, then in 1815 into a palace by the architect John Nash. Mixing Chinese, Gothic, Indian, English Regency and French Rococo styles, it is a monument to frivolity. Finished in 1823, it was hardly used and sold to the local council by Queen Victoria. Quite bizarre!

On the seashore we find the famous Brighton Beach, an original Victorian penny arcade, and the fun-filled amusement pier. Forget the diet for the afternoon, and indulge yourself with ice cream, candy floss, and of course, fish & chips! Or how about ‘poshing’ it with couple of gin cocktails at the Grand Hotel?

To walk it all off, you can go for a stroll along the old prom-prom, and hear the brass band play, tiddly-om-pom-pom! There are lots of things beside, that you might like to be beside, beside the seaside, beside the sea!

In short, Brighton Rocks!

Note: All sites mentioned were operating pre-lockdown. Please check relevant websites before embarking on any potential visit. Another recommendation will appear next tomorrow.

For the very best in guided private tours of the UK visit www.yourlondontours.com

*Operators in the UK tour industry often separate the areas of the country according to what touring can be achieved in a region in one day. As a London-based operator, my ‘map’ spirals outwards from the capital and is separated thus:

  1. London
  2. Northern Home Counties (Beds/Herts/Cambs)
  3. Eastern Home Counties (Essex/Suffolk)
  4. Southern Home Counties (Kent, Surrey, Sussex)
  5. Western Home Counties (Ox/Berks/Bucks)
  6. South coast (Hants/Dorset)
  7. Western England (Somerset/Gloucs/Wilts)
  8. South West England (Devon & Cornwall)
  9. Wales (north & south)
  10. Welsh Borders (Herefordshire/Shropshire/Cheshire)
  11. Western Midlands (Brum/Worcs/Warks/Staffs)
  12. Eastern Midlands (Northants/Leics/Rutland/Hunts)
  13. Northern Midlands (Notts/Derbys)
  14. East coast (Norfolk/Lincs)
  15. Yorks (all ridings)
  16. North West (Manchester/Merseyside/Lancs/Lakes/Cumbria)
  17. North East (Durham/Tyne & Wear/Northumberland)
  18. Southern Scotland (Borders/Lowlands)
  19. Northern Scotland (Highlands/Islands)
  20. Ireland (Northern/Southern)

Published by Soul City Wanderer

Soul City Wanderer is the alias of London journalist and author Frank Molloy, a writer on the city’s history and culture. Born south of the river, he has an MA in London history (Birkbeck) and lectures at various institutions including the Museum of London and the National Portrait Gallery. He is also a fully-qualified Blue Badge Guide (MITG), Westminster Guide and City of London Guide.

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