The Royal Terrace is a line of buildings, which start just past pier hill next to the Royal Hotel all the way along to the Army and Navy. The buildings were built as part of a fashionable development in Southend, part of New Southend in the hopes to entice more people to Southend and become a seaside resort to rival that of Margate, Brighton and Weymouth.
Building began in 1791, along with that of the Grand Hotel (late known as the Royal Hotel) and completed in 1794. There was a private shrubbery in front of the properties as a garden for the residents. At the back of the houses were the Royal Mews for stabling the horses of the residents. These are still in existence today and one can still see the layout of the Mews and their use as stables. Today many have been converted into homes.
A Georgian terrace was designed to give a sense of archaeology wholeness and symmetry. Many buildings of the era were heavily influenced by Palladian architecture. Most terraces would be four stories high with sash windows. Banks and Barry (Barry was the son of Charles Barry, who designed and build the Houses of Parliament see https://fortheloveofhistory.home.blog/2019/04/30/a-palace-for-government-westminster-palace-part-2/ for more information on Charles Barry) designed and built the Terrace
The Terrace became the Royal Terrace in 1804 when Princess Caroline, wife to the future King George IV stayed at numbers 7, 8, and 9. It is not known if the buildings were converted to one large house or just connected at the time. One was her office, one accommodation and the other for leisure and parties.
Caroline would not be the only Royal to stay at the Royal Terrace. Lady Emma Hamilton, mistress to Horatio Nelson would also stay in the houses. She would also hold a ball in the assembly room of the Royal Hotel in honour of Lord Nelson in 1805. It is believed the Horatio may have visited Emma another time in Southend, after all his ships were anchored in the Thames estuary. He was commanding the battle squadron that was defending the Thames Estuary and the Eastern Coast. It was only a short trip to Southends shore and into the arms of Emma.
What is interesting in their story is the supposed production of twins, born in Southend. The two lovers already had a daughter, Horatia, born in 1758. There is in the Essex records office a document which gives speculation that Emma also gave birth to twins but for some reason it was kept secret.
A place called Southchurch Lawn, on 18th September 1803, was where it is claimed that Emma gave birth to a boy names Edwin Horatio Hamilton Seacole and a girl, Elizabeth Caroline Lind Seacole. The story goes on to say that a ship’s surgeon called Seacole attended at the birth and persuaded to be the father. At the Christening, it is said that a gentleman with a with an eye patch and an empty sleeve to his jacket’- hmm a close description of Lord Nelson. The Christening was at St Marys Church, Prittlewell.
One more interesting addition to this tale is that the boy would eventually relocate to Jamaica and there marry a Jamaican woman of mixed race, Mary Jane Grant, whose married name would be Mary Seacole – the celebrated ‘black nurse’ of the Crimean war. A great tale, if only it was true.
Back to the Royal Terrace, today it is a grade ii listed property. Some of the houses are open today as boutique hotels. Some need some development work as old and unfortunately neglected buildings do. It is the only surviving Georgina terrace in Southend.
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Anon (2019) History of Southend. Available from: https://www.southend.gov.uk/info/200410/historic_southend/332/history_of_southend/2 [accessed 29.5.2019]
Anon (2019) Royal Terrace Available from: https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101306868-3-15-royal-terrace-milton-ward#.XOvxGdRKjIU [accessed 30.5.2019]
Anon (2018) Building of the Month – August Royal Terrace. Available from: https://www.savebritainsheritage.org/campaigns/article/509/Building-of-the-Month-August-2018-Royal-Terrace-Southend-on-Sea-Essex [accessed 31/5/19]
Barket, L (2015) Document of the Month, August 2015: mystery baptisms. Avalble from: http://www.essexrecordofficeblog.co.uk/document-of-the-month-august-2015-mystery-baptisms/ [Accessed 31/5/19]
Ross, D (nd) Georgian Architecture. Available from: https://www.britainexpress.com/architecture/georgian.htm [Accessed 1.6.19]
Sipple, M (2013) Princess Caroline. Available from: https://www.sarfend.co.uk/bygonesouthend/princess-caroline/ [accessed 29.5.2019]