Travel In Pictures Brighton Summer Season: The Lanes & The North Laine


The next stop-offs in my Travel in Pictures Brighton ‘Summer Season’ are two fabulous areas for wandering, hanging out day or night, and shopping – next to each other, but with quite different characters. First we’re losing ourselves in the twisting maze of Harry-Potter-Diagon-Alley-esque, centuries-old, historic Lanes. And then we’re treating ourselves to a bit of funky bohemia in the North Laine.

The Lanes

The Lanes is a network of atmospheric, historic, twisting streets and alleys that once formed the original fishing village of Brighthelmstone. Apparently dating from the late 16th century, you can read here a very interesting overview of The Lanes’ history.

These days, The Lanes are full of independent restaurants, pubs, cafés and shops – many of them antique and vintage jewellery shops, gift shops and boutiques. The Lanes are quaint, and have a more sedate and ‘olde worlde’, gentrified feel than the more bohemian quirkiness of the North Laine.

Here’s a map of The Lanes (and North Laine), although my tip is just to wander about, soak it all in, and stop off where you fancy it. But you absolutely shouldn’t miss at least a gawp – if not a purchase, or a huge slice of chocolate cake – at the truly astounding chocolate art at Choccywoccydoodah shop and café.

Click individual photos to enlarge & scroll

The North Laine

Me queuing outside the North Laine's Komedia Club, Brighton, 2017
Me queuing up for some laughs at the North Laine’s Komedia Club

If you’ve heard Brighton being described as London by the sea, then the North Laine is like Camden Lock market (errr, without the lock bit that is).

A ‘laine’ is an old Sussex word for a piece of land at the foot of the Downs (and in case you’re not familiar with them, here’s a map showing Brighton in relation to what was designated in 2010 as the South Downs National Park).

In the 19th century the North Laine slumped into chaos and poverty, becoming notorious for slum living conditions and slaughterhouses. It was cleaned up in the 1860s, but as late as the 1960s, crime levels meant that local police called Kensington Gardens ‘Smash and Grab Alley’. It also happens to be the road where Anita Roddick opened the first branch of the Body Shop.

If you’re interested, you can read much more about the history of North Laine on its Community Association website.

Suffice to say that today, the North Laine is not how it once was, although perhaps its bohemian edge is a legacy of its chequered history.

In the modern day North Laine, several largely pedestrianised streets offer up tons of one-off shops, pubs and cafés, as well as a great deal of street art which I’m excited to be covering in a future post. Browsing and shopping opportunities include vintage clothes shops, funky gift shops, tattoo and piercing parlours, antique shops in Upper Gardener Street, and Diplocks Antique Market and the Brighton Farmer’s Market at 73 North Road.

And the North Laine also hosts one of my favourite nights out in Brighton – the fantastic Komedia and its Krater comedy club.

Click individual photos to enlarge & scroll

Visiting the Brighton Lanes and North Laine: Basic Information

Where is Brighton?:  The City of Brighton & Hove is in East Sussex, in South-East England, UK. 

Getting There: See the bottom of my post on the Top 10 Reasons to Visit Brighton for directions about how to get to Brighton.

Locating The Lanes and North Laine: This walking map shows the streets of The Lanes and North Laine in relation to Brighton seafront and train station.

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