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33 Palmeira Mansions

Home of ELC English language school since 1962

The English Language Centre in Brighton has been based at 33 Palmeira Mansions since it was founded in 1962. The building itself has a long history dating back to the 1880s and still maintains many of its beautiful historic features. In 1978 it was listed as Grade II* for its magnificent interior.

Palmeira Mansions

Palmeira Mansions, on Palmeira Square, are two south facing terraces built between 1883-4. Designed by the architect J H Lanchester and the builder Jebez Reynolds jnr, these large Victorian properties have four storeys with an attic and basement. However, number 33 is unique in terms of its wonderful interior design.

33 Palmeira Mansions

Number 33 Palmeira Mansions was purchased in 1889 by Arthur William Mason at the age of twenty-nine. A widower after the tragic death of his first wife, he moved into the house with a young daughter Christina.

In the early years of living at the house Mr Mason used the family fortune to refurbish the interior in a lavish eclectic mix of fixtures (the best that money could buy) which include:

  • elaborate fire places some with stunning over-mantles
  • carved mahogany doors
  • a variety of lincrusta wallpapers
  • exquisite stained glass windows
  • decorative Moorish style ceiling
  • parquet floors
  • marble staircase, floors and dados

The entrance hall was enlarged and then transformed by a marble staircase, where his art collection was displayed against the tiled alabaster walls.

Miraculously many of the original fixtures have survived the ravages of time and development.

One of the paintings in his collection, 'Dante in Exile' by Lord Leighton', was later purchased at auction by Andrew Lloyd-Webber in 1990 for £1 million, a then-record for a Leighton.

Mr Mason lived at 33 Palmeira Mansions for a total of fifty-one years until his death in 1940. He out-lived a second wife and married again in his seventies.

Friends of Palmeira

In 2007 the organisation 'Friends of Palmeira' was set up to collect funds for the conservation and preservation of the interior of this fabulous historic building.

If you would like more information about Friends of Palmeira, contact


Each May tours take place as part of the Brighton Festival Fringe.

Private tours of the building can be pre-arranged from 3pm onwards weekdays or anytime at the weekends. Contact

See her website for details of guided tour dates by Jackie-Marsh Hobbs who has researched in great detail the history of the building.

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