Browsing Brighton’s Lanes

by Amber Bryce  |  Published April 29, 2015

Narrow paths, cosy pubs and beautiful shops all intertwine to make up the heart of Brighton and its historic quarter, otherwise known as The Lanes. This is a place to find unique treasures and pieces of the past.

Brighton Lanes (Photo: Tilemahos Efthimiadis)

Brighton Lanes (Photo: Tilemahos Efthimiadis)

Once you’ve met Brighton, you will never forget it. Pier lights dance along the sea, pubs and restaurants bustle with sociable amblers. Everywhere you look, colourful characters stroll the streets, browsing an eclectic mixture of shops, while those enjoying a cone of chips scour the skies for sly, peckish seagulls.

Beneath the surface of Brighton’s hip and quirky style is a seaside town that’s filled with nostalgia; a dual personality noticeable through such contrasting sights as the lively Brighton Pier positioned just a few steps from the skeletal silhouette of the old burnt down pier. There’s a reflective, calmer side to this town that can take you back to what it once was. Perhaps the best area to experience this aspect of Brighton is within its famous historic quarter: The Lanes.

The Lanes are a charming mixture of tiny boutiques, antique shops, fishermen’s cottages and cosy pubs that snuggle along narrow alleyways and brick-paved paths. This part of Brighton is one of the oldest existing, once being at the heart of Brighthelmstone fishing town and having been constructed around the late 18th century.

It’s easy to get lost when meandering lazily through The Lanes, discovering something new and exciting at every turn. Their historical character is brought to life through the architecture and old-fashioned signs swinging over quaint shop windows. It all feels really quite magical, like wandering through the narrative of a poem or literary scene.

Each individual Lane takes you down a different passage of time, with Quadrophenia Alley a portal to the swinging 60s, inspired by the Mods and Rockers of the decade (and of course, the famous film) and then there are the oldest of The Lanes – the Twitten Lanes, where pausing for a drink in The Black Lion pub is a must after strolling the ancient and extremely narrow Black Lion Lane.

Bespoke jewels and cosy pubs 

The Lanes are not only a way to lose yourself, escaping the modern energy of Brighton and finding a more serene pace, but they also offer the chance to find treasures. They’re especially famous for unusual shops, in particular those specialising in jewellery and antiques. One such shop is ‘Baroque Bespoke Jewellery’, which sells intricate creations by local designers, offering unique, one off pieces. If your eyes need a little something too, then ‘Frames in the Lanes’ is another stylish boutique, selling various glasses and sunglasses made from fine materials.

Art and creativity is an essential part of Brighton’s identity, and this shines through The Lanes. Beautiful and unusual home decor can be found in boutiques such as ‘Papillon’, while the ‘ART5 Gallery’ provides a space for visitors to find inspiration from the selection of British and international art on display.

Browsing can be tiring work though, which is why you’ll find such a tempting selection of pubs and cafes scattered about, inviting you inside for a pint of refreshing ale or a slice of cake and cup of tea.

In addition to the famous Black Lion pub, there’s The Cricketers situated on the same street, with a Victorian styled decor in fitting with its setting. Revellers can relax downstairs with a pint or visit the cocktail bar upstairs. Many of the establishments in the area are charged with an enigmatic atmosphere, a cosy and quirky interior design that makes settling in for the night very easy.

The Lanes are welcoming, with a character you can’t help but fall in love with. Buskers animate the atmosphere with jazz and you could trick yourself into thinking you’ve disappeared into the scene of a movie, while the sound of the sea is never far and distant seagull cries carry through the air. You really couldn’t find a more enchanting place to amble the time away.