The story of the pub and the church...

Updated: Sep 10, 2018


Southern Belle pub opposite St Andrew's Church, Waterloo St, Brighton

You know how you hear a good story and you’re not quite sure whether its true or not? So it is with the pub and the church in Brighton. But first, let me dig deep into my memory bank, back to 1979 in Tuttlingen, a small town in southern Germany. I was working there on a building site, ostensibly to learn German, but in fact there was a lot more Turkish spoken. Anyone remember Auf Wiedersehen, Pet? Anyway, as I was the youngest and most gullible, the capo (foreman) put me on the pneumatic drill. We were demolishing a bridge. I started drilling away, bits of concrete flying everywhere. After a while the capo came to watch. He looked solemn and shook his head. Then he said that I should be careful because if the drill reached a certain pitch then the sound waves could cause my teeth to shatter. He assured me it didn’t happen very often, but he’d seen a case a few years earlier. Again, he shook his head sadly at the thought of the guy with no teeth left. I asked him what the pitch was, he said that it depended on the teeth. Just a matter of luck. At the end of the day I was relieved I still had my teeth, and asked my fellow workers about it. They laughed and laughed and laughed… nevertheless, as I worked through the rest of the summer, I was glad when I wasn’t on the drill; it sounded plausible enough.

And so to the pub and the church. Two venerable British institutions, both somewhat in decline. When we reached Brighton, I joined my friend Thomas and his family for a delicious, hearty soup, and then we repaired to the nearby pub. The pub is called the Southern Belle, in memory of a special train service between London and Brighton, which had dining cars and provided a first class service for the few. Originally it was called the Iron Duke, as one of Wellington’s friends lived in the aptly named Waterloo Street. Directly opposite the pub is St Andrew’s Church, which was built in 1828, the same year as the pub. Legend has it that there is an underground tunnel between the two, which allowed parishioners to go straight from the Sunday service to having a drink without having to run the gamut of disapproving stares. This remains a closely held secret even today – you will not be able to find out too much on the internet about it.

Together with Thomas, Andrea and Arlette, discussing the tunnel...

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