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This fashionable sea-bathing place, municipal and parliamentary borough is in the Eastern division of the County, Whalebone hundred, and rape of Lewes, and is distant from London by railway 50½ miles, and 51 by the road through Croydon, Balcombe, and Cuckfield, 29¾ from Reigate, 6 from Shoreham, 10¾ from Worthing, 21 from Arundel, 28¼ from Chichester, 44¾ from Portsmouth, 34½ from Hastings, 14¼ from Newhaven, 8¼ from Lewes, and 26 from Horsham.
The ancient name of Brighton was Brighthelmstone, or Brighthelm, the name given by the Anglo-Saxons. At the Norman Conquest, the "Domesday Book" states that Brighthelmstone, with other local possessions, was given to William De Worrenne, the son-in-law of the Conqueror. In the year 1313 a charter for holding a weekly market was obtained by John, the last Earl of Warrenne and Surrey.
Brighton is situated upon that division of the South Downs which lies between the rivers Adur and Ouse: it occupies a valley running north and south, and spreads over a great part of the adjacent hills: on the east the Downs approach the sea, and terminate in steep cliffs; on the west a belt of rich alluvium skirts the sea, from which the Downs gradually recede until, beyond the river Adur, they traverse nearly the centre of the county. The Downs extend between 5O and 60 miles in length, with an average breadth of 7 miles: the mean altitude is about 5OO feet above the level of the sea, but some of the heights attain an elevation of between 800 and 900 feet: on the northern side the descent is steep and abrupt; on the southern it is gradual: in their general outline the Downs, like all mountain ranges of the chalk formation, are rounded in their form: in their original state they are covered with a fine close turf, velvet-like to the feet, and which affords fine pasturage to a race of sheep no less remarkable for the fineness of their wool than for the excellent mutton into which they are converted, and which is thought to owe much of its flavour to the herbs and fine grass which cover the surface of the hills. Although destitute of trees, except on their northern side, the Downs possess beauties peculiarly their own in the long serpentine lines into which they fall, the variety and harmony of their colours, passing from blue through grey to the warmer tints of pale yellow, green, orange and russet, and in the bold and ever-changing masses of shadow which traverse their steep sides as the sun pursues its course. A fresh invigorating breeze always prevails on the Downs, even during the hottest season of the year, hence they are much resorted to for equestrian exercise. Here are also traces of a Roman station and encampments. The soil on which the town is built is of two kinds; that of the eastern portion is chalk formation, while the western part is the termination of a bed of plastic clay, extending many miles in that direction.