The 1.75m freeloaders: Squatters take over King Edward VII's Brighton mansion

Squatters couldn't believe their luck when they discovered the glorious Fife House, in Brighton, East Sussex.

This building, dating from the English Regency period (1795-1837, a period In English history noted for its distinctive literature, fashions, architecture, politics and aristocratic excess), was once fitted with a "King's loo" for visits by King Edward VII, who was Queen Victoria's son and reigned from 1901 to 1910.

The squatters have pinned a notice in the porch declaring their legal rights under Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

The 1.75m freeloaders: Squatters take over King Edward VII's Brighton mansion

By Daily Mail Reporter
10th December 2008
Daily Mail

King Edward VII, 1902

A band of squatters has taken over the country's finest Regency home, complete with a 'King's loo' fitted for visits by Edward VII.

Neighbours fear the Grade I listed property worth 1.75million, in Brighton, East Sussex, will be damaged by the intruders who moved in over the weekend.

The five-storey home, which has six bedrooms and was recently restored, has been taken over by up to 12 squatters who are refusing to leave.

Palatial address: Up to 12 squatters have moved into Fife House in Brighton

Plush surroundings: The squatters are refusing to leave the extravagant Regency home, as they get enjoy such comforts as the sitting room, above

They have pinned a notice in the porch declaring their legal rights under Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

One of the squatters, who refused to be named, said they had been issued with a county court summons to have them removed.

Speaking through the letter box, the man said: 'No criminal offence has been committed.

'We understand the listed status of the building and are thus extremely careful to ensure no damage will come to it.

'We have temporarily found ourselves with nowhere to lie in the present economic climate.

'We would like to put our neighbours' minds at rest by assuring them that we are not damaging the property, having parties or causing any anti-social behaviour.'

The squatters, who have not been identified, are using the recently renovated bathroom above, which originally had a 'King's loo' for visits by Edward VII

Squatter's dinner: The dining room in Fife House, where the squatters have assured that they will not be having parties

The house, with sea views, was built in 1829 as a palatial bachelor pad for the sixth Duke of Devonshire, and designed by architect Thomas Cubitt.

It was lavishly refurbished in 1848 by the architects who worked on Brighton's Royal Pavilion for the Prince Regent.

After the Duke's death, the property was bought in 1896 by Princess Louise, the daughter of King Edward VII, and her husband the Duke of Fife - who named the property Fife House.

The King was a regular visitor and stayed there while convalescing in 1908. The princess even had a toilet fitted for him with a columned porcelain pan and mahogany cistern which is still there today.

Stunning: The bachelor pad for the sixth Duke of Devonshire was built in 1829 with sea views

The home boasts a Portland stone staircase, a magnificent weather indicator hanging in the main hall, two wine cellars and a belvedere balcony.

The property, in Lewes Crescent, was bought in 2002 for 3.4million by multi-millionaire businessman Patrick Naughton.

The 50-year-old bachelor, owner and co-founder of communications firm TelecomOne, planned to spend 100,000 on refurbishments.

Estate agents Strutt and Parker said that the property had been standing empty for months since it was repossessed, but refused to say who it had been repossessed from.

We will not be moved: The freeloaders claim 'squatters rights' in these two notices pinned to the outside of the mansion. They state that they have every right to live in the Brighton house

It was recently sold to new owners, whose identities are unknown, for 1.75million.

Neighbour Dr Aileen Hopkins said: 'I am horrified to find that this lovely Regency building is now occupied by squatters.

'The Duke of Devonshire, the Prince of Wales and other royalty and notables used this house as their base in the 19th century when visiting Brighton.'

Another neighbour, Joan Green, added: 'I cannot believe these freeloaders think they have a right to live in this stunning house.

'I am just prying they respect it inside and don't throw wild parties because it is a huge part of Brighton's history.'

A Sussex police spokesman said officers had not visited the property, but had been alerted to the squatters' presence.

'Legal proceedings have to be undertaken by the property owners. It is a civil matter,' the spokesman said.
It would have been nice if the article had focused less on the notion that a king would have a bathroom, and more on whether or not there is legal basis or precedent for squatters to take it over.