Why 'laine'?

Photo:The five laines of Brighton Parish around 1740

The five laines of Brighton Parish around 1740

Word unknown elsewhere in England

By Arnold Whitehouse, former North Laine resident

The 'laine' in North Laine is a local word. It was applied only to agricultural land at the foot of the Sussex South Downs. The word was unknown anywhere else in England.

There were five 'laines'

Around 1800, when our area was almost entirely rural, there were five 'laines' outside the boundaries of Brighton. They were called East Laine, North Laine, West Laine, Little Laine and Hilly Laine. Besides being used for farming, these 'laines' sheltered sheep brought down from the Downs in the winter.

Word still used at the end of the 19th century

'Laine' was still in use towards the end of the 19th century. Bob Copper, in his book A Song for Every Season, describes the office of his grandfather, who was a farm bailiff in Rottingdean, in about 1880: "Behind the door, hammered up with a horse nail, was the annual Laine Acreage Sheet. The arable land was divided into 48 laines or fields..."

Name re-introduced by Kenneth Fines

It was Ken Fines of the Council's Planning Department who re-introduced the name 'North Laine' for our area. Having a name has helped give us a sense of identity.

[Originally published in the North Laine Runner, No 17, December 1978/January 1979; reprinted in No 200, September/October 2009]

This page was added on 08/10/2009.

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