An Insider’s Guide to Hanover: ‘In 3 Words – Colourful Hilly Utopia’
The second in our series of Brighton Area Guides where we bring you the lowdown on each area of the city. A local takes you on a journey through their neighbourhood unveiling the hidden gems, interviewing other locals and divulging their favourite stops for day trippers and Brightonians alike.
An Insider’s Guide to
“A place for grown-ups who haven’t quite grown up at all”
(Although about Brighton in general, this David Arscott quote is particularly apt for Hanover)
Before I launch into Hanover’s hotspots, I should probably say a word or two about the community here. When I moved from the North Laine to this neck of the woods back in December, I stumbled upon a certain Facebook group.
Like most online community pages, I expected the odd moan and groan about drunken students and crap parking (and I wasn’t wrong – there’s plenty of that!), but our social-media savvy society offers much, much more. Not only do my 7,000+ neighbours help each other out during times of need (more on this later), but we also keep one another entertained on a daily basis.
Our favorite game is matching cars with houses; a sort of motor/home colour game of snap if you will.
The fun first started a year ago by Amaze charity fundraiser, Nicky Bagilhole, who smiled as she shared snaps of cars parked next to houses of the same colour.
One by one, the masses were converted and the game has now taken on a life of it’s own. Quite simply, we’re all at it! Even the kids.
But it isn’t just a game. Oh no. Like everything else in Hanover, it’s much more exciting than that. The best images are set to be made into a 2017 charity calendar, which will be distributed by Han[g]over favourite, The Independent pub, and all the money will go towards Amaze, a charity that supports families with disabled children.
So, yes, we’re all barking mad… but at least our insanity is making a positive difference!!
When I asked my fellow Hanoverians to describe the area and the people in it, in three words, I got inundated with responses: everything from “colourful hilly utopia”, “determined hill walkers” and “calves of steel”, to “overrun with cats”, “special dietary requirements” and “parking, barking and larking…”
One bloke simply said; “Constant, Dover, Geese” – a reference to three of the most popular pubs – which brings me on nicely onto:
Bobby Allen, owner of The Geese, a classic Brighton pub in the heart of the Hanover community, tells me that the place has a “great atmosphere with music left of centre”. Not only that, this pub also offers “good food, lots of gin and – best of all really – friendly locals!”
I’m sold. As I told Bobby, he had me at ‘lots of gin’.
Then you’ve got The Dover Castle.
Pop in here for thali nights, Sunday roasts and beers ‘n burgers. If you fancy a break from the footie, The Dover offers chilled out nights away from the chanting; no screaming at the ref in here. Or you can visit this long loved local on a Monday for a spot of open mic comedy.
Head to Islingword Road, and you’ll come across the Constant Service – and with it, you can have your fill of delicious beer, live music, great food and vinyl. The people working here are all dreamboats too…
For those hazy summer days, watch the sunset on the Setting Sun’s terrace. And when you’re picking up your calendar at The Independent (“an independent pub for independent minded people,” says co-owner Matt Russell), check out the exciting choice of non-mainstream beers, cool music (“spinning records from Elvis to Portishead and everything in between”) and fantastic, freshly produced food.
And since we’ve mentioned food…
No need to wander into town as Hanover’s where it’s at. Not only do we have an excellent selection of gastro pubs to satisfy those taste-buds (what I call ‘taste-pubs’) but we also have a great array of eateries; everything from Planet India to the Codfather (points if you can guess the corresponding cuisines?).
On one of my many walks around Hanover, I fell into Wild Cherry (that’s in the literal sense – it sits on top of what’s essentially a mountain). This place is awesome. Delicious food, great service and it’s definitely worth the stumbles, wobbles and grumbles required to tackle Albion Hill.
Islington Road is also home to two community favourite cafés: Fanny’s and Village.
Established in 2007, Fanny’s of Hanover specialises in organic and locally sourced fine foods. Enjoy your tea, coffee, hot choc, fruit juices, cakes, pastries, baguettes, rolls, sandwiches – you name it – in their peaceful outdoor decking area which is a real sun-trap and a great place for a bit of people watching.
Village is a fairly new addition to the Hanover couture café scene; the café-bar-pub opened in December 2015 after saving the historic building from being converted into flats and has a homely countryside feel. Here you can enjoy all day brunches, pub classics and drinks among the perfectly chosen decor.
Jess Woodfall from Village tells me that; “Hanover is a fun and tightknit community that looks out for each other”. As I innocently slurp my latte, she also mentions; “there’s an amazing selection of different pubs to choose from which makes it the best place to go on a pub crawl”.
Well, in the name of research and investigative journalism, I can confidently say that I did my homework, guys. That just goes to show how professional I am.
And, on that note…
MEAT N LIQUOR
Not the pop-up that made millions, oh no. Here, I’m talking about a not-so-secret wine cellar and a famous butchers (nothing to do with that Sweeney chap, thankfully) in Hanover.
For avid carnivores out there, Archer’s, the organic specialist butchers, is the place to go to stock up your fridge – once you’ve got your chops around their chops, there’s no going back. Located just off Elm Grove, this establishment has a great selection of quality meat. You can also pick up everything you need for a delicious breakfast; freshly baked bread, free-range eggs, fresh juice… Every time I walk by Archer’s, there’s always a queue, and that’s probably because the locals praise it for being “the best place to buy local grass-fed organic meat in Brighton.”
And for wine lovers, there’s a gem of a shop just on Queen’s Park Road. Now in its fourth decade, Butler’s Wine Cellar (described as “an institution” in its own right) can claim the title of Brighton’s Oldest Independent Wine Retailer. This family business offers the best available examples of carefully selected, realistically priced and exciting wines in a friendly, down-to-earth style.
This wouldn’t be an article about Hanover without the mention of the health food shops that keep those dietary requirements, specific to this neighborhood, in check. My personal favourite: the delightful Hilly Laine on Elm Grove, which only sells organic and natural products. The fruit and vegetables that line the shelves always burst with colour. And if raw veg can make you go ‘mmm’, then you know you’re onto a winner.
On the outskirts of Hanover you’ll find Corridor Gallery, which has a close association and deep affection for Hanover. “Our co-operatively run art gallery was founded by a group of local artists and Hanover residents,” says Lucy Kenward from Corridor Gallery. “Much of the project was formed in Hanover’s excellent array of friendly and welcoming pubs and cafes”.
In May, the Dover transforms into a temporary gallery, hosting no other than the ‘Cats of Hanover’ portrait exhibition. And in the same month, it’s time for the Artists Open Houses – and, I can honestly say, the Hanover trail is by far the best. A special shout out to The Blue House on Agnes Street – next year, be sure to pop over to soak up the ambience, enjoy their magical garden, open studio and Connie’s kitchen.
Earlier I mentioned the way in which Hanoverians support one another during times of need.
I’ve seen my neighbours post a plea for help when they’ve realised their car won’t start… and the response, as always, is overwhelming with men and women in their multitudes offering to bump-start the car in question. One of my neighbours mentioned that, because they were going away for the festive season, their elderly neighbour might not get a Christmas dinner because she doesn’t have any family. A cascade of comments followed with offers to share turkeys (and nutroasts of course!).
As such, I imagine the lady in question had to gratefully receive in excess of forty Christmas dinners. Then there are the times people put requests out for local tradesman; whatever the problem, someone is always there to help.
Without sounding too cheesy, home is where the heart is – and, for me, Hanover’s heart is bursting with a special kind of love for anyone who steps foot into the area. So stop by in the ‘colourful hilly utopia’ of Hanover and say hi!
Some useful links
For maps and general info: mybrightonandhove.org.uk/category
For a slice of history: mybrightonandhove.org.uk/page
For a bit of history and community events: hanovercommunity.org.uk/hanover-history/
For places to stay: stayintheheartofbrighton.com / brightonholidayhomes.co.uk / brightonholidaylets.com
For general tourist information about Brighton: tourism.brighton.co.uk / visitbrighton.com