laurence olivier photography travel

By the Sea

Sunset on Brighton Pier
Carnival, Brighton Pier

There have been many photos taken since the last blog post. A fellow Vivien Leigh fan, Zsazsa R., came to visit from Hungary and we went to all sorts of fun Viv and Larry-related places. More on that in the next post!

For the past few days, England has been experiencing an Indian Summer. With temperatures in the 80s for the first time since April, everyone including me has been outdoors soaking in the vitamin D. On Friday I spent the day in one of London’s largest and most beautiful Royal parks–Richmond! It was so nice to walk along the paths and see the giant deer laying in the grass and swans in the lake. Saturday, my friends Riikka, Katie, Sergio and I decided to get out of the city and spend the day at the beach. It turned out that all of London had the same brilliant idea because although we got to London Bridge bright and early, the train was so crowded we had to stand for the entire journey.

Due to the overwhelming amount of people flooding the sidewalks in Brighton, we took the train to another coastal town called Seaford, near Lewes. Seaford is a former port town that is now used as a seaside resort. The beaches are rocky and the sea, of course, is actually the English Channel, so there aren’t really waves. But the water is nice and blue-green. The nearby countryside is the location of the Seven Sisters–seven chalk cliffs similar to the White Cliffs of Dover. It also served as a filming location for the end scene in Joe Wright’s Atonement with James McAvoy and Kiera Knightley, which Sergio and I attempted to re-enact.

After a jaunt up the cliffs for some photos, we headed back to Brighton to catch a spectacular sunset on the pier. Brighton is a beautiful and lively city, and Laurence Olivier was a significant figure here in his post-Vivien Leigh life. After marrying Joan Plowright in 1961, Larry left London and settled in Brighton to raise a family. The new Oliviers lived in 4 Royal Crescent, two houses Larry had knocked together to make a bigger home. He continued to spend much of his time up in London (he often travelled on the Brighton Belle train) but many an older person living in Brighton still has fond memories of seeing him with his kids at the playground by the beach (no longer there, sadly). Apparently he was a regular at some of the pubs and restaurants on the waterfront, as well. In 1970, he was made a Life Peer and became Baron Olivier of Brighton.

Whenever I go to Sussex, I am immediately reminded of two brilliant novels: Brighton Rock by Graham Greene (I always throught Brighton Rock was rock candy in the American sense, but it’s actually just a giant candy cane) and Watership Down by Richard Adams. If you’re ever looking for a great read, I’d recommend either of these books. They both capture fascinating, albeit completely different, aspects of southern England.

Kendra has been the weblady at since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

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Comments (11)

  1. I saw a programme on tv awhile back about the Brighton belle. And Laurence Olivier was in it the programme said about the complaint he put in about no kippers on the menu at one time. I don’t no if it is correct but I heard the kippers where put back on the menu. And next day on the belle he ordered scrambled eggs ha ha.

  2. Yes I saw that programme to Carole.i lived in Brighton in the 1970’s not far from where Olivier lived. I used to see him jogging along the promenade at times.

  3. Not many people recognized him as an actor he was a master of disguise. I think he also had another house near steyning Sussex called the . Malthouse and I think Joan plowright still lives there.i have heard she has retired from acting now because of bad eyesight problems.

  4. Nice photos of Olivier and Vivien Leigh. It was very sad I think their marriage ended. I don’t know if Olivier instigated the end of their union or Vivien Leigh. They did go on to form relationships with other people she with jack merivale and he with Joan plowright. I don’t know if they ever met much after the divorce perhaps someone interested in this thread can enlighten me please.

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