All Saints Hospital, Eastbourne – a heritage conversion success

Visiting Eastbourne with a heritage colleague recently we were struck by the stunning conversion of All Saints Convalescent Hospital in the Meads area just below the cliffs.

Erected in 1869 by architect Henry Woodyer in high gothic style, All Saints Hospital was the vision of Harriet Brownlow Byron, Mother Foundress of the Community of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, to provide the first purpose-built seaside convalescent hospital in Great Britain. The All Saints Sisters tended their patients and establised a philosophy of care which continued for over a century.

This former Grade II listed hospital is contained in around 10 acres of grounds, not unlike the Brighton General Hospital in size and scale, and was cleverly converted after its closure as a hospital in 2004 by Berkeley Homes.

Without obvious compromise to the historical integrity of the exterior, Berkeley managed to fit in additional floors and still ensure that all residents had their share of large windows and high ceilings. Sensitive additional units were discreetly and almost seamlessly inserted in the gaps with a range of handsome garages by the gate house, which may or may not have originally comprised a stable block, as far as the untrained eye is concerned.

We spoke to a couple of residents there, one of whom had lived there for around ten years and they couldn’t have been happier. They said there was a real community feel to the place.

There are 105 housing units in all with the chapel separately owned and maintained as a special event venue and community space for hire.

What a wonderful example of what can be done with a former hospital!

Let Brighton & Hove City Council take note when Brighton General Hospital site becomes available.

Allsaints 1 Allsaints 3 Allsaints 5 Allsaints 6 Allsaints 8 Allsaints 9 Allsaints 10 Allsaints 11 Allsaints 13 Allsaints 14 Allsaints 15 Allsaints 16 Allsaints 17 Allsaints 20 Allsaints 21 Allsaints 23 Allsaints 24

Save Brighton General Hospital buildings!

Brighton General Hospital 2 Brighton General Hospital

One of the last remaining workhouses in Britain, erected in 1865, Brighton General Hospital sits atop the hill of Elm Grove. It is currently at risk of either full or semi-demolition to fund development of a shiny new ‘health hub’, or worse still, a bland housing development of several hundred units undeserving of a hillside position.

If you wish to save it as a hospital, please complete NHS survey here. Choose option 1 or 2 to see it restored or refurbished (the cheapest and greenest option as well as the most noble). It is not after all a shiny new facility which delivers good health care, but having sufficient doctors, nurses, equipment, building maintenance and nursing care. I am sure we have all visited someone in a shiny new PFI hospital where the level of care and attention is actually poorer than it was in the original hospital, often because there is less money left in the pot for actual patient care. In addition most hospitals have closed their nurses’ home or sold it off to developers when they used to provide affordable onsite accommodation for key worker nurses.

History of Brighton General Hospital documented here.

If Brighton General is to be lost as a hospital, the existing building would make a handsome flat conversion and would be much more affordable than a newbuild. In addition, there is more local demand for flats than houses.

Here is an example of a similar project involving a former London workhouse dating from 1770s which inspired Dicken’s Oliver Twist.

A previous plan for a new school seems to have been discarded but some have suggested that turning Brighton General Hospital back to its original purpose, but as a 21st century style ‘workhouse’ (aka rehabilitation centre/hostel), could be an innovative and very welcome alternative to the growing problem of street homelessness in the city.  Certainly Emmaus have previously expressed an interest in obtaining a city centre HQ/complex, and they provide full service and support for the vulnerable, getting them back into society, work and housing.