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1858: Introducing the Haywards Heath Lunatic Asylum ... (later called St Francis Hospital)

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

Brighton Gazette - Thursday 27 May 1858


This building, now in course of erection, is situated on the borders of Hayward’s Heath, in a south-easterly direction from the Railway Station. The very extensive works, which were only commenced last year, have proceeded so rapidly, and have been prosecuted with so much vigour,—the fine weather of last year being of immense advantage in the furtherance of the works —that we think a few particulars respecting them may not be unacceptable to our readers.

The estate, on a portion of which the building stands, is about 119 acres, and was purchased by a Committee of County Magistrates for £50 an acre. The building has its entrance on the Heath, on which the back faces. The whole of the ground has a natural fall from the building, thereby insuring good and efficient drainage. The front faces the south, from whence the range of the South Downs are seen stretching along the horizon for about five miles, and the varied scenery at different parts of the day is absolutely enchanting, and will well repay a visit. It is admitted by all who have seen the spot to be the finest position in the county for such an asylum, and standing so high the building is a prominent object for many miles in every direction.

The brickwork, owing to the major portion of the bricks having to be made on the spot, was not commenced before June last, and in the course of last year the whole of the centre building, or officers’ quarters, and one wing, above 200 feet in length, were covered in, as well as an Infirmary for males. The style of architecture, chosen by the architect, H. E. Kendall, jun.. Esq., of 33, Brunswick Square, London, is Byzantine, with red, yellow, and black bricks, coped with Bath stone; the ornamental bands by running through the building have a very pleasing effect, and the general grouping of the different masses reflects great credit on the architect, who has spared no pains to make the building worthy of being classed second to none in the country.

The internal arrangements are carried out with a view to the comfort of the inmates, the building being efficiently drained and ventilated; each sleeping apartment for a single individual containing 800 cubic feet of air, with an opening for the admission of pure air at the option of the attendants. The whole of the foul air is being constantly driven off through air chambers built in the roof, to ventilating towers at each end, which are highly ornamental as well as useful, and which, below the roof of the main building, contain sleeping apartments for the attendants. There are also rooms provided for association, with a sleeping room between, for an attendant, and on each floor lavatories, baths, and closets. On the ground floor at the back, and running the whole length of the building, is a corridor, covered with glass, above 600 feet long; everything, including food, being carried to the part wanted, without going through the different apartments. In the centre of the building, on the ground floor, is a splendid hall for recreation —60ft. by 25ft. —well lighted, and lofty, in front of which is to be a series of terraces, following the fall of the ground, which will be laid out with walks for the use of the patients. The two water towers have tanks, each capable of holding 10,000 gallons of water, which will be kept full by a steam engine from a well in the centre of the building. Should that fail, there is a natural spring on either side of the building, running all the year round, which has always kept the farm well supplied in the driest season.

The centre of the building will be appropriated to officers’ quarters, the Governor, of course, having the lion’s share, and the two wings are to be capable of accommodating 400 inmates. In addition, infirmaries, workshops, bakehouse, brewhouse, washhouse, and sundry other numerous offices and stores are to be erected, several of which are in a very forward state.

The gas works for the building are to be built at the cast end, capable of supplying 500 lights.

As we enter from the Heath, on the left is a lodge for the gate-keeper, and on the right is the chapel, capable of containing 400, with a very ornamental tower, about 80 feet high, which is a prominent object and can be seen at a great distance. In this tower, provision is made for a clock with four faces. The inside of the chapel will be highly ornamented with carving, and party coloured bricks, with stained glass over the altar piece. The works have been carried out under the superintendence of Mr J. B. Heard, of London.

The original contract for the works was taken by Messrs. Rees and Ayers, of Dover, for the sum of £37,450; the engineering contract additional, amounts to £3,423. All the extras on the building, up to the present time, only amount to about £800. Of the £40,000, Brighton contributes, we believe, more than a third. At present we have sixty-four patients in Bethnal Green Asylum, chargeable to this parish, and one in another asylum.

The whole of the works are to be completed by the 1st March, 1859, and there is no doubt it will then be ready for occupation.


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