Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

The City of Brighton and Hove (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 33423 03434



577/55/10099 French Convalescent Home and attached wall and railings


Convalescent home. 1895-1907.Built for the convalescence of patients from the French Hospital in Shaftesbury Avenue, London and funded by the French Government. Architects Clayton and Black in a Francois Premier Revival style. It was built in stages as the money became available. The foundation stone was laid on 5th October 1895 by the Baron de Courcel, the French Ambassador, and the building was opened on the 8th October1898, also by the Baron de Courcel. The central part of the building was the first to be built and this was followed by the eastern Gambon pavilion added in 1904 (Gambon was the French Ambassador at that date)'and the West or Ruffer pavilion of 1907 (Ruffer was the honorary President of the French Hospital). Late C20 alterations including refronting, new liftshaft and demolition of chimneystacks. EXTERIOR: Built of Belgian stock bricks (now covered with cement render) with stone dressings, with steeply pitched slate roofs with metal cresting to the pavilion roofs. The specification called for suspended concrete flooring and secondary glazing with internal and external wooden frames to most windows on the South or sea facing side and many to the North side. Two storeys and attics: mainly mullioned and transomed wooden casements. North or entrance front has recessed centre with cornice and small triangular gable, 6 mullioned and transomed windows and central double doors with stained glass approached by an impressive staircase with balustrading and finials. This is flanked by two projecting pavilions with three windows to left pavilion and two to right with granite foundation tablets. Attached to these are recessed sections of one bay, then flat-roofed sections with mullioned and transomed windows and fire escapes and the elevation terminates with pavilions. The South or garden front has a central section of three storeys and attics 5 bays flanked by pavilions of 4 storeys and 3 windows. Central part is dated 1898 with lettering "FRENCH CONY ALESCENT HOME". Recessed central three bays have clock in finial to parapet above central window. Colonnade to ground floor with 4 round-headed arches. This formerly had pierced balustrading but this was filled in when the cement rendering was added. Projecting end bays have curved gables and two storey canted bays to the lower floors. Eastern or Gambon pavilion was the earlier pavilion to be built in 1904. Steeply pitched roof with cresting and corner turret and round-headed windows Ground floor has two lancet windows to chapel and four-centred arched doorcase with hoodmoulding and foundation tablet with date above. Cornice and bands between floors. Left side lift shaft was an original feature but was extended in height in the later C20. Ground floor room between centre and Gambon pavilion of 2 bays has parapet originally with pierced balustrading now covered over. Ruffer Pavilion of 1907 to the West is a mirror image with the difference that a liftshaft was later inserted to the right blocking earlier windows, the ground floor windows are rectangular mullioned and transomed casements and the central doorcase was converted into a window when the Billiard Room was subdivided. Attached to the North front is a low cemented wall with piers at regular intervals to the North and cast iron spear railings which extends around the garden. INTERIOR: Entrance hall in centre of North front at first floor level. Stained glass to front door and adjoining window. Oak well staircase with 2 turned balusters to each tread and square newel posts with ball finials. Ceiling rose and grille halfway up staircase. To the West of the front door is an attached bronze, probably French, of c190S in memory of Dr Achille Vintras the founder and chief doctor of the French Hospital. This has a central oval with bay leaves and inscription flanked by a sorrowing mother and children to the left and a nun with the plans of the French Convalescent Home to the right. There are two smaller circular plaques to an adjoining corridor and adjoining round-headed arched colonnading. Corridors have green dado tiling and glazed partitions and terrazzo floors are reported (floors now covered in carpeting). Many ceilings have late C20 acoustic tiles and have plain ribs where visible. Some original doors but many replaced in late C20. Chapel on ground floor of Gambon pavilion is of three bays with wooden brackets to the ceiling, wooden dado panelling and arched recess with marble altar which had a painted decoration now mainly covered over. There are four stained glass windows depicting The Virgin and Child, St Vincent and the Sacred Heart. Other communal rooms on the ground floor, the Dining Room and two Sitting Rooms, have minimal decoration but the central Sitting Room has a column with fluted capital. Wood block floors survive but the original fireplaces have been removed. The Kitchens retain black and white marble flooring. The original Billiard Room on the ground floor of the Ruffer pavilion has been subdivided. Wooden tablets to benefactors outside small Sitting Room. The eastern liftshaft is original but the lifts have been replaced. C20 glazed firescreen at the head of the main stairs. Smaller oak service staircase. Attics retain some original doors and original laundry cupboards. HISTORY: This is the only known French Convalescent Home in the country. The nuns were replaced by lay nursing staff in 1994. Even at the beginning it did not cater exclusively for French nationals and during the First World War it accepted British war wounded and received a certificate of appreciation from the War Council as a result. There is no other known example , of secondary glazing in England at this date although it was common on the Continent. The suspended concrete floors were not unusual in hospitals by this date.

Listing NGR: TQ3342303434


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 04 Jul 2007
Reference: IOE01/16842/07
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Colin David Broome. Source Historic England Archive
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