TQ3322 : Cavendish House and Park East, Southdowns Park

taken 10 years ago, near to Bolnore, West Sussex, Great Britain

Cavendish House and Park East, Southdowns Park
Cavendish House and Park East, Southdowns Park
Cavendish House to the left between the two towers was once the administrative centre of the former asylum and was flanked by the male wards to the east, now Park East, and the female wards to the west, now Park West which is out of shot. Both have now been converted to residential use.
Former St Francis Hospital

Opened in 1859 as the Sussex County Lunatic Asylum on a high ridge with views to the South Downs in what was then the parish of Wivelsfield. Although positioned next to the then common of Haywards Heath nearly all the land acquired for building was purchased from nearby Hurst Farm which was later to become the asylum's farm. Designed by institutional architect Henry Kendall Jnr the building consisted of a central administrative area, now Cavendish House, with male and female wards branching off either side. A number of workshops and ancillary buildings were also included and added to over the years. With the building of Graylingwell Hospital in Chichester it became East Sussex County Lunatic Asylum in 1894 and when Hellingly was constructed in 1903 it became Brighton Borough Asylum then Mental Hospital. In 1948 its name was changed once more to St Francis Hospital. By then Hurstwood Hospital had opened on the grounds to the east which later evolved into the Princess Royal Hospital in 1991 which took over the running of St Francis until its final closure in 1995. Since then the buildings have been largely kept intact and converted into a series of luxury homes, apartments and flats which opened in 1999 as Southdowns Park.


Pete Cracknell - County Asylums (LinkExternal link )
Andrew Roberts - Index of English and Welsh Lunatic Asylums and Mental Hospitals (LinkExternal link )
Friends of St Francis Hospital (LinkExternal link )

Wivelsfield :: TQ3420

Wivelsfield is a Wealden parish located on a ridge that divides the watersheds of the Rivers Adur and Ouse. It lies to the south of Haywards Heath part of which was built in the northern part of the parish, and to the east of Burgess Hill whose eastwards movement is gradually encroaching on former fields. Both these towns are newcomers settlement wise owing their existence to the coming of the railway in the 1840s whereas Wivelsfield's first mention is in an 8th century charter whilst Bronze Age and Roman finds indicate even earlier origins of settlement in the area. Wivelsfield grew during the late Saxon and early Norman period initially as extended pastures for pannage by a number of manors to the south. One of these based at Stanmer eventually owned the eastern portion of the parish until the 14th century. However, settlement tended to be of small farms often grouped together rather than a central village and with the growth of a number of commons dwellings would often be found round the fringes a legacy that is still marked by the two distinct areas called Wivelsfield and Wivelsfield Green, as well as smaller hamlets lying on the border of the old Haywards Heath to the north, Valebridge Common to the west and Ditchling Common to the south.

A wooden church was built in the current location next to a thousand year old yew which may suggest earlier use as a pagan worship place and replaced by a stone building around 1050 though at this point the area was regarded as an outlier of Ditchling and did not become a parish in its own right until around the 12th century. As the area prospered during the middle ages the church was extended.

As a settlement originally based on the principle of droving a number of ancient routes cross the parish. The current B2112 is an old drove road as a portion of the A272 which crosses the northern edge of the parish whilst the minor route to Plumpton is a medieval highway. A number of lanes and footpaths are also of some antiquity. The B2112 also became part of an 18th century London-Brighton turnpike which is still used as the route for the modern day bike ride between the two. The eastern branch of the River Adur runs through the western side of the parish from its source on Ditchling Common whilst a tributary of the River Ouse, Pellingford Brook rises near Cleavewater Farm before heading east. Wivelsfield does have a station on the London-Brighton line but it lies outside the parish in modern day Burgess Hill.

The parish still retains its agricultural air though the growth of Haywards Heath during the late 19th century meant some urbanisation to the north on the old Wivelsfield portion of Haywards Heath common, this part along with the former St Francis Hospital built as a lunatic asylum in 1859 were transferred out of the parish in 1934. The growth of settlement within the parish has centred around Wivelsfield Green which straggles along the road to Chailey's North Common. The area around the church, which was never very big, remains some distance away.

P.Brandon - The Kent & Sussex Weald (Phillimore, 2003)
P.Brandon - The Sussex Landscape (Hodder & Stoughton, 1974)
H.Warne (ed) - Wivelsfield; The History of a Wealden Parish (Pier Point, 1994)

Victoria County History LinkExternal link
Wivelsfield Parish LinkExternal link
Wivelsfield Parish Church LinkExternal link

Tithe Survey 1843 (East Sussex Record Office TD/E 23)
Ordnance Survey 6 1875-1992 LinkExternal link
Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 (1974)
Ordnance Survey One Inch Map 1813-19 (Cassini Timeline Maps)
Haywards Heath, Cuckfield and Burgess Hill District Map (Barnett's, c.1972)
East Sussex Street Map (A to Z)

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TQ3322, 79 images   (more nearby search)
  (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Saturday, 30 April, 2011   (more nearby)
Sunday, 1 May, 2011
Hospital (converted)   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 337 228 [100m precision]
WGS84: 50:59.3665N 0:5.7844W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 337 228
View Direction
Northwest (about 315 degrees)
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