St. Ann's Well Gardens, Hove


St. Ann's Well Gardens, Hove

St. Ann's Well Gardens is a park in Hove, East Sussex about half a mile from the shore. The park is renowned for its chalybeate (iron bearing) spring, which is now named St. Ann's Well.

In this case, the name "St. Ann" does not refer to any saint. Instead, the name was apparently based on a myth of Annafrieda, a Saxon lady whose lover was murdered. Her tears miraculously became the Chalybeate Spring which is now called St. Ann's Well. [There is [http://www.whitedragon.org.uk/articles/amemetiae.htm another St. Ann's Well] in Buxton, Derbyshire that is a hot spring, and a sacred spot] [ [http://www.exetermemories.co.uk/EM/Exeter_Breweries.html There was a St. Anne's Well Brewery in Exeter that appears to be unrelated] ] [ [http://britannia.com/tours/rhood/rhwellnott.html Another St. Anne's Well] exists in Nottingham, although it was also called Robin Hood's Well] [ [http://www.megalithomania.com/show/site/1350 Another St. Anne's Well] is in Dublin County in Ireland] [ [http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/2022 Another St. Anne's Well] is in Dowally, Scotland]

Description

St. Ann's Well Gardens has many native and exotic trees. It also has a scented garden that allow the visitor to experience many different smells. Here is a quote from visitor Hugh Lavelle [ [http://www.mmhistory.org.uk/sept_98/pro1_hl.html Hugh Lavelle is a registered nurse in Brighton and a member of a multimedia history project] ] ::"You enter the garden through an archway, which opens into a square, with a guide rail around the pathway which goes around the centre lawn. The garden is intended for the partial sighted, hence the touchy/feely plants and the scents. I visit here mainly for the peace and quiet, plus when the flowers are out the garden smells lovely."

St. Ann's Well Gardens has playgrounds for children. Dogs are forbidden in these areas. Lawn bowling ("bowls") has been available since 1925 (membership not required).

Facilities include:
* well-stocked fish pond
* sensory garden
* café
* restrooms
* eight tennis courts
* lawn bowling
* playgrounds
* dog-free areas
* conservation areas

History

Early history

The chalybeate spring in St. Ann's Well Gardens might have been known for many years. The [http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/index.cfm?request=c1001374 Brighton and Hove government web site] notes that the chalybeate spring in St. Ann's Well Gardens was the endpoint of a ley line. [Ley line hunting in the British Islands is a popular pastime among New Age enthusiasts, mystics, pagans, wiccans and others of that ilk.]

St. Ann's Well Gardens was part of the Wick Estate in the Middle Ages, which was a strip of land that extended inland to the edge of Preston manor. The Wick Estate was owned by the Stapley family from 1573 until 1701 when it was sold to a family of Brighton brewers, the Scutts.

Health spa established under the Scutts

There was a health spa named the Chalybeate Spa [ [http://steve.pickthall.users.btopenworld.com/ssx1867/brighton1867f.html "Kelly's Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 1867"] has an entry for "Chalybeate Spa (attached to the Wick), Wick hill" in its list of commercial enterprises] in Hove featuring the St. Ann's Well spring operating as early as the 1700s. At that time, the spring had considerably greater flow than it does at present. [ [http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/category_id__127_path__0p114p.aspx My Brighton and Hove | Areas | St Ann's Well ] ] [ [http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/page_id__6542_path__0p114p127p1248p.aspx My Brighton and Hove | Areas | St Ann's Well | Introduction to St. Ann's Well | St Ann's Well | Welcome to St Ann's Well ] ] In the 1760s, the Scutts made a number of improvements associated with the spring.Around 1800 an elaborate "pump room" was built over the spring, housing assorted facilities and accommodating the large numbers who came seeking therapeutic relief at that time. At the pumphouse at the top of the hill in the park, people could drink the brown waters of the spring (at some times of the year, the waters are closer to yellow).

This area became a popular destination, and some of them came to enjoy the Chalybeate Spa at St. Ann's Well. Many people came to the area to enjoy the shore, and other attractions. There were pleasure gardens at the Georgian and Regency Seaside Resorts in neighboring Brighton at the time. ["Pleasure Gardens in Georgian and Regency Seaside Resorts: Brighton, 1750-1840", Sue Berry, Garden History, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Winter, 2000), pp. 222-230]

In the early 1800s, the Reverend Thomas Scutt redesigned the pump room building. Rev. Scutt added a colonnade which was featured in many prints.

In 1825, Rev. Scutt sold off part of the Wick Estate. This land became the Brunswick Estate.

Goldsmid ownership

In 1830 the remaining land in the Wick Estate was sold to financier and philanthropist Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, who moved into the Wick Lodge. [The Wick Lodge was located just outside the southern edge of St. Ann's Well Gardens.] Sir Isaac Goldsmid was the first to create the gardens that now exist. When Sir. Isaac died in 1859, members of the Goldsmid family that inherited the Goldsmid Estate continued to develop the gardens and surrounding area.

A "Mrs. Fitzherbert" wrote that "....the waters have wonderfully improved my health and strength." after a visit to the Spa in 1830. In 1882 the Brighton Gazette wrote that St. Ann's Well was 'one of the finest springs in Europe'. However, the distance of the Spa from Brighton, competition from other facilities, and a slow decline in the flow of the spring lead to the spa's declining popularity, and it eventually closed. The fields around the spring were dug up to use in the local brick-making business. The places where the mud was removed to make bricks are still visible in the park.

mith's pleasure gardens

In 1894 (some sources give a date of 1892), George Albert Smith (1864-1959), a pioneer in the film industry, leased St An's Well Gardens from the Goldsmid family. He was devoted to commercially developing the gardens, which he named "St. Anne's Well Pleasure Gardens". Smith's pleasure gardens included novelties such as demonstrations of hot air ballooning and parachute jumps, a monkey house, a fortune teller and a hermit living in a cave.

In addition, Smith used the pump house as a film laboratory, and produced about 50 short films a year there. Some claim that this was the birthplace of film editing. Later, Smith had a glass house film studio built on the grounds.

In 1904, A. H. Tee took over the lease on St Ann's Well Gardens from G. Albert Smith, as Smith moved his film businesses to another site.

Public park

In 1908, the local authorities bought the gardens for £10,000 and the park was opened to the public on Empire Day in 1908.

There was a clock in front of the old pumphouse, donated by Mrs Flora Sassoon, widow of wealthy business man Sassoon David Sassoon of Ashley Park near Walton, who had relocated to Hove with many other members of the Sassoon family [the Sassoon Mausoleum in Hove was built in 1876 by Sir Albert Sassoon (1818 - 1896) as a family resting place but when there were no more burials after 1933 when it was emptied and sold, becoming first a furniture store, then a decorator's, a restaurant and now a club.] In 1913 Mrs. Sassoon also bought and donated the grounds which became the Croquet Lawns (now the lawn bowling facility). She also donated turf and croquet equipment.

Because the spring's flow had slowed, the pump room was demolished in 1935, and a mock wellhead was installed in its place. After the local government bought the park, neighboring buildings like the Grasshopper Cottage, near the bowling green, and the Wick Farmhouse were incorporated into the park, but these were demolished after the second World War. A Swiss chalet-style cafe was a bit rustic, and therefore was replaced by a modern building in the 1970s. These changes were met with some local protest, but to no avail.

References

External links

* [http://www.womenofbrighton.co.uk/florasassoon.htm A biography of Flora Sassoon from a website about women of Brighton]
* [http://www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.uk/index.cfm?request=c1001374 a description of the park with pictures]


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