Tower House

No, this photograph wasn’t taken in rural Sussex. Fantastic features such as a domed tower, symmetrical bays, elegant gables and an intricately detailed iron balcony at the rear, make Tower House Brighton’s finest Edwardian residence.
 
Modifications have certainly been made since Tower House, on the west side of London Road, was constructed in 1902 though, on the whole, the main building survives intact. It was originally one of two buildings that occupied a plot that was once known as the Strawberry Gardens, a pleasure ground opened in the 1830s. The second of the two properties on the site was called Tivoli, originally Shalimar, and was built a year after Tower House. The gardens, with tree-lined walks, shrubberies and flowerbeds were improved during the 1850s and renamed Tivoli Gardens. They were closed in 1888 when the land was sold to R. C. Gazeley, the owner of the neighbouring property, Elms Lea (now the Elms Lea Avenue housing development).
 
Tower House was designed for James John Savage by G. Burstow & Sons. Savage was a jeweller by royal appointment to Edward VII and the family monogram can still be seen above the front door. Unusual features included under-floor heating and a bath fitted with a shower – shocking!  Mr Savage died in 1922 aged 75 and Mrs Savage, renowned for her parties and charitable events, died in 1933 aged 81. The twelve-bedroomed property was then sold at auction for £4000 but soon after requisitioned by the army for the duration of the Second World War.
 
The next shock came in 1988 when Tower House was purchased by Cussins Green Homes with development in mind. It was converted into flats but got off lightly compared to Tivoli, which was completely demolished. The Robinia Lodge and Towergate flats, along with an adjacent terrace of houses, were built on the combined grounds. The green ivy that once covered Tower House has been removed and today the bright red bricks and wooden details are on display in their full glory. The building, including its fine conservatory, is in tip-top condition generally and now operates as the Tower House Day Centre, run by Brighton & Hove City Council.
 
I’m obviously not happy about the idea of conversion generally, but if such a measure saved this Edwardian masterpiece from a fate that was met by many of the neighbouring villas then I guess that I can live with it.