Brooker Hall

This week’s column is a milestone for me as it’s my 100th column for Latest Homes. It’s therefore only proper that I write about a building that is particularly special. No. 19 New Church Road in Hove fits that criterion perfectly.

The Vallances were a family of brewers who owned much of Hove. No. 19 New Church Road was built for John Olliver Vallance in 1877 and was named Brooker Hall after his father, John Brooker Vallance. The Prince Regent is said to have stayed with John Olliver Vallance’s grandfather, John Vallance (confusingly), at the family home, Hove House on Hove Street. Both Vallance Gardens and Road, named after the family, were built on its grounds but soon afterwards it was demolished to make way for the Hove Manor block of flats. The Vallances claimed to be related to Aymer de Valance – the most famous of the Earls of Pembroke and a close relation to Henry III – and named Aymer Road and Pembroke Gardens, Crescent and Avenue in his honour when they developed their estate.

Thomas Lainson, the surveyor of the Vallance Estate, was the architect responsible for Brooker Hall and, indeed, many of the buildings in the area. He designed lots of great buildings around Brighton & Hove including Middle Street Synagogue, Norfolk Terrace, Adelaide Mansions and the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Brooker Hall was built very much in the style of Osborne House in the Isle of Wight, Queen Victorias’s favourite retreat. Shared features include belvederes (towers), arched windows and corbelled eaves. The Green Man is an interesting detail which has been incorporated into decorative elements on the front of Brooker Hall. It appears as a small face with an odd expression above foliage; not green at all actually. It is normally found in old church carvings all around Europe – certainly not on houses in Hove. Brooker Hall opened as a museum in 1927 after being purchased by Hove Council following the death of Mrs Brooker (the wife of John Olliver Vallance).

Brooker Hall, now known as the Hove Museum & Art Gallery, is well worth a trip – like all of our local museums. Unsurprisingly, I recommend the section on local history. The Jaipur Gate, which is set in the museum’s grounds is truly something and will get a column of its own soon. For more information on the museum, see www.hove.virtualmuseum.info or call 01273 290200.