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Friends of St. Ann’s Well Gardens, Hove

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Parks : St. Ann’s Well Gardens, Hove


Friends of St. Ann’s Well Gardens

The aims are to promote the preservation, restoration, and improvement of St Ann’s Well gardens for the education and benefit of the public, by associating the local authority and local community in a common effort to provide facilities in the interest of social welfare for recreation and leisure time occupation with the object of improving the lives of local inhabitants.

The Friends of St Ann’s Well Gardens was set up in November 2007 to assist with the planning and delivery of the centenary celebrations in 2008. Since then, we have put on several events, produced two issues of our newsletter and regularly updated the website.

We work hard to raise money for improvements to the Park with support from Brighton & Hove City Council, the Park Ranger service and the gardeners.

We have a strong track record of fundraising. In 2012, we won £4,500 from BritVic towards the restoration of the Sensory Garden pavilion, which will be used as a resource for our events and by local schools. We also secured sponsorship for the Spring Festival from the new Montefiore Hospital. In past years we received £1600 from the Co-operative Community Fund towards the creation of a Historical Trail with weatherproof signs of old photos and pictures; and £600 from Brunswick & Regency Neighbourhood Action Group for a new bird interpretation board, and put in feeding stations for the birds.

The Chalybeate and Pump House
It was Dr Richard Russell (1687-1759) who first made St Ann’s Well famous by sending some of his clients to drink the water from a spring there (this is the same doctor who put Brighton on the map by claiming that drinking sea water was good for you!)

The Chalybeate (containing Iron) spring became known as one of the finest natural springs in the whole of Europe.

The water from St Ann’s Well was thought to be so good for you that in 1831 it was announced that sick people “to whom expense is an object” could be admitted to drink the water free on production of a medical certificate. A building was put up around the well to make a trip to take the waters into a more inviting experience; The Pump house for years was a focal point for activities in the Park, until its demolishment in 1935.

The Glorious Golden Age of St Ann’s Well Gardens
During the 1880’s the gardens were renovated and a series of interesting and sometimes eccentric characters took over the management of the gardens. At this time there was a charge to go into the “pleasure gardens” and there was a wide variety of entertainments on offer. There were regular open air concerts, musical tea parties, children’s fetes and there were also slightly more unusual attractions such as “The hermit in the cave”, a fortune teller (Gypsy Lee stayed in the gardens in her caravan for 15 years.) Daring Hot air balloon ascents and a Monkey house were just some of the other entertainments.

One of the Park’s most colourful characters, George Albert Smith (1864-1957) held the lease on the gardens between 1892 and 1904. Before he came to the gardens he was a hypnotist, illusionist, photographer and he gave lectures on astronomy amongst other things!

It was during this time at St Ann’s that he started making moving pictures and he is credited with being one of the founding fathers of the modern film industry. George built his own camera and film studio in the gardens, he shot the first ever close up, and helped to invent colour film. During this time activities in the park continued and George used the gardens as a way of making money for his film making.

From Private Gardens to Public Park
For years Hove council had wanted to buy the gardens so that it could be made into a public park, negotiations went on for years and in 1906 the gardens were offered to the council on a 100 year lease. Thankfully the sub committee recommended against buying the lease and finally in 1907, Mr d’Avigdor Goldsmid sold the gardens to Hove council for £10,000 which was incredibly generous of him (and very fortunate for us!) because he did have offers of £26,000 from local businessmen who wanted to build on the gardens.

On Empire Day (Queen Victoria’s birthday) the 23rd of May 1908 St Ann’s Well Gardens were finally opened to the public with much pomp and ceremony.

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Friends of St. Ann’s Well Gardens

aims
centenary celebrations 2008
events
fund raising
. . .
history

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The Friends of St Ann’s Well Gardens was set up in November 2007 to assist with the planning and delivery of the centenary celebrations in 2008. Since then, we have put on several events, produced two issues of our newsletter and regularly updated the website.

History source: The Story of St. Ann’s Well Gardens
Find out more about the history of St Ann’s Well Gardens in our booklet
“The Story of St Ann’s Well”
Pick up copy from the Garden Café or
buy it online – just £4.00 including postage

Across the city : Brighton Society : Regency Society


 

 

 

 

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