Externally, it has many distinctive features including Downland flint cobble walls, a cedar shingled bell tower and a remarkable suite of stained glass memorial windows. As an asylum church, it was designed differently. Unusually for a church of its size and period, it has a substantial narthex, which was created to ensure the separation of male and female patients and facilitate an enclosed link to the ‘quiet spaces’ at the extreme west end of the church which were used by agitated patients during services. At its peak, Graylingwell accommodated over 1000 patients and its chapel was at the centre of this community providing both a worship space and a vital place for private prayer and reflection.
Graylingwell Hospital stands at the northern edge of Chichester, 2km from the city centre. The 30 hectare site is designated as a Park, a Conservation Area that contains two Grade II listed buildings (including the chapel), a Scheduled Monument, 472 protected trees and a clutch of important landmarks including a Water Tower, a Clock house and the Asylum Superintendent’s house. This project seeks to create a heritage hub within the chapel which narrates, interprets and connects these scattered elements. Not only will it use the built heritage to achieve this, but the project will scope in historic artefacts from organisations and individuals, original artwork and oral histories all rooted in the lives and experiences of the people who resided and worked at Graylingwell during its 100 years as a psychiatric hospital.
Our project will transform Graylingwell Chapel into a state of the art community heritage facility that draws on and showcases the unique history and story of the building and the wider Graylingwell site.
“A good, intact example of a large, detached asylum chapel of 1895-7, almost parish church like in scale, designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield, with fine stained-glass windows. The separate male and female entrances, as well as the small rest rooms identify its specialist original function. It is an important feature in the hospital grounds, which are registered as an historic park.”
– Extract from Historic England’s Listing
Selection and purchase of Graylingwell Farm as site (148.5 acres owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and 90 acres by Mr Martins – Martins Farm) Design by Architect Sir Arthur Blomfield
Construction begins (Builders James Longley & Co of Crawley who had also built Graylingwell Farmhouse 100 years previously)
Opens for treatment of West Sussex mentally ill paupers- Dedication of the Chapel 3rd August 1897
Layout of the Park supervised by Robert Lloyd
Cedar of Lebanon donated by Duke of Richmond
Fawcett, Edgeworth and Eastergate wards added (+315 beds)
Hospital requisitioned for the treatment of war wounded WW1
Additional buildings (Pinewood Lodge/Summersdale Villas
Summersdale Block requisitioned to treat war neuroses WW2
Transfer to NHS
Sale of farm livestock at Graylingwell
Regional Hospital Board closes all farming and gardening activities at all mental hospitals
Graylingwell initiative (unsuccessful attempt to fund new facilities from sale of hospital and park)
Creation of Sussex Weald and Downs Trust
Private Finance Initiative contracts signed
Closure of Graylingwell Hospital and subsequently the Sussex Weald and Downs Trust
Centurion mental health facility opens
Explore and learn
We are building up a library of information about Graylingwell Chapel. You can learn more about the chapel and its role in Graylingwell Hospital through the following booklets: