the county times 04|05|07
Last update: 18|06|07
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After the destruction of Beedingwood House, a journalist quickly discovered my tour of the old mansion, and asked if he could use a photograph or two. After a phone call, I'd given him some interesting background about the house I'd not previously published, plus permission to use my photographs gratis. (I don't believe in making a profit from the destruction of the house).

Little did I know that it would make the front page.

(Many thanks to Pete for the paper).

Inferno Wipes Out Historic Mansion

Fire destroyed an historic Victorian Horsham mansion on Saturday morning.

A team of more than 50 firefighters ackled the blaze at Beedingwood House, in Forest Road, Horsham, at 7.30am.

But the gutted former asylum for low level mental conditions was razed, leaving behind a mountain of rubble.

Closest neighbour Charles McNeil, 50, premised and ground mamager at next door Roffey Park Institute, told the County Times of a huge blaze that tore through the building, gutting its rooms and leaving behind just bricks and charred timber.

"There was a command post set up by the emergecy services in Bylands car park outside by house," he said.

"It was a major blaze when it was at its height."

"There were ten to fifteen emergency vehicles here and lots of firefighters."

"I think the operation was mostly a cast of containment."

"It's a real shame that the building has burned down because it was a magnificent house in its time."

"It's lucky it didn't do any damage to anywhere else."

"You can see my house through the trees, it's only 25 metres away and the house on the other side is only 50 metres away."

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service told the County Times the house was in a very poor condition. It has a number of missing floors, making it dangerous to go inside.

Fire crews, which came to the scene from Horsham, Partridge Green, Crawley, Shoreham, Hurstpierpoint, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill, spent four hours containing the fire and making sure the flames did not spread to nearby houses.

Emergency services were still at the scene late into the evening.

At first it was feared people were trapped inside the house, but emergency services soon discovered this was not the case.

Police said they closed Forest Road and access was only granted to residents until the road was opened on Sunday April 29th at 11am.

Inferno Wipes Out Historic Mansion

Beedingwood House was built in the mid 1890s for former Sussex County Cricket Club chairman and deputy lieutenant of Sussex Edward Harvey OBE.

Rev Harvey lived at the plush house with his wife Constance, their five children and 20 domestic staff. But a series of family tragedies hit the Harveys and the house was sold after Mr Harvey died in 1938 at the age of 80.

The building was used as a groundbreaking rehabilitation centre of people with low level psychological disorders brought on by the Second World War.

Bu 1946 landlords The National council for the Rehabilitation of Industrial Workers had redeveloped the old stables and dairy into a research and training institute, to become the Roffey Park Institute, still next door today.

In 1981 Beedingwood House was closed. The house was sold in July 1994 and in a state of disrepair and it became derelict beyond repair.

It latterly became a popular site for urban explorers - people whose hobby is getting into abandoned buildings.

Some even used Beedingwood as the setting for a short horror movie.

Simon Cornwell, from Hertfordshire, told the County Times he had put his photographs of the derelict building on the Internet, and ws then contacted by campaigners from the charity SAVE Britain's Heritage.

He said: "They wanted to know the location of the house, and perhaps try to save the building themselves. Obviously nothing came of it."

"It was a wonderfully eccentric building and I'm saddened to hear of its loss; no doubt it'll be replaced by a mdern, conformist and, above all, dull set of houses."

Mr Cornwell's website is Another enterprising explorer has created a website tour with a tour of the mansion at

Tim Raw
County Times
4th May 2007

Sad Descrution Of Once Grand House

How sad it was to learn of the fire at Beedingwood. The neglect of this once grand house had been a matter of concern to many, and its final destruction was an accident waiting to happen.

If I may add a little to your note on the house and the Rev E.D.L. Harvey. Beedingwood was built in 1876 and Harvey moved there in the mid 1890s.

He came from that wealthy sherry family ('Harvey's Bristol Cream') and did much good locally. He was a moving force behind the establishment of a new hospital for Horsham (a ward was named after him), and among may other duties was a member of West Sussex County Council, Horsham Rural District Council, and a chairman of Collyer's School governors, the local Conservative Party and Horsham magistrates.

But his life was touched by tragedy. Only one child out of five survived from his first marriage; an eight year old daughter died soon after the move to Beedingwood, a 13 year old son died from drowning while a pupil at Eton, and two other boys were killed in the first year of the Great War at Messines. They are commemorated by plaques in Colgate Church.

For readers who are interested, a detailed profile of his life has been published in the Horsham Society Newsletter (July 2001), and reprints are available from me at Arun House, Denne Road, Horsham, RH12 1JF. Just send a second class SAE.

The society website ( also lists the catalogue of over 170 articles on Horsham's past - people, places, events - and copies are similarly available.

Brian Slyfield
County Times
11th May 2007
Drawing by Horsham Society artist John Bray

See also: beedingwood | following the footsteps of john harris
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