LOOKING BACK: Recalling Eastbourne’s lost mansion

Chateau Beaurivage ... demolished more than 50 years ago
Chateau Beaurivage ... demolished more than 50 years ago

Who remembers Chateau Beaurivage?

The imposing mansion, which ended its days as Chateau Beaurivage, stood on the site of the present Gannet House, at the junction of Trinity Place and Compton Street.

Permission for its demolition was granted in January 1960 and the wrecking balls would have swung into action soon after this. In any event, it is not listed in the 1961 directory.

The house had at least three names over the years and was built around 1870, starting life as a convalescent hospital called St Margaret’s. When the hospital closed, it was converted to a private residence by Francis William Henry Cavendish, a relative of the 6th Duke of Devonshire, who lived here until his death in 1893.

The next owner was a widower, a retired industrial chemist by the name of Alfred Peek. These days the unfortunate Mr Peek would be described as ‘suffering from dementia’ but the 1901 census does not mince words and has him down as ‘a lunatic’ sharing the house with three domestic staff and two mental nurses.

He had had a successful career in Manchester as a chemist and inventor in the textile trade and died at St Margaret’s in 1902.

Apart from a few short-term occupants, the house stood largely empty until 1910, when it was re-named Redmont by its new owner, Harry Reid, a landowner and retired company manager who had made his fortune in Argentina. By now the staff included a chauffeur next door at Redmont Garage, the latter possibly the present Trinity Centre adjacent to Holy Trinity Church.

The 1913 directory shows Redmont unoccupied – the family having moved to Bayswater. Reid’s sons, Harry Redvers and Claude McLaren, both had distinguished careers as officers in the RAF.

The change to the third and final name, Chateau Beaurivage, suited the French look well and took place after its conversion to four flats in the early 1920s. To see the house and the surrounding area as it was in February 1920, enter EPW000084 into Google to be directed to the website of Britain from the Air.

This elegant house has been absent from Eastbourne’s street scene for more than 50 years and it would be interesting to know whether any former residents or their families have photographs or memories.

The above was submitted by Michael Ockenden of Eastbourne Local History Society from an article that appeared in a previous issue of the Eastbourne Local Historian.

For details of ELHS contact Diana Guthrie at dhguthrie@btinternet.com or by telephoning Eastbourne 419181.

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