How a family saved a Victorian gem from dereliction

Sorry state ... how the interior of Fitzroy House once looked
Sorry state ... how the interior of Fitzroy House once looked

The saving of Fitzroy House, the former library in Lewes, is the subject of a forthcoming illustrated talk.

Eleanor Austin (nee Franks) will tell the story of the rescue and restoration of this Victorian gem.

This will be a unique chance to hear about the Franks family’s remarkable feat of saving Fitzroy House from a derelict state, and to see photopraphss of this process from the 1970s, shown for the first time.

This event will be on Thursday, September 13, at 7.45pm in Trinity Church, Southover, Lewes.

It is open to all – admission free to Friends of Lewes members, £3 for non-members. Tea and coffee will be available in the interval.

Gothic Fitzroy House dates from 1862 and was designed by renowned architect Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878), who also created the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station, the Albert Memorial, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

The library was built as a memorial to Lewes MP Henry Fitzroy.

The library was moved to Albion Street in 1958 and Fitzroy House became offices. When it was deemed not viable, it stayed empty for about five years and was partly demolished before an emergency preservation order and Grade II Listing instigated by the Friends of Lewes was approved to prevent demolition.