Victorian Gothic former library built by Sir George Gilbert Scott up for sale in Lewes

Fitzroy House, Lewes
Fitzroy House, Lewes

An historic home in Lewes which was formerly the town’s library is up for sale.

Fitzroy House in Friars Walk is on the market with Graves Son and Pilcher for a cool £1m.

The property 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.

Eleanor Franks, whose parents Jim and Maureen bought the library to restore it, said when they took ownership of the building part of the roof had collapsed.

Her Dad Jim worked as a quantity surveyor and had completed a number of barn conversions.

He was asked by a member of the Friends of Lewes to carry out a survey on the building with a view to turning it into offices.

The conversion into office space did not pan out, but Jim and Maureeen decided to embark on the ambitious project of transforming it into a home.

What followed was a five year labour of love while the family worked on the project, with help from their friends.

Eleanor, who was leaving for university when the project got underway, said: “Dad had an opportunity for a new project and it was an interesting one. It ticked quite a few boxes for him.

“My father kept a journal and updated me every week about the progress that was being made.”

The memorial library was built for Lewes MP Henry Fitzroy by his widow.

It was built as the Fitzroy Memorial Library by a member of the Rothschild family.

The building remained a library until 1958 when the library was moved to Albion Street 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.

The unusual home, built in the Gothic Revival style for which Scott became known, has two floors with 2,800 square foot of space.

So what was it like living in a house like this?

“It’s surprisingly quiet because if has very thick walls so you don’t get as much noise as you would expect. It’s an interesting place to live. It is one of the most striking buildings in Lewes, if you like Victorian Gothic which I do.”

Scott was an English Gothic revival architect, associated with the design, building and renovation of churches and cathedrals, although he started his career as a leading designer of workhouses.

Fitzroy House, built in Gothic Victorian style, is probably one of Lewes’ most recognisable and unique buildings. It includes a large entrance hall with Gothic Victorian pillars and a tiled floor, a reception room with an octagonal building at first floor and an octagonal roof light highlighting the ornate clock tower.

There is a bedroom with an ensuite shower, a second bedroom, a study/third bedroom and a snug/fourth bedroom, a bathroom, WC/shower, a reception room measuring 36ft by 36ft, a kitchen with dining area, a first floor living room and a rear yard with off street parking.