The Anthaeum of Hove - 1833

"In the summer of 1833, an unnamed artist settled down to sketch an ambitious new building that was nearing completion on a piece of land north of Adelaide Crescent in Hove. Artists' impressions such as this ink and wash drawing provide a visual record of life before the devel­opment of photography, and this example was particu­larly timely. Just a few weeks later - at the end of August 1833 - this vast iron and glass structure lay in ruins.

The Anthaeum, as it was known, was the brainchild of local botanist Henry Phillips. He envisaged a horticultural Eden, complete with exotic trees and birds, a lake and a rocky hill. Designed by architect AH.Wilds and engineer C.Hollis, it was to be a domed glasshouse measuring over 65 feet high and 165 feet in diameter. It was a huge logistical project for the 1830s: the structure was formed from around 500 tons of iron, which was shipped into Shoreham Harbour and then dragged to the site by teams of horses.

"The construction was fraught with difficulties and further hampered by professional disagreements. Wilds and Hollis argued that the dome needed a cen­tral, supporting pillar, but, faced with resistance from the contractor, both architect and engineer aban­doned the job. This proved disastrous. Before Phillips had sought further advice, the contractor removed the temporary support and, on 30 August 1833, the Anthaeum collapsed.

"Hundreds of people came to view the tangled remains, which stayed where they fell for another 20 years. They became an odd tourist attraction in their own right until they were eventually removed for the development of Palmeira Square."