A Unique Environment Enhanced and Preserved
The site of the King Edward VII hospital lies within the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which in March 2010 became part of the South Downs National Park, and the core area of the site adjacent to the hospital is listed as Grade II in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historical Interest in England.
The sanatorium was laid out with extensive ornamental gardens and was set in pine woodland on a well-drained, south-facing hillside, about 200 metres above sea level. The medical theories of the time, for tuberculosis patients, advocated open air treatment in clear, unpolluted air. A carefully regulated regime aimed at treating early stage consumptive patients was prescribed, composed of measured quantities of rest and varied exercise combined with a good diet.
The exercise element was to consist largely of gardening and walking in the grounds along an extensive series of ‘measured walks’ through the surrounding woodland. This woodland and the site’s natural topography was a vital asset to the hospital as gentle walks in the ‘health giving resinous aroma’ of pine forests were specially recommended for consumptive patients. The measured walks were planned so that the medical superintendent, Dr Bardswell, could prescribe ‘the right walk with proper gradient for each degree of lung power’.
Today the site of the King Edward VII Estate supports a diverse mosaic of habitats. The site is primarily composed of a variety of broad-leaved semi-natural woodland and large areas of coniferous plantation woodland types, surrounding the roads, car parks and formal gardens of the former King Edward VII Hospital. Within the site there are also interesting patches of heath land and acid and amenity grassland. This diverse habitat mosaic supports a wide variety of plants and animals. To the west the site borders Woolbeding and Pound Common Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This is an important area of lowland heath which supports a rich and diverse invertebrate fauna and provides habitat for internationally important heath land birds.