The Anthaeum of Hove

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The anthaeum 1833.jpg

The Anthaeum (also spelt Antheum or Anthæum) was an iron and glass conservatory planned by English botanist and landscape gardener Henry Phillips and designed by architect Amon Henry Wilds on land owned by Sir Isaac Goldsmid in Hove, a Sussex seaside town which is now part of the city of Brighton and Hove.

Conceived on a grand scale and consisting of a gigantic cupola-topped dome covering more than 1.5 acres (0.61 ha), the structure was intended to enclose a carefully landscaped tropical garden, with exotic trees and shrubs, lakes, rockeries and other attractions.

The scheme was a larger and more ambitious version of a project Phillips and Wilds had worked on in 1825 in Hove's larger neighbour Brighton, for which money had run out before work could commence. Unlike its predecessor, the Anthaeum was built: work began in 1832 and an opening ceremony was planned for 31 August 1833. Disagreements between the architect, the project engineer and the building contractor led to structural problems being overlooked or ignored, though, and the day before it opened the Anthaeum collapsed spectacularly.

Its wreckage stayed for nearly 20 years overlooking Adelaide Crescent, a seafront residential set-piece whose northern side it adjoined, and Phillips went blind from the shock of watching the largest of his many projects end in disaster. Palmeira Square, another residential development, has occupied the site since the late 19th century.

Further Reading

see,_Hove Filed under Engineering Failures - Collapsed Buildings