Hugh Bonneville opens new community space at Graylingwell Park

The Chapel at Graylingwell Park was officially opened on Friday by the acclaimed actor Hugh Bonneville in front of an audience of sponsors, patrons, friends and volunteers.

Graylingwell Park is a multi-award winning development being delivered through a joint venture between Vistry Group, formerly Linden Homes, and Clarion Housing Group.

The scheme is transforming a derelict former hospital site into a thriving new neighbourhood with more than 750 homes of mixed tenures alongside community spaces and sports and retail facilities.

One of these community spaces is Graylingwell Chapel, which has been renovated to create a place for local people to come together, with the new design incorporating fascinating insights into the lives of staff and patients at Graylingwell Hospital throughout the 20th century.

The Chapel was a place of quiet reflection for staff and patients of Graylingwell Hospital, initially known as the West Sussex County Asylum, until its closure. In 2019, Clarion and Vistry Group transferred the Chapel to the Chichester Community Development Trust (CCDT), an independent charity that has raised almost £2m to transform the building into a café, meeting and workshop rooms, children’s play area and open space used by the community during the day, and functioning as an events space in the evenings.

The refurbishment of the disused Chapel was made possible thanks to the support of both national and local organisations, including £1.3m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to ensure the legacy of the hospital was retained, and the stories of its history told. Further support was provided by Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group, as well as many other partners.

Through its social value programme, Clarion Futures was also able to secure financial contributions from two of the Group’s contractors, United Living and Wates, to help furnish the Chapel and provide the finishing touches.

Phil Miles, Director of Clarion Futures, and Hugh Bonneville 

Phil Miles, Director of Clarion Futures and Trustee of the Chichester Community Development Trust, said:
“It’s been fantastic to see the creation of the community at Graylingwell Park over the years, and we’re delighted to have supported the renovation of the Chapel. Graylingwell Park is a great example of placemaking in action and we’re excited to see it continue to grow and flourish in the coming years.”

Hugh Bonneville said:
“The art of story-telling is something that has brought people together since time began, and I particularly love the way that history has been woven into today’s story at the Chapel, using Graylingwell Hospital’s past to help people feel better today. It was a pleasure to be a part of the work that has gone on in this community and to see this very positive project brought to life.”

Clare de Bathe, Director of the Chichester Community Development Trust, said:
“Opening the doors of the Chapel at Graylingwell Park is the culmination of many years of work from what feels like a whole village of people. It is our chance to thank the army of people – from the community members consulted initially on what facilities were needed in the area, to the design, build, architectural and labour workforce that made it happen; the volunteers and supporters that have cheered us along the way, lending a hand at every opportunity and the wonderful staff team at CCDT who have worked so tirelessly to bring this project to life.

“All of that positive energy that has been poured into the development can really be felt as you step inside. The building has its own innate ability to provide the sanctuary the Chapel was designed to create and we hope it will help many people to feel more connected – put simply to feel better, in these difficult times.”