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Brooker Hall ,German Prisoner War Camp Hove.

Hove Museum & Art Gallery is a handsome, late 19th century Italianate Victorian villa originally called Brooker Hall. It was designed by architect Thomas Lainson and built for John Oliver Vallance. John Oliver died in 1893 and his widow continued to live in the villa until 1913.  The Hall was used over the next year or so to hold fund-raising events for injured servicemen.

The prisoners that were billet there were mainly officers, well that was what was told to the locals, in fact they were mainly ordinary ranks, locals would spend hours looking through the railings  to get a glimpse of the prisoners.                                   

There was also a scheme whereby POWs worked at Hove gas works[now Tesco] and the Germans were marched from Booker Hall to the site in Church Road daily. Great concern amongst the Hove residents of the dangers inherent in this! however apparently they were nowhere near the retorts but were moving the coal and coke!

Other prisoners were marched up Sackville Road to work in orchards.

Memories, National Archives. Kew.

There is a wide and growing number of sources from which the following are a selection.

My aunt remembers seeing German prisoners-of-war during this period. The men were kept in Brooker Hall, the building which now houses Hove Museum in New Church Road, and every day they were marched up Sackville Road to work in the orchards and fields to the north of the Old Shoreham Road.

“We could hear them chattering to themselves, but of course in those days they were Germans, you see, and they were our enemies, and one day we were chattering away, going past, and they must have heard us coming and, I expect, feeling very kindly towards these children, one of them bumped himself up the fence – you could hear his boots on the fence – and threw us some apples, some lovely apples, which we took into the [Hove] park but were frightened to eat because they might be poisoned, because the Germans had given them to us, you see, and that was our attitude in those days.” 1914 – 1918 During the First World War the building was used to accommodate German officer prisoners-of-war . Mrs R.R Jackson , a child at the time, remembers the distress she felt at the hostile attitude of the people who would gather outside the walls of the grounds and peer in.

The First Volunteer Battalion.

It manned the searchlight at Brooker Hall, Hove and guarded German prisoners of war at Lewes. The First Volunteer Battalion (1914-1919) The Royal Sussex Regiment ‘ Roussillon Gazette Vol. 21 (1934) 38-39, 83; ‘Sub VTC, 1914-18′,

The prison camp was closed in 1919, the prisoners being repatriated via Dover back to Germany.

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