Conservation work re-starts at Royal Victoria Country Park’s historic chapel

Conservation work has re-started on the historic chapel at Hampshire County Council’s Royal Victoria Country Park, with new contractors on site

Mar 6 2017

RVCP contractor
Work was temporarily halted on the Grade II* Netley Chapel in August 2016 after the former contractors went into administration. 

Brymor Construction Limited, based in Waterlooville, has been appointed to continue the work which re-started on 6 March, as part of a £3.2 million project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the County Council to conserve the chapel and improve facilities across the country park.

Councillor Andrew Gibson, the County Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside, said: “We were naturally surprised and disappointed to hear the unexpected news about our former contractors who had only just begun works on-site back in August. 

“The Heritage Lottery Fund has been very supportive throughout this process and we’re pleased that the project is now back on track. The new contractors will be restoring the chapel to its former glory, with new facilities for visitors to enjoy its fascinating history.”

The 19th century chapel is the last remaining part of what was once the world’s largest military hospital, which was a personal project for Queen Victoria who laid its foundation stone.

Built with 30 million red bricks from 1856 to 1863, the Royal Victoria Military Hospital could care for up to 1,000 troops from across the British Empire on its 138 wards linked by quarter-of-a-mile long corridors. 

But after the Second World War the hospital fell into decline and was demolished after a major fire in 1963 destroyed large parts of the building. The site was later bought by Hampshire County Council and re-opened in 1980 as Royal Victoria Country Park.

The conservation work to the chapel will include the replacement of the original ornate and hand-painted glass windows that have been broken and vandalised. New staircases and an accessible lift will be installed to significantly improve the currently limited public access.

Following these works, a new exhibition will be created in the main body of the chapel to tell the story of the former hospital, from its beginnings in the 1850s, through the Boer War, and both World Wars - to its current status as much-loved local country park, including important medical advancements made at the site, such as the discovery of the vaccine for typhoid.  

New displays highlighting the fascinating history of the site will also be located throughout the park, including ones to mark the four corners of the former hospital to show the scale of the once vast building.

The chapel will re-open in summer 2018.