A 165-YEAR-OLD chapel has been carefully moved as part of a redevelopment at a major hospital.

The Grade II listed chapel was part of the Barry Building at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, but was painstakingly relocated as the site is set for demolition to be replaced with a state-of-the-art clinical facility.

The project, which started in May last year and was completed last month, required a considerable degree of conservation expertise, moving delicate interiors without damaging them in transit and reinstallation.

The chapel was successfully deconstructed, transported and reinstalled into a purpose-built three-storey concrete superstructure in a new trauma, teaching and tertiary care building, which is set to open in spring next year.

The Argus: The chapel at the Royal Sussex County HospitalThe chapel at the Royal Sussex County Hospital (Image: DBR)

Teams from contractor Laing O’Rourke, construction consultancy firm McBains and heritage construction experts DBR joined forces to make the move possible.

Adrian Attwood, executive director at DBR, said: “Collaboration was key to this project’s success, with all parties working closely together, pooling their considerable skill, knowledge, and experience to overcome a unique set of challenges to deliver exceptional results, seamlessly and within tight deadlines.

“Testament to the attention to detail is that those visiting the chapel for the first time will have no idea that it has actually been physically moved from one site to another, and that is a huge achievement in conservation terms.”

Digital modelling and laser scanning was conducted to create accurate 3D models of the interior, with the fragility of listed materials taken into account during the construction work.

The chapel’s stonework, walnut panelling, organ pipes, marble and teak flooring, pews and pulpit were all delicately removed, with stained glass sent off site for conservation and cleaning.

The Argus: Light boxes were fitted behind windows to simulate natural lightLight boxes were fitted behind windows to simulate natural light (Image: DBR)

As the chapel now sits in the new building with no access to natural light, a series of light boxes were mounted behind the windows to simulate daylight, programmed to brighten and dim throughout the day.

Mr Attwood said: “It is important to remember that this was a turn-key project, so we had to consider every single aspect.

“It meant that once we handed back to the client, they could step through the door into a complete, ready-to-use structure.

“It meant no stone could be left unturned, an all-encompassing project which needs no further work.”

The Argus: The new building at the Royal Sussex County Hospital will open in the springThe new building at the Royal Sussex County Hospital will open in the spring (Image: DBR)

Joanna Elliott, lead chaplain, said: “The chapel has played such an important role in the spiritual welfare of patients and staff and the hospital for more than one and a half centuries.

“Before the project started, I could not see how the physical intricacies of it could be successfully moved, let alone how the spirit of it could be reinvigorated in an entirely new location, and then I was invited to view the completed project.

“My colleagues in the chaplaincy team and I have nothing but admiration for the tireless work that must have gone into bringing the chapel to life in this new building.

“It is an inspiration to know that this special place will continue to have a role in the life of patients, visitors and staff for decades to come.”