LIFELINE FOR DERELICT KENT MANSION
A mysterious derelict mansion with sprawling grounds hidden by thick woodland on all sides; you could live two miles from the former Legat’s School of Ballet and not know it was there.
Now this Grade II-listed Victorian mansion near Rotherfield has made it onto the Victorian Society’s 2018 Top 10 Endangered Buildings list. Built by architects George Goldie and E. W. Pugin in 1865 as St Michael’s Orphanage for Girls, it was paid for by a donation from the Duchess of Leeds and run by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus as part of a pair, with the boys’ orphanage at nearby Mayfield.
Its most famous incarnation was as a ballet school founded by Nadine NicolaevaLegat in the 1970s. But in the early 1990s it was bought by the charity Jameah Islameah and run as an Islamic school, before it was raided by police in 2006 on the suspicion that it was being used as a training camp for terrorists.
Since the school closed in 2007 it has remained unused and declined – until the national architecture charity stepped in.