So you want to live . . . in a former Victorian Hospital

Sounds a rather austere place to live, no?

Imposing, yes; austere, well only from the outside. Built in 1865 and part-designed by Florence Nightingale, it was the first of a new breed of spacious, well-ventilated hospitals, which was so successful it stayed open until 1978.

Is the whole hospital for sale then?

No, it was refurbished in the early Nineties then converted into an apartment complex with 229 units. Naturally, this was all carried out with a view to maintaining the period features of the property, which include a mansard roof, symmetrical façade, ornate decorative designs and angled bay windows.

What's the apartment like?

It's a three-bedroom unit (one has an en suite bathroom) with a spacious, high-ceilinged living room with original arched windows and a minimalist wooden kitchen and dining area. The view from the living room looks out on to large, communal landscaped gardens.

Are the gardens anything to shout about?

Well, they used to serve as grounds for the patients to roam in. The agent Johanna Proudlove admits that although they haven't fully shaken the Victorian hospital-grounds image, it is very tranquil and the walled surrounds make it secure (originally conceived to keep patients in, rather than interlopers out, presumably).

Any decent facilities within the complex?

Yes. One of the blocks has been converted into a rather well-equipped sports centre for exclusive use by the residents. There's a swimming pool, gym and even some tennis courts - perfect for those looking for a little more than a garden stroll.

How much?

The apartment, in the Royal Herbert Pavilion, London SE18, is for sale at £250,000 from Kinleigh Folkard and Hayward (020-8852 9451, www.kfh.co.uk). It's also available to rent at £345 per week.

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