Our History

Known early on as 'The Heritage Craft Schools and Hospitals for Crippled Children', the charity began in 1903, thanks to a lady called Grace Kimmins who was passionate about helping children with disabilities.

She took over a derelict former parish workhouse in rural East Sussex, and brought 7 disabled children from East London to their 'place in the country', where they could be cared for, medically treated and educated in what became the first purpose-built school for children with disabilities in this country. She secured patronage of royalty, aristocracy, affluent businessmen and the press, financing additional building work through appeals or as gifts.

With more than a century of history, the Heritage  has gone on to deal with a range of conditions such as tuberculosis, rickets, polio and those affected by the drug 'Thalidomide', even treating injured soldiers during both world wars.

Read more about Chailey Heritage and the convalesence of injured First World War solders on the East Sussex County Concil's First World War website here.

Chailey Heritage History

Little did Grace Kimmins know that her charity would grow into what is now a nationally-recognised disability charity, Chailey Heritage Foundation.

Click the pictures below to learn more 

Our Founder

Our Founder

This piece was written by our President, Verena Hanbury, MBE DL, Granddaughter of Dame Grace Kimmins.

World Wars

World Wars

A hospital for injured servicemen and blitzed babies was just one of the ways our services have been 'multi-purpose' over the years...



20th Century Progress

20th Century Changes

The special needs of children and young people in our care has changed a number of times over the years, but one thing remains the same: our adaptability.

Old Scholars

Old Scholars

Despite having long moved on from their school days, many of our ex-pupils remain in contact and visit us on the annual 'Old Scholars' Day'.

Working in partnership with

Chailey Heritage Foundation works in partnership with Chailey Clinical Services, part of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust. They provide medical intervention, clinical expertise and a range of therapies on-site for our children, young people and young adults.