Thomas Lainson, the surveyor of the Vallance Estate, was the architect responsible for Brooker Hall and, indeed, many of the buildings in the area. He designed lots of great buildings around Brighton & Hove including Middle Street Synagogue, Norfolk Terrace, Adelaide Mansions and the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

There were 9 rooms on the ground floor , 10 rooms and 2 bathrooms on the first floor , 6 rooms on the second floor which were probably servants rooms and attics , and a single room on the third floor which was the tower. There is also a large conservatory on the west side which is now the museum tea room.

When the house was originally built it stood in 4 acres of surrounded by farmland, market gardens and open country. It was twenty years before any development of New church Road sprang up around it. There was an uninterrupted view down to the sea and legend has it that the family took afternoon tea in the tower and admired the wonderful views of the English Channel.

The architect Thomas Lainson designed the house in an Italianate style made popular by Queen Victoria's Isle of Wight residence Osborne House.

The Green Man is an interesting detail which has been incorporated into decorative elements on the front of Brooker Hall. It appears as a small face with an odd expression above foliage; not green at all actually. It is normally found in old church carvings all around Europe - certainly not on houses in Hove.

The Vallances were a family of brewers who owned much of Hove. No. 19 New Church Road was built for John Olliver Vallance in 1877 and was named Brooker Hall after his father, John Brooker Vallance. The Prince Regent is said to have stayed with John Olliver Vallance's grandfather, John Vallance (confusingly), at the family home, Hove House on Hove Street. Both Vallance Gardens and Road, named after the family, were built on its grounds but soon afterwards it was demolished to make way for the Hove Manor block of flats. The Vallances claimed to be related to Aymer de Valance - the most famous of the Earls of Pembroke and a close relation to Henry III - and named Aymer Road and Pembroke Gardens, Crescent and Avenue in his honour when they developed their estate.

After John Olliver Vallance died in 1893, aged only 47, he left the house in trust to his 5 children who were all still underage and his widow continued to live there till 1913. However, the eldest son died after a fall from his carriage aged 21 and none of the other children wished to live at Brooker Hall.

The Vallance family moved from Patcham to Hove in the 1780s and John Vallance built Hove Manor in Hove Street. Born in 1759, he was an early cricketer and was in a match at The Level in Brighton in 1790 watched by the Prince of Wales. The Prince stayed at his home in Hove and presented him with an engraved punch bowl which became a family heirloom. John died in 1833. His family, which included several other men called John, was well known for its brewery in West Street, Brighton. Until recently a ward on Brighton and Hove City Council was named after the family and roads still bear the name. Vallance is buried in a vault in St Andrew’s Church Hove.

Brooker Hall, the original name for the museum building
c.1900-1905

It is thought the house became a military hospital for a short while.

1914 – 1918 During the First World War the building was used to accommodate German officer prisoners-of-war . Mrs R.R Jackson , a child at the time, remembers the distress she felt at the hostile attitude of the people who would gather outside the walls of the grounds and peer in.

In 1923 it was converted into flats. Finally in 1926 it was purchased by Hove Corporation for use as a museum for £4,000. The museum opened to the public on 2 February 1927.

In the grounds to the west of the house stands the Jaipur Gateway, which was presented to the town by the Imperial Institute in 1926 when the museum first opened. It was built as the entrance gateway to the Art-Ware Courts of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886, and was contributed by the Maharajah of Jaipur. The structure is surmounted by a gilded kiosk, whose purpose was to shelter musicians as they played. It was called a ‘Nakarkhana’ or drum house, and was usually found over the entrances to Royal residences or temples. Below the cornice the motto of the jaipur house is carved in Sanskrit, with a Latin and English translation: ‘Ubi virtus ibi victoria’,’Where virtue is, is light’ and on the opposite side: ‘ Ex oriente lux ‘, ‘ From the East comes light. The teak used in the gateway was cut in Bombay and sent to Jaipur to be carved by the Maharajah’s subjects.

The Gates in front of the museum belonged originally to Sir Percy Lorraine, who bought them in the late 1930’s . They are thought to be Georgian. They were provided for the museum by the Hove Art Collection Fund Association in memory of Major and Mrs Robert Woodhouse. They were officially opened by Princess Marie Louise on 2nd July 1953.

Brooker Hall remained as museum until 1966 when a distrous fire destroyed the old Gothic style Hove Town Hall which was designed by the great Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse. With nowhere else suitable to go, all the Council offices and staff were moved to Brooker Hall which was closed as museum for eight years.

In 1974 when the New Town Hall was completed, Brooker Hall was reopened as a
Museum and Art Gallery by Viscount Eccles, Minster for the Arts.