Built in 1913 as a memorial to Stephen Ralli, a member of a wealthy Greek family who had donated money to many causes throughout Brighton and Hove, it was used for about 60 years as a church hall linked to Hove’s parish church. The Brighton & Hove Jewish community subsequently bought it, and in 1976 it came back into use as a community and social centre for Jewish and other groups.
The Wrenaissance-style brick structure occupies a prominent corner site in a conservation area and provides a visual contrast to the older villas around it. English Heritage has listed the building at Grade II for its architectural and historical importance.
Architects Read and Macdonald of London designed Ralli Hall in a “restrained Renaissance style which has also been described as “Wrenaissance” (i.e. Edwardian Baroquewhich relies more heavily on English than French Baroque motifs). It has been described as an “important” local landmark and a “fine composition”.
The building is L-shaped and occupies a corner site facing Station Approach and Denmark Villas. The main entrance is to the latter; the hall then stretches back along Station Approach. This elevation (facing north) has 11 bays in a 2–1–6–2 layout, while the east-facing entrance wing is a symmetrical composition with a 1–3–1 bay layout. The walls are of dark red brick in the English bond pattern; the hipped roof has clay tiles and prominent eaves, separated from the walls by a clearly articulated dentil cornice of painted timber; and the windows have stone mullions and transoms with leaded light glass. Small brick walls and iron railings surround the building and are included in English Heritage’s listing. The building provides a contrast in age and architectural style to the well-spaced, well-detailed 1860s houses of Denmark Villas, with their pale brickwork and stucco.
The east (Denmark Villas) elevation is dominated by a central hexagonal entrance porch topped by a balcony. An oriel window opens out on to this; to the left and right are stone garland motifs showing ad and 1913 respectively, and these are flanked by flat casement windows. Two more oriel windows are in the outermost bays. The bays are defined by brick pilasters, and the outermost oriel windows have open pediments above and richly decorated brackets below. The Ionic-columned stepped porch spans the centre three bays snd leads to a recessed entrance with three sets of doors. Supported by the columns is a parapet with a dentil cornice and a centrally placed cartouche with the initials rh.
The north (Station Approach) elevation has the foundation plaque, which reads “this stone was laid / by STEPHEN ANDREW RALLI grandson of / STEPHEN RALLI in memory of whom / this hall was erected by his wife / 14th April 1913″. In the third bay from the left (east) is a secondary entrance with a semicircular gable across which the dentil cornice continues. Below this gable is a large oculus. The other windows have stone mullions and transoms, and the walls are supported by external buttresses.
Hove Civic Society wrote… At the top (Denmark Villas) is Ralli Hall, the road’s only Listed Building (Grade II). This red-brick community centre was built in 1913 by the Ralli family to perpetuate the memory of Stephen Ralli, who made his fortune in grain… click here to read more
America Pink wrote… The Ralli family, the first members of which moved to England in the 1820s from Chios in Greece, established a successful trading empire in London in the 19th century. Their business focused on grain and shipping, and by 1873 the five pioneering brothers and six other relatives had a listing on the Baltic Exchange. Stephen Augustus Ralli, son of Augustus Ralli, made his fortune in grain and owned houses in London and the seaside resort of Hove: he lived at St Catherine’s Lodge on Kingsway from 1894 until his death in 1902… click here to read more