Florence Nightingale’s Childhood Home Just Listed for $4.8 Million

Florence Nightingale famously wrote, “It breaks my heart to leave Lea Hurst.” Now, the same country estate in the U.K. where the nurse and statistician grew up is looking for its next owner.

Lea Hurst, a Grade II-listed home in Derbyshire, has hit the market for £3.75 million (or roughly $4.8 million) with England’s Blue Book Agency. According to the listing, Nightingale’s wealthy father, William Nightingale (née Shore), inherited the historic property from his great-uncle in 1815. At the time, the property had a 17th-century farmhouse, which was transformed into the grandiose Elizabethan-style dwelling seen today.

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When the Nightingales relocated to Embley Park in Hampshire in 1825, they kept Lea Hurst as a summer house, and the estate remained in the family until 1946. Beginning in the mid-1950s, the estate served as a residence for retired nurses and later operated as a nursing home under the Royal Surgical Society until 2004. Nightingale, who died in 1910 at the age of 90, is best remembered for founding the world’s first professional nursing school in London.

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The drawing room at Lea Hurst, the historic county estate where Florence Nightingale lived as a child.

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The current owner, Peter Kay, snagged the property in 2011 and spent the next three years restoring the place to its former glory, including recreating the original Victorian gardens. The Kay family has even gathered historic letters written by Nightingale, along with old photographs, drawings, and furniture connected to the house and the Nightingale clan.

“It has been a great pleasure and privilege to have owned the Lea Hurst estate, in Derbyshire’s beautiful Peak District, for the past 13 years,” Kay said in a statement. “We were drawn to Lea Hurst by its grand early Victorian gothic architectural styling and its stunning position overlooking the Derwent Valley. But it was the fact that this house was once the beloved home of one of our most important historical figures, Florence Nightingale, that made this an irresistible purchase for me.”

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The formal dining room features a stone fireplace and original wood floors.

The 13-bed abode sits on over 19 picturesque acres, with Derwent Valley on one side and mature parkland on the other. The home itself is entered via a gothic arched front door, which opens up to a grand reception hall decked out with high ceilings and flagstone flooring. Some of the standout spaces include a formal drawing room with original wooden floorboards, a wood-burning carved chimney, antique mirrored glass, and lots of bookshelves. The ground floor also holds a formal dining room, a butler’s pantry with built-in glazed cabinets, and a library where Nightingale was formerly homeschooled by her father.

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The home has 13 total bedrooms.

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Elsewhere, you’ll find a revamped chef’s kitchen with limestone flooring, a large island, granite counters, and a breakfast area. From here, you can access an outdoor dining terrace or scope out the game room, which has been kitted out with a billiards table. The upstairs holds all the bedrooms, including the primary, which features an original stone fireplace, an adjoining dressing room, and an ensuite bath. Interestingly, the double bedroom was personally used by Nightingale when she returned from caring for the British soldiers during the Crimean War.

“The most satisfying thing for us has been turning the house back into a family home for the first time since Florence and her sister Parthenope were running around here in the 1820s,” added Kay. “Our youngest two children were born in the house. It has been a wonderful place for our children to grow up in.”

Click here to see more photos of Lea Hurst.  

lea hurst florence nightingale
lea hurst florence nightingale

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