Pearson House is part of the St Dunstan’s Institute for men and women blinded on war service. It was named after the Institute’s founder, Sir Arthur Pearson.

The first building constructed on the site was the home of Major Villeroy Russell, who owned the land on which Portland Place was built. Unfortunately his classical mansion was burnt down on 12 September 1825, before it was even completed. In 1847, three houses were built on the site, known as West House, Portland House and Portland Lodge. All three were later merged into one, West House, which was acquired at the end of the First World War by the St Dunstan’s Institute and later renamed Pearson House.

The facade of the listed building was preserved when the home was extensively restored and extended in 1971, reopening on 31 May 1973. The St Dunstan’s building at Ovingdean Gap is now used for training, holidays and convalescence, while Pearson House is principally for the elderly and sick.

Although Pearson House stands on the northern side of St George’s Road, it is actually numbered 12-14 Portland Place.

Comments about this page

  • My husband’s grandfather owned West House for many years. His name was William Willett (Catt). He left it to his youngest son George Walter Willett. This is a description of how it was rennovated in a family history document: ‘The drawing room was judged by the taste of the day – a most elegant room. It had long french windows leading onto wrought iron balconies and there was a view down Portland Place and far out to sea, this was a south aspect and the sun poured in. An artist came over from France to especially paint the ceiling, with a lovely design of cupids, draperies and flowers. To the right of the fire place was one dear little fat cupid, with straight dark hair cut in a fringe – this was a portrait of Mildred the baby of the family. The furniture was of painted satinwood and one or two pieces had been exhibited at the Paris Exhibition. The piano was of satinwood, too – and painted on the cover was the music of ‘Home, Sweet, Home’, the rest of the house was decorated equally lavishly.’ By Mollie Gonin, 1972.

    By Leanne Flaherty (02/11/2005)
  • Do you know any more about George Walter Willett? There was a Mrs G W Willett living at 40 Great College Street in the 1890s and in 1892 number 40 and 41 are designated as “The Welcome”” and The Friend in Need” Mrs G W Willetts homes. Number 41 still has “The Friend in Need” over the door. I wondered if this could be his widow.

    By Janis Winkworth (11/06/2021)
  • Just found out a bit more. The Welcome was a boys home in the 1891 Census, with someone living there to look after the boys. I therefore conclude that both houses were run as a charity by Mrs WIllett and she did not in fact live there, despite her name being included in the 1890 Street Directory. Would still welcome any information on the subject though. The Friend in Need only lasted about 3 years, The Welcome a little longer.

    By Janis Winkworth (11/06/2021)

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