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Gerald Francis Cobb

The Hermitage, Silver Street

The History ofthe Hermitage, Silver Street


Swan Hurrell had built and occupied the house by this year. In ‘A House By The River’ E M Keynes writes: It is impossible to decide how much of the present Hermitage forms part of the original house – it has been so much altered, added-to, and sub-divided… Later on, the stabling was pulled down and the three-storeyed west end of the house was built in its place, probably by Dr Parkinson. … What certainly does remain of of Swann Hurrell’s house is the drawing-room with the bedroom over it in the big round bay facing the garden and in all ,likelihood, also the long narrow verandah, supported by elegantly ornamented iron pillars …. Most of the cellars must also belong to the 1853 house.


Swann Hurrell moved to 30 Thompson’s Lane where his back door opened onto his foundry. The house was let to a Mrs Sarah Miller.


After death of Mrs Miller the house was let to a Richard Miller, probably her son, living in Newnham Terrace.

1874 Hermitage

Rev. Stephen Parkinson

Parkinson bought the freehold; he was a celebrated teacher of maths at St John’s College. He bought the house on the occasion of his marriage to Elizabeth Lucy Whateley; her money paid for a lot of enlargement and ‘improvement’. It was now that the house was named ‘Hermitage’ even though the original site of that name must have been further to the east.

1881 The Hermitage

Stephen Parkinson, 57, doctor of divinity, b Yorks

Elizabeth Lucy, 45, b Birmingham

Susan Mills, 32, cook, b Cheltenham

Kate Cripps, 26, ladys Maid, b Gloucs

Jane Gray, 23, housemaid, b Cambridge

Marsha Brown, 18, kitchenmaid, b Suffolk

Stephen Parkinson in the first electric Brougham in Cambridge, in front of Hermitage. (undated)


Stephen Parkinson died and his widow continued to live at the house.


Elizabeth Lucy Parkinson, widow, living on her own means [in 1893 Elizabeth married Gerard F Cobb]

Mary Routh, visitor, 19, b Cambs

Kate Cripps, 36, maid

Jane Gray, cook

Mary A Gawthorp, 33, housemaid, b Histon

Sarah J Symonds, 22, kitchen maid, b Teversham

Stewart Nottage, 16, page, b Essex


Elizabeth Lucy Parkinson remarried, Gerard Francis Cobb (1838 – 1904)


Gerard Francis Cobb (1838-1904), musical composer, 62, b Kent [junior bursar of Trinity College until his marriage in 1893 when he resigned his position as was the custom]

Another source of information is the MusicWebsite.

Jane Gray, 42, cook, b Cambridge

Sarah Hamdy, 31, housemaid, b Somerset

Elizabeth A Thorogood, 20, kitchenmaid, b Cambs

Reuben Banbrook, 20, footman, b Warwicks

In Period Piece, Gwen Raverat describes the Hermitage and ‘Mrs C’, p82. A drawing of the Monte Cobbeo which Cobb had erected to propose to Elizabeth Parkinson on in the Trinity Fellow’s Garden can be found on the Zanditon website.

More information about Gwen Raverat can be found here:


Gerard Cobb died and Mrs Cobb née Whateley continued living at the house until her death in 1913.

1913 The Hermitage

Mrs Gerard Cobb

She left the house in her will to St John’s College.

1913 – 1917

House was let by St John’s to Rev J Plowden Wardlaw, Chaplain of St Edward’s.

1917 – 1919

Used by the War Office as  Rest Home for officers.


University lodging house run by H C H Coppins. He had to provide at least ten sets of rooms.


St Catharine’s lodging house


Guest house run by Miss Lucy Cragoe.

Students who lodged there include former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Ramsey, Dr Frisch Nobel Prize winner, Sir Lewis Casson and Dame Sybil Thorndyke.


Leased by the Association for promoting a Third Foundation for Women in the University, the forerunner of New Hall.


Leased direct to New Hall until such time as new college buildings ready.

1962 (21)

R Bagley, grocer


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