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Victoria Asylum, date unknown

Victoria Homes / Victoria Friendly Societies’ Asylum

History of Victoria Homes

The Cambridge Victoria Friendly Society was founded in 1837 to provide almshouses for decayed members of benefit societies. The first homes were in cottages in James Street, Barnwell. In 1841 the range at this location was built, designed by George Bradwell. After 1850 further accommodation was provided in separate groups of single-storey dwellings. (see 1959 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments Survey of Cambridge)


1841: Victoria Asylum report (MoC284/64)

1846 Romilly’s Cambridge Diary (June 14):

Wrote a heap of canvassing letters for Lucy’s protégé a poor silly simple-minded old Cobbler (Rob. Scarr) who is a Candidate for the Victoria Benefit Asylum: He is 68 and has 16 children: the juvenility of his present wife (his second) is thrown in his teeth – she is however past 50 on her own confession.

Romilly’s editor notes: The Victoria Friendly Societies’ Asylum, established in 1837 and built for twelve families in Chesterton Road, was a retreat for infirm men and women who had been members of local societies for at least ten years, and who were therefore deemed respectable and provident. Elections were in the hands of subscribers. Many charities dispensed their aid to competing applicants only after a protracted election among the subscribing patrons. The whole system of canvassing, bartering, and borrowing or buying proxy votes was as time consuming to the earnest sponsor as it must have been tormenting to the candidate. To pick a winner and see him through to victory was akin to ‘any triumph on the track, the playing field or the stock market.’ (D.Owen, English Philanthropy 1660-1960 (1964)).

1847 December 28th

Romilly records: Went to the Victoria Asylum to see old Mrs Jordan (aged 87) and give her a Christmas box: she was out : so I paid a visit to her kind fellow lodgers the Simpsons. He worked for many years at the Pitt Press, but he has now little or no use of his hands and feet: I went into his bedroom and had a long talk with him. which seemed to give him pleasure, and he expressed himself grateful. I then went into the sitting room with his wife and two daughters and made the youngest read the Testament to me: she did it greatly to my satisfaction.

Victoria Homes, Victoria Road, (MoC2.145.70)


Email 2023 from A&PDG:

I have been in touch before regarding my GG grandfather Barnabas Gibson who was governor of Cambridge Gaol. I also have a Foundation  trowel and mallet which was presented to him on the building of the new building of the Cambridge Victoria Friendly Society Asylum. I also have an article from his funeral which mentions his works with the Asylum and Tramways Company.

1899 Victoria Asylum

1899 Victoria Asylum

Barnabas Gibson obituary

See Salisbury Villas

1939 Register:  Nurses Home

Note from ML 2024: My great aunt Lilian HAWKES was the nurse. Lilian was born at Hope Cottage, Garden Walk, Victoria Road, Cambridge 1883 & baptised at St Luke’s Church, Victoria Road. Lilian’s working life was in service to others – both town and gown;  she never married. Before taking up the position at the Victoria Homes,  she became a nurse (London & Newmarket).  She spent 3 yrs in Cologne, Germany, as a ‘nurse/companion’ to a Newmarket horse-breeder’s wife.   Her own health failed due to a heart condition so she was forced to give up the post at Victoria Homes – a situation which rendered her homeless.  For a short while she took part-time work at the Milton Road Nursing Home Cambridge & alternated ‘lodging’ with a brother and a sister until her death in 1948.


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