Caxton Convalescent Home, Limpsfield 1895

‘In all England there could not be found a more ideal place for a convalescent, jaded by the monotonous wear and tear of the printer’s craft, to refit him for work and the duties of life’


By the early 1890s, members of the printing trades were already running a convalescent home at Swanage, in Dorset, but with over 30,000 men following these trades in London alone there was a need for further provision. Initially it was decided to build the new Home at Swanage but the area purchased by Edwards for the Charing Cross Convalescence Home at Limpsfield was larger than the hospital needed and they wished to sell the surplus part, valued at £1,000, and use the money to help maintain the new Home. Edwards let it be known that if the printers were to choose the Limpsfield site then he would fund the building of the Home, at a cost of £3,000.
At Edwards suggestion the Lord Mayor of London, who was also associated with the printing trade, laid the foundation stone and Edwards, by then the President of the Institution, opened the Home in September 1895.
Set just below the ridge of the North Downs and within nine acres of grounds, the red brick Home was situated on the edge of 1,500 acres of common and pine forest and looked out over miles of undulating countryside towards the South Downs.
Alfred Saxon Snell, FRIBA, designed the Home and the total cost was £6,000. Accommodation was provided for thirty patients on the first and second floors, with the matron’s and servants’ quarters at the rear, accessed by a separate staircase. A sitting room and Games room were supplemented by a small library, stocked with 512 books from Passmore Edwards and added to by other donors. Outside there were games areas and formal gardens, as well as vegetable gardens and orchards, ensuring that the Home was supplied with fruit and vegetables throughout the year, and an adequate supply of new laid eggs from the Home’s poultry.
Popularity of the Home increased rapidly, to the extent that, in 1908, the building was extended with a new dining hall, which was also used for concerts and other entertainments, kitchens and an office, at a further cost of £2,600.
During WW1 a new wing was built dedicated to all those who left the printing trade to fight. Built to accommodate eighteen patients the new wing cost £6,000, as much as the original building.
The Printers’ Charitable Corporation, which traces its origins back to 1827, worked closely with the Caxton Home, eventually took over control, and finally closed and sold the building for residential use.


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