Who Was Lilian Faithfull?
Lilian Faithfull was a pioneer in education and social change. Her vision and forward thinking have transformed the lives of thousands of people both within her lifetime and beyond.
Born in Herefordshire in 1865, Lilian Faithfull grew up in a large family that valued education and social equality, which was to have a lasting impact on her life. She was sent by her father to a boys’ prep school in order to receive the high level of education not accorded to young girls at that time and eventually obtained a first class degree from Somerville College, Oxford although as a women she was unable to graduate.
Choosing teaching as a career, she came to Cheltenham in 1906 as the second principal of The Cheltenham Ladies’ College, following the death of Dorothea Beale. She established a reputation for kindness and concern for her pupils and took an interest in public life, becoming one of the first female magistrates in England when she was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Gloucestershire in 1920.
On her retirement she built a cottage outside Cheltenham and enjoyed an active social life. She also discovered the joys of driving a motorcar, the freedom of which she delighted in. With more time to devote her attention to social problems, in London she campaigned for better social housing for the capital’s poorest families. In 1937 she opened the London Cookhouse in Marylebone, enlisting several of her former pupils to help cook and serve hot food to London’s poor.
Returning to Cheltenham she felt that the town’s impoverished elderly were badly done by and famously declared, “something must be done”. Recruiting like-minded and influential people she formed the association Welfare for Older People in 1946 and began raising funds. In 1947 the first home was purchased by the Cheltenham Old Peoples’ Housing Society to provide care for 12 ladies. This was to be the first of several homes that would provide shelter and care for members of Cheltenham’s elderly population thanks to the committee’s careful management and innovative approach to raising funds.
Lilian Faithfull spent the final months of her life at Faithfull House in Cheltenham’s Suffolk Square and died on 2 May 1952 at the age of 87. Following her death, the committee decided to rename Lilian Faithfull Homes in honour of the organisation’s spirited and devoted founder.
Decades after Lilian Faithfull called her first meeting to discuss the welfare of older people, the ethos of Lilian Faithfull Homes remains true to her founding principles: a desire to improve the lives of others through care and dedication. Today, still guided by those original principles, Lilian Faithfull Homes has a positive impact on around 2,000 lives a day, through our residents and their families.
With a range of buildings adapted to enable residents to lead full lives we can, when possible, move your loved one to a new location within the Lilian Faithfull group if their care needs change.
Lilian Faithfull Homes are a registered charity. Our board of trustees is comprised of individuals with a wide range of skills and experience – a number of our trustees also have specialist experience in the field of elderly care.