Thomas Ferens care home in Holderness House confirms closure

A care home in a historic building bequeathed by philanthropist Thomas Ferens will close this year, its trustees have confirmed.

Holderness House Care Home is in the Grade II former home of the Hull MP and Methodist, who was the managing director of nearby Reckitts. Thomas Ferens was one of Hull's most charitable men and provided the land for the boating lake in East Park and funded the construction of 12 almshouses in Holderness Road.

He also donated funds to establish what became the University of Hull and the city centre art gallery - which still bears his name today. After his death at Holderness House on May 9, 1930, it was bequeathed in his will to be used as a "rest home for poor gentlewomen in reduced circumstances".


But in the latest report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the care home was downgraded from "good" to "requires improvements", noting that the single-paned windows in the 186-year-old house may pose a risk to residents. A relative of a resident at the care home said they had six months until they had to move out.

In a statement, the board of trustees for Holderness House said: "In 1930 Sir Thomas Ferens bequeathed Holderness House, its grounds and a financial investment for the benefit of local people, with the establishment of The Charity of Thomas Ferens for a Home of Rest at Holderness House specifically, women in distress as part of his philanthropic investments into the City.

Thomas Ferens as a young man -Credit:Richard Addison
Thomas Ferens as a young man -Credit:Richard Addison

"In the initial gift, this contribution to our city and its people was focused on independent housing however, over the years the ladies benefitting from the house and its grounds required further support which moved the trust’s focus to providing additional care, latterly becoming a registered care home with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

"Holderness House and its team has supported hundreds of local ladies and their families providing a place to call home in later life as well as quality care in an outstanding place of historical beauty in East Hull.

"As custodians of the charity, with the evidence available to us and with support from legal, financial and care advisors, we have taken the difficult decision to formally begin the process of closure as a registered care home and seeking reprovision of care and support at alternative locations for all the residents.

"A recent building condition survey and our CQC inspection have both noted substantial challenges with the building and have further confirmed that the difficult decision made by Trustees is in the best interests of our current residents, our team and the building in the long term.

"During its time as a care home, the world of health and social care has seen significant changes, challenges, and in recent years a global pandemic which stretched our resources to the limit but also saw our team at Holderness House continue to provide excellent care and compassion to all its residents.

"For many years the trustees and management have worked tirelessly to balance the books and the restrictions of planning to protect the standard of care, whilst also remembering our duty to protect the original gift for generations to come.

"Many similar commercial homes in historic or older buildings have closed with these pressures, and whilst we have explored all of the options available to us in the last 10 years in line with our duties as trustees, we have remained resilient and continued the service for as long as possible.

"Whilst still being developed, our initial plans include reverting the property and grounds back to providing independent housing and greater access to our land for the community, which sees us move back closer to the original will and aims of Sir Thomas Ferens for the House and associated assets.

"Paramount in our thinking at this next stage in the process is our current residents, their families and our staff team. As a charity, not a commercial entity, our focus has been on making an informed decision, albeit a difficult one and vitally whilst we have the resources to support this change positively and not waiting until we are in a crisis position, giving us the ability to carry out the changes needed at a pace that supports all involved.

"We will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure that this process is done with the upmost care and attention, minimising distress and anxiety for each individual resident and their families.

"Resources are available for stakeholder engagement and we will provide further relevant and timely updates through the most relevant communication channels. Finally, we would like to place on record our thanks to the Holderness House team for their continued hard work and compassion."