The Ferens family home that has left a lasting legacy for Hull ladies
Thomas Ferens gifts to Hull include the Ferens Art Gallery and £250,000 for what was to become the University of Hull. With great concern for the welfare of the people of Hull, Thomas Ferens also bequeathed land for a boating lake in East Park, donated land and funded swimming baths in Chapman Street as well as providing 12 alms-houses in Holderness Road. In other parts of the country he also made substantial donations to schools, hospitals and charitable organisations.
What is less well known is that the politician, philanthropist and industrialist who helped establish Reckitt & Sons spoke in the House of Commons to further the cause of women’s rights. He supported women’s suffrage at home and repeatedly drew attention to the trafficking of women and girls in the colonies. When the former MP for Hull East died in May 1930, he made another grand gesture by bequeathing his and his late wife Ester’s home and grounds, together with the endowment of £50,000, to be used as “a rest home for poor gentlewomen in reduced circumstances”.
The first women were due to be received into the house in east Hull in February 1932, according to the recorded minutes that have been kept since its inception and Holderness House, now a registered charity, continues today under the governance of a Board of Trustees as a residential home for women. Today, the home remains a vibrant place for elderly ladies to live and is supported by the dedicated and loyal staff, the Board of Trustees and the Holderness House Ladies Committee.