40 Faces of Brendoncare – Phoebe Bacon

Written by: Alison Reijman Published: February 9, 2024

 Mrs Phoebe Bacon’s unique concept of care for older people was the inspiration behind the vision for Brendoncare.

Recently widowed, Mrs Bacon believed there was a huge gap in the provision of care for older people of restricted means, who could no longer manage living in their own home.

In the early 1950s, she set about finding a large house in Winchester. She would convert it into a residential home with a homely atmosphere. At the home, older people could bring their own furniture, move in, and support each other.

Making it very much a home from home, each resident would have their own bedsitting room with access to a bathroom, dining room and gardens. They would be provided with two main meals a day. They would also have the facilities to make their own breakfasts and afternoon tea.

The house Mrs Bacon bought and converted was Brendon in Park Road (pictured above). In 1954, Brendon welcomed its first residents. Such was its success, the 12 rooms offered at Brendon fell well short of the local demand that followed.

In 1956, Mrs Bacon then bought The Friary in St Cross that offered accommodation for 19 residents with a warden. She bought two more St Cross properties, including Meadway which Brendoncare still operates. Managed by a charitable trust, these care homes were collectively called Brendon Houses then Meadway Houses.

Nursing wing

However, Mrs Bacon’s original concept had one drawback. When Brendon’s residents became ill, they had to be transferred elsewhere for treatment. To solve this, Mrs Bacon decided to build a nursing wing in Brendon’s grounds where sick residents could be relocated when they needed extra care.

The Brendon Nursing Trust, a charitable body, was set up to run the nursing wing. Its management committee comprised Mrs Bacon, her niece Mrs Sue Everitt, who was helping to run the care homes. Winchester GP, Sir Ronald Gibson was appointed its chairman.

Funds for the nursing wing were raised, mainly from Mrs Bacon’s generous friends and Winchester residents. The addition of the wing made Brendon one of the first care homes to provide residential and nursing care under one roof, a concept which Sir Ronald fully embraced when he launched the Brendoncare Foundation.

Mrs Bacon retired in 1977 after 25 years of selfless service to older people in Winchester. Three years later in 1980, she passed away peacefully aged 80, her ashes interred in Headbourne Worthy.

Legacy

Mrs Bacon’s legacy continued at Brendon which later became Brendoncare Park Road. Following her death, the Trust’s management committee took over the care home. Another new wing with five more rooms was added through a gift from Mrs Bacon’s sister Joan Graham and legacy from Lady Ashburton after whom it was named.

A new extension linking the main house and nursing wing to be known as the Phoebe Bacon Wing was then proposed. The ambitious project provided 10 more nursing rooms, a new kitchen, reception area and hexagonal sitting room. Construction work started in May 1983. It opened later that year just months before the Brendoncare Foundation was formally established.