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Our history

There’s a wonderful story behind our residential care home.

Danby Lodge was bought by Charles Walter Starmer, later Sir Charles Starmer, newspaper magnate and Alderman of Darlington. The house was built between 1902 and 1904 and first opened in December 1982. Lady Starmer was a renowned philanthropist who was involved in Darlington Football Club, Darlington Operatic Society and even Darlington Brown Trout Angling Society. She left the lodge for the benefit of the town and settled upon the Abbeyfield Society as beneficiary, in the understanding it would be named in memory of her husband.

John Fenwick Latimer was the son of a local Methodist Minister and he formed a lifelong friendship with Sir Charles Starmer; he established a legal practice on Darlington’s High Row before becoming a member of the Town Council, and an Alderman.

He died suddenly in 1977 after chairing a meeting at what was Eastbourne School. His wife and daughter were determined there should options for supported living for the elderly of the town and decided Abbeyfield should be the beneficiary of their estate. No suitable property was found and the Abbeyfield Society decided to build a state-of-the-art property in the grounds of Danby Lodge. JF Latimer House was opened in 1986.

Part of Lady Starmer’s bequest was what had been the coach house with a retainer’s house at the end overlooking Cleveland Terrace. The coach house had been converted into a garage and the whole building became available for redevelopment. Unfortunately, not much is recorded about the three people who enabled the building of Earl Keenan House.

The two Earl brothers left bequests for the Abbeyfield Society. The first had left half of his estate to his brother and half to Darlington Borough Council. Eventually the bequest was handed over to the Abbeyfield Society. Shortly after the second brother died and the estate was transferred over. Miss Keelan who lived in Coniscliffe Road later left a  £128,000 donation to Abbeyfield. The Society then developed the third house on the Darlington estate and it opened to residents in July 1991.

Who we are

  • The Danby Lodge estate, once the former home of Lady Starmer, offers the best possible standard of assisted living to meet the needs of residents.
  • The estate offers high-quality assisted living facilities for residents, set in Darlington’s beautiful West End.

Our heritage

  • Abbeyfield was created by Richard Carr-Gomm who lived in London in 1956 with the ethos of providing supported living for the lonely elderly across the UK, a principle which is still the mission of this Society.

What we do

  • Today, we offer top class care homes in Darlington with three separate facilities, including a stunning brick-built Edwardian residence set in an ocean of lawns.
  • We provide family-style living where residents are encouraged to have family and friends to visit at any time, and sit down together for delicious home-cooked lunches and teas each day.
  • Everyone is free to come and go as they please or join in any of the activities such as armchair aerobics. Some choose to linger with a book in the sun lounge while others like to help out in the gardens.
  • At Abbeyfield, we offer 24-hour emergency cover with an out-of-hours service and no extra bills or property maintenance to worry about.