WHEN Lady Starmer left her home to the Abbeyfield Society, nearly 40 years ago, she couldn’t have imagined the wonderful home it would become to generations of people who want to live well in later life.

The magnificent Danby Lodge estate, nestled in Darlington’s West End, has provided comfort and companionship for residents since the early 1980s.

The three beautiful homes, including the stunning red-brick Edwardian mansion, are set in an ocean of lawns, shrubs and trees, at the top of Ashcroft Road.

The Abbeyfield Society was set up in the 1950s, in London, by former Army officer, Richard Carr-Gomm, who wanted desperately to alleviate loneliness in older people.

So, he bought a small house and installed two men and two women and established himself as Housekeeper. The Abbeyfield model flourished and became enormously popular across the world.

Darlington’s Lady Starmer, a much-loved local benefactor, decided to leave her considerable estate to the Abbeyfield Society, and her home was converted into beautifully appointed apartments, complete with talented and dedicated Housekeepers.

Two further houses, Latimer House and Earl Keelan House, were added to the site, thanks to the generosity of local folk, including the family of Darlington solicitor JF Latimer, whose solicitor practice remains in the town to this day.

Today, he Danby Lodge site offers family-style living, gorgeous home-cooked meals, and company and companionship for men and women aged over 55.

Everyone is free to come and go as they please, and the site is full of families and friends who enjoy the gardens, the vegetable patch, the original summerhouse and the abundance of wildlife.

More than 60 years since the idea of Abbeyfield was first founded, the principle of a loving environment, compassion and company remains at the heart of Danby Lodge. Residents enjoy the freedom of independent living, but safe in the knowledge there are no extra bills, no property maintenance to worry about, and the option to enjoy activities such as armchair aerobics, a scrabble club, and local outings.

There’s also the comfort of 24-hour emergency cover with an out-of-hours service, for peace of mind.

The original concept, born in post-war London after Carr-Gomm saw, at first hand, the misery of loneliness in older life, remains as relevant today as it did in 1956.

Contact Abbeyfield today on 01325 369673 and see for yourself this hidden jewel in Darlington’s West End.

Email: darlington@abbeyfield.com

Website: www.abbeyfielddarlington.co.uk