A CHARITY is seeking local historians to help celebrate the remarkable life of one of Darlington’s best known philanthropists.

Lady Starmer died 40 years this year, and the Abbeyfield Society wants to put together a special exhibition in the town to mark her legacy.

She was famed for her garden parties in the grounds of Danby Lodge, an Edwardian brick villa set in an ocean of lawn which, which is hidden behind tall walls off Coniscliffe Road.

She left her Edwardian mansion to the Society when she died in 1979, and over the course of the next few years it was converted into apartments for people to live together in later life – part of the Abbeyfield philosophy to alleviate loneliness in old age.

The Society later expanded to provide two further properties on the site thanks to generous donations from local benefactors.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Danby Lodge

Lady Starmer left silverware, artefacts and paintings by her friend Muriel Latimer, daughter of JF Latimer, who lived in Ashcroft Road. She also left a number of black and white photos of her and her husband Sir Charles Starmer, who was the proprietor of the Northern Echo in Priestgate.

Today the site features imposing portraits of the glamorous couple and the mansion retains many of the original features harking back to 1904 when it was built.

Now Kath MacColl, General Manager of Abbeyfield, said she wanted to collate Lady Starmer’s life and legacy in words and pictures for an exhibition at Crown Street library and she appealed for photos and memories from local historians, and residents who remember Lady Starmer.

“She was clearly a remarkable woman with a great sense of philanthropy and someone who cared greatly about the town. She was involved in so many charities and good works, regularly opened up her home for local charities, held garden parties and fetes at Danby Lodge.

“It would be wonderful to bring all of this information together and celebrate the fact her memory still lives on so large. Her legacy has been extraordinary and her former home Danby Lodge has provided a loving home for generations of older people.”

The Society is hoping local historians will come together to look at the historical archives which include her will and funeral details.

They hope to arrange an exhibition later in the year and will celebrate her annual Garden Party in the grounds of Danby Lodge on July 6.

Anyone wishing to help should contact the Abbeyfield Society on 01325-369673 or email