Within the village is the imposing red brick Duchess of Somerset’s Hospital (known as ‘the College’) with its beautiful bell tower and ‘Georgian Gothick’ chapel. Around 1695 Sarah, Duchess of Somerset, bequeathed in her Will money to build 20 homes for widows of the clergy. A further 30 cottages were added to house widows from Berkshire, Somerset, Wiltshire and London. In the 1920’s, Lord Long became a trustee and ordered many improvements including the installation of heating and bathrooms, although some of these were not implemented until after his death. Today, these 50 historic, Grade II, self-contained units, known as cottages, are fully modernised and maintained to a good standard. They are arranged in four terraces around the quadrangle and chapel. Today, the College is run by a historic trust with a board of Trustees who report to the present Duke of Somerset. The residents are all over 55, from a diverse mix of backgrounds, including teachers, nurses, writers, carers and artists as well as nationalities from Europe, Africa and the antipodes.
In the 2019 Best Kept Village Competition, in which Froxfield won ‘Best Newcomer’, the College was described by the judges as:
“The jewel in the crown, building wise, is ‘The College’, aka the Duchess of Somerset Hospital, which looks impressive from the road but only fully reveals its magnificence upon entering through the arch into the central area.”
For more information – www.duchessofsomerset.co.uk