Our history

The history of the hospice movement is filled with many inspirational and determined people like Dame Cecily Saunders (pictured right). It goes back as far as the 1800s when pioneers at the time recognised that care for the dying was as crucial as curative treatments.

Our history begins in the 1970s, when others who shared Dame Cecily Saunders vision, began fundraising to bring better care at the end of life to Cornwall.

Our history
  • 1967 test


    The birth of the modern hospice movement

    It wasn’t until 1967, though, that the modern hospice movement as we know it came into being when Dame Cicely Saunders founded St Christopher’s House in London as the first hospice linking expert pain and symptom control, compassionate care, teaching and clinical research.

    With it came local, independent charitable hospices across the UK. Today there are more than 220 hospices just like ours.

  • The 1970s test

    Could we have a hospice for Cornwall?

    In the 1970s, doctors involved in cancer treatment wanted to establish a unit in Cornwall which specialised in relieving pain for patients. They discussed those needs with the Plymouth and Cornwall Cancer Fund, whose president was Lady Mount Edgcumbe.

    She was to lend her name to Mount Edgcumbe Hospice, but the building itself is the legacy of a remarkable woman, Mrs Enid Dalton-White MBE, who led the campaign to raise the funds needed to provide the first-ever hospice in Cornwall.

    Enid had nursed two husbands through cancer and was passionate about providing the right care at the right time and place. Her determined fundraising started when she opened her gardens in the village of Polruan to the public.


    The 1970s test

  • 1980 test


    The vision becomes real

    With enormous commitment and dedication, Enid worked tirelessly with fellow supporters to find the money. She was finally rewarded on 6 October 1980, when Mount Edgcumbe Hospice, built on the outskirts of St Austell in mid-Cornwall, opened its doors to patients.

    Enid was awarded an MBE in recognition of the services to Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday honours list in June 1982. Her medal is proudly displayed at the hospice, with her photograph in our concourse area.

  • 1986 test

    The first dedicated beds in West Cornwall

    Recognising the need for end-of-life care in the west of the county, The Sisters of the Daughters of the Cross were instrumental in opening four palliative care beds in a private wing of St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle.


    1986 test

  • 1988


    An extension at St Austell

    As demand grew, the need for more space at Mount Edgcumbe Hospice was recognised, and an extension was built and opened by HRH The Duchess of Kent on 21st June 1988.

  • 1992

    More beds for Hayle

    To meet the ever-increasing need for end-of-life care beds, the project was extended to 7 beds, and all were moved into the main hospital building at St Michael’s Hospital, Hayle.



  • 1999


    A second purpose-built hospice for Cornwall

    It wasn’t long before a plan was hatched to build a hospice for West Cornwall. Many people were involved in the fundraising project to build St Julia’s Hospice, including many who still form part of the numerous fundraising groups that the charity has.

    The Sisters of the Daughters of the Cross left St Julia’s Hospice in 2012.

  • 2006

    A tale of two hospices

    All this time, the two Cornish hospices had operated independently as two separate charities. However, in 2006 a new single charity is known as Cornwall Hospice Care was formed (UK registered charity number 113140) which brought the running of the Hayle and St Austell hospices under one umbrella.



  • 2015 fundraisers


    A right royal visit

    We were thrilled to receive a visit from HRH The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO (now HRH The Duke of Edinburgh) to Mount Edgcumbe Hospice to mark its 35th anniversary, on Thursday, 17 September 2015. During an hour-long stay on Thursday, 17th September, he met patients, members of staff and volunteers who work for the charity and those who shared their personal stories as part of a special project aimed at helping people understand what goes on in Cornwall’s adult hospices.

  • 2016 test

    Anniversary celebrations for West Cornwall

    In October 2016, many who were originally involved with St Julia’s Hospice gathered to celebrate 30 years of hospice care in West Cornwall. They included former staff, volunteers and some of the Order of Nuns who set up the first palliative care beds in the hospital.

    The celebration was a Cornish Cream Tea at The Clowance Estate and Country Club, where many of the early fundraising events took place.


    2016 test

  • 2020 test


    Our 40th Anniversary and a strange year indeed

    It’s fair to say that 2020 did not turn out as anyone expected!

    Our charity was due to celebrate in style the 40 years of dedicated hospice care in Cornwall and at Mount Edgcumbe Hospice and the 21-year anniversary of the opening of St Julia’s Hospice in Hayle.

    We kicked off the year with a ‘40 Voices’ concert at Tywardreath Church, featuring local choirs and musicians, and had made plans for a huge Cream Tea event with talks about breaking the world record, plus celebration events at both hospices and much more.

    Then we heard the word COVID-19 and our world changed forever. As we all went into lockdown, our shops were closed, our events were cancelled, and our hospices were coping with new working guidance, very restricted visiting and continual testing regimes.

    We all had to be resourceful, emerging with ideas for virtual events, the developing of new donation centres as a way of accepting donations for our shops and ways to continue providing care and support in our wards. Our Ruby Anniversary will be remembered but for all the wrong reasons.

The Cornwall Hospice Care of today

We’re incredibly proud of our history and all the amazing people who’ve been involved with our Cornish charity.

Whilst we continue to live with Covid-19, our world is almost ‘back to normal’, but as ever, we are here for you when you need us, at our two Cornish hospices and the community.

Our One Team of staff and volunteers continue to provide care for our patients and support for family, friends and carers – all free of charge thanks to people like you supporting our Cornish charity.

As we look towards the future, the cost-of-living crisis looms large for us all, so we look to more innovative ways of doing more sustainable things, and to improvements at our hospices to further enhance your time spent with us.

Staying with us our staff St Julia's Hospice

Listen to our podcast

Why not listen to our charity podcast ‘Two Old Choughs: A Tale of Two Hospices’, which includes episodes about the beginnings of our Cornish charity, including interviews with those who were there at the start of our journey?

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Registered address: Porthpean Road, St Austell, Cornwall PL26 6AB. Registered in England and Wales; Company Number 5660401 - Web Design by The Ambitions Agency