- The 22 acre estate was initially known as Pilmuir and was a home of the Wills family from Bristol, who were manufacturers of a well-known brand of cigarettes. Originally there was only one main house on the site which was built in 1902. One of the daughters, Ella Rowcroft (pictured above), came to live here soon after the Great War.
- In 1935 Mrs Rowcroft decided to have another house built on the estate as a way of giving local men work during the Depression. This was the house we now call Rainbow.
- In 1937 Ella Rowcroft moved from Pilmuir (the main house) into Rainbow house so that the main house could be used as a Convalescent Home for women and children from Bristol with tuberculosis, or those recovering from surgery. During the Second World War it was also used for soldiers recovering from injury, and in later years, it served as a maternity unit.
- When she died in January 1941, Ella Rowcroft created an endowment fund to cover the continued running of the Rowcroft Convalescent Home. The Endowment fund later became a registered charity called the Rowcroft Convalescent Home which is still controlled by appointed trustees.
- In 1972 the Pilmuir Estate was divided from the Rainbow and part of the grounds sold leaving Pilmuir with about four acres of grounds which the Trustees ran for some years as nursing home. This was not entirely successful and an approach by The Torquay Lions’ Club regarding the setting-up of a Hospice was well received. The incoming president of the club was Richard Brinsley who decided to make the formation of a Hospice his project in his year in office.
- In 1981 the Trustees of the Rowcroft Convalescent Home offered the property to be used as a Hospice. It was decided that the home should be re-named Rowcroft in memory of the generous Ella Rowcroft and the Rowcroft House Foundation Ltd, a company limited by Guarantee and Registered as a charity was set up to operate a Hospice for Torbay and South Devon.
- Rowcroft Hospice opened in May 1982, admitting its first three patients
- By April 1983, a new ward was being made ready for use, adding a further seven beds.
- In 1990, major alterations were done to the main house creating an additional ward and single room.
- From the mid 1990s, Rowcroft began to take its care out into the community and established a team of Community Nurse Specialists, later becoming a multi-professional team which included other health and social care specialists.
- 2000 saw the inception of the Hospice at Home team. This was a service providing care in peoples own homes during the last week of life, but until recently limited to a 9-5 availability.
- In 2009 the inpatient unit was refurbished, with the creation of one extra single room; three new ensuite shower/wc rooms; a further three new ensuite wc rooms, improved overnight facilities for relatives; an improved lounge for families and patients.
- 2010 saw the refurbishment of the Richard Brinsley Centre into a purpose-designed outpatient centre with a bespoke physiotherapy gym, updated clinic rooms, a dedicated complementary therapy room and discrete and comfortable consultation rooms.
- In late 2011 the Hospice at Home service was enhanced to provide care in the last two weeks of life, within patients own homes; increasing coverage to 24 hrs a day / 7 days a week, throughout 300 square miles of South Devon. In 2012 the service is expected to care for over 420 patients; double the number for whom Rowcroft previously cared.
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