The large house in the grounds of the Hospice, originally called the Grange, was the home of a local wine merchant. In 1945 it was bought by Canon McShane, a local priest, and became a centre for worship and the priest’s residence until the Broomhill estate was acquired as the site for the new church.
In 1949 the Sisters of the Cross & Passion acquired the property as a Convent and began a school that continued until the 1970’s when the Sisters decided to withdraw from independent schools and focus their resources and energy in an area of greater need. This decision led to the closure of this popular school in Moortown.
The Sisters reconsidered how the site could best be used; an exploration of local needs and a timely Radio 4 programme about care of people with terminal illness seemed to point emphatically to the need for a Hospice. A decision was made, the project gathered momentum and St Gemma’s was launched at a public meeting in Leeds Town Hall in October 1977.
It was a real act of faith given that the Sisters did not yet have the money for the project.
As the school had been called St Gemma’s it was decided to keep this name as it seemed apt for the new work of a hospice.
On 12 March 1978 the new 9-bed unit was dedicated and opened it’s doors to the first patients a month later on 12 April.
1982 saw further expansion in bedspace when a new building was formally opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on 30 March. Princess Diana returned in 1991 to open the newly built Prout Conference Centre.
In May 2000, a major refurbishment began to keep pace with the ever increasing challenges as we continue caring for people from all parts of the community with advanced life threatening and progressive diseases.
In 2017 we were officially awarded ‘University Teaching Hospice’ status – the first Hospice to be formally recognised as a university teaching hospice – in recognition of the substantial research and teaching activities St Gemma’s carries out. Find out more about how we achieved university teaching hospice status and what this means for our patient care at St Gemma’s.