Our History

Canon Purey-Cust
Canon Purey-Cust by Edward Butler, albumen carte-de-visite, 1872 NPG x4956 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Trust is named after Canon Purey-Cust and the nursing home he founded in 1914.

Canon Purey-Cust was Dean of York from 1880 to 1917. He was so popular with the people of York and throughout Yorkshire, that when he retired a “Benefit Year” was held in his honour. During this year, people throughout Yorkshire and from all walks of life donated a significant amount of money.

Canon Purey-Cust decided to use this money to build the Purey Cust Nursing Home on land leased from the Dean and Chapter which was located directly opposite York Minster. The aim of the home was to provide low cost health care to those who could otherwise not afford treatment.

In its early days, the Nursing Home was financially secure and it was therefore possible to keep the charges to patients very low. However, the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948, providing free healthcare for all, had a huge impact upon the numbers of patients paying to use the hospital’s services. Within a few years, the Home was suffering substantial losses.

In 1948, The Home had investments of over £8,000 held in a fund to support the education and operation of District Nurses. When District Nursing became the responsibility of the Local Authority with the advent of the NHS, it was agreed that the investments should be used to form a charitable trust.

Purey Cust Nursing Home
Purey Cust Nursing Home © City of York Council

The charitable trust was established in 1950. This required that the income from the investments should be spent on “amenities and comforts for the “sick poor in the City of York.” At this time, a joint committee was set up of members of the Nursing Home’s management committee together with the Medical Officer of the Local Authority to administer the funds.

The charitable trust ran alongside the Purey Cust Nursing Home for many years. However, by the late 1960s, the Nursing Home had fallen into a poor state and the future looked uncertain. It was something of a relief when, in 1968 an agreement was reached with Nuffield Hospitals, whereby in exchange for a long lease, Nuffield would carry out major refurbishment to the buildings and use them as a private hospital in York.

This worked very well until the late 1990s, when the requirements of modern hospitals changed and the old outdated buildings of the Purey Cust Nursing Home were no longer suitable as a modern medical facility.

Eventually Nuffield moved into new hospital facilities and the Home stood empty for a while. The Trustees sold the Purey Cust buildings in 2013 to a private developer and they were turned into prestigious residential accommodation, on what is one of the prime locations in York, overlooking York Minster.

The proceeds of the sale were invested by the Trustees and the income generated from the investments is spent every year on projects in and around York. The total amount spent has steadily increased year on year since, up to a total of around £100k in the last financial year.

During 2014, the Trust became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and the assets of the original Charity were transferred to the CIO.

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