Octavia is well known for her work as one of the founders of the National Trust and as a social reformer. Her work as a pioneer of the Army Cadet Force generally does not receive the recognition it deserves. Although Army Cadets have been around …
Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House was built in about 1740 on Wisbech’s South Brink. As a Grade II* listed building, it is particularly important as a building of outstanding architectural or historic interest.
The house was home to James and Caroline Hill as they undertook the social reform activities on which their daughter’s life work was based. It was divided soon after the family left Wisbech.
In 1994, the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust (registered charity no.1018947) purchased part of the house, opening a museum entirely run by volunteers. It attracts visitors from all over the world.
In 2007, the Trust purchased the rest of Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and a fundraising appeal, the reunification project was completed in 2009. The first phase re-opened in March 2008 with new displays and facilities.
In 2011, a strip of derelict land next to the Birthplace House was purchased by the National Trust with the help of a 50% grant from Fenland District Council, and in 2012 this was gifted to Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House Trust on a 99 year lease to create and maintain the land as a public open space for all to enjoy. The area was named Centenary Green as 2012 saw the 100th anniversary of Octavia Hill’s death.
In 2020-21, the Trust was able to use the closure created by the COVID-19 pandemic to revisit the displays and update the content of the museum, adding content in Polish and Lithuanian to better reflect the character of Wisbech and creating new family activities to include our youngest visitors.
A visit to Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House is an opportunity to discover the remarkable story of Octavia Hill’s life’s work and her influence on many spheres of modern life.
We have rooms covering Octavia’s childhood, her teenage years when she was a copy artist and managed young people making crafted items, a room showing those she inspired and was connected too, further rooms explaining her interest in housing for the poor of London and how she developed solutions for their situation, including using the arts and open spaces to help them. This of course led to the National Trust, which we also feature in another room. We have a large building, originally three separate buildings, which we hope you will visit soon and learn more about this amazing woman and her work, reaching from her life in Victorian times and still relevant now.
The Long Room (pictured) allows a view over the famous North Brink opposite and the tidal river Nene.
Here is a short VR tour of the ground floor of the House – visit us soon for the full experience!
best viewed full screen, landscape on phones!