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Mrs Mark Ives Whibley  (nee Frances Pullen)   1829 – 1915

A fine photographic
Portrait of Mrs Whibley
Presented to the Castle
End Mission in her
Memory by her son
H G Whibley.



Location : B13.238

The family name Whibley appears often in relation to my Cemetery related research.   Frances and her husband Mark Ives Whibley were prominent in business, local Liberal politics and Church affairs.

Frances Pullen came from a farming family in Chilham near Canterbury and Mark Ives from nearby Sittingbourne. He entered the grocery trade and worked in Brighton as a cheesemonger. In  1846 his prospects must have been good as they were able to marry. In 1852 they moved to Cambridge and he took up a position with Brimley & Bond, Grocers on Market Hill living nearby in St Edward’s Passage.

Over the next twenty years Frances’ time and energy were absorbed in raising their nine children, several of whom sadly died in childhood, and supporting her husband who soon became a partner in the successful grocery business. Increasingly prosperous in 1879 they moved to a house on Milton Road then at the edge of the town.

The town was rapidly expanding at this time and whilst much new housing was being built the older, squalid and neglected properties at Castle End around the County Gaol were the scene of great poverty and despair. With her children now grown Frances’ mind turned to helping those in need.  On Sunday 11th February 1879 ‘Castle End Morning School’ began with two men attending at a small rented room in a cottage in Kettle’s Yard. Numbers soon increased and a weekday Night School meeting was added. The undenominational support offered together with the teaching of the three R’s and religion was welcomed by the community.

Whibley3Frances and Mark were closely involved with the establishment of Victoria Road Congregational Church completed in 1884 next door to St Luke’s Church which had been opened in 1874. Frances made many contacts from the University through the Congregational Church, both undergraduates and fellows attended services and the special Sunday evening meetings for University men. Many were persuaded to assist with the teaching and later went on to distinguished careers. Samuel Lavington Hart (Newsletter 4 ) devoting his life to Missionary work in China, J L Paton becoming High Master of Manchester Grammar and A S Ramsey becoming President of Magdalene College are a few of the many who were influenced and inspired by Frances’ deep faith in both religion and education. In Lavington Hart’s biography she is described as ‘a veritable Mother in Israel whose open handed hospitality enriched the lives of so many Cambridge men’.

Victoria Road Congregational Church c.1900   ©Cambridgeshire Collection    [ Now the site of Peter Maitland Court]

Whibley4         Whibley5
The Mission as it is today with detail of the main door.


By 1884 membership had increased to sixty drawn by the variety of activities that had grown from the modest start. Clubs for women, girls and boys had been added to the educational meetings and a Sick Benefit scheme provided a lifeline in the days before any State insurance. New premises were needed for what was now known as ‘The Castle End Mission and Working Men’s Institute’. Frances was able to persuade the Committee to purchase a plot of land on the corner of St Peter’s Street and Pound Hill. Through public appeal the funds were raised to construct the building that remains a venue for religious and public meetings today. Mark Ives died in 1895 but Frances remained as Superintendent until 1904 and then continued to offer support and attend meetings, when her strength allowed, until her death in 1915 aged 87.


Whibley6                             To the Glory of God And in grateful and loving memory of
Mrs Mark Ives Whibley
1828 -1915
This tablet is placed in the Hall of the
Castle End Mission Cambridge
September 20 1920
Commencing her work at Castle End in 1879 Mrs Whibley Made the Mission the great purpose of her life. Through Her prayers And untiring zeal this Mission Hall and Institute was built in 1884. From that time to within A few years of her death in 1915 her soul was in the Work and she superintended it with great devotion Faith and patience and a firm belief in the Power of Christ to redeem. To her came the joy Of continued success and this mission is a monument. To her memory.

Memorial Plaque in the Castle End Mission.


Booklet published for Castle End Mission Centenary  1979.   History of the County of Cambridge JPC Roach 1959.   Assistance from John Kendall - Castle End Mission     Lavington Hart of Tientsin pub Cullen  1947  

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