Houghton Hall

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Houghton Hall is quoted in several Scout references as a meeting place. The OLEM History (below) explains the story of the building.  One section served as the men’s clubroom and the remainder as a hall for the school and parish organizations. It served as the home for the revived 17th Cambridge (Catholic) Troop and later the Wolf Cubs.

The building now in Ditton is given as being in use as ‘Houghton Hall’ between 1920 and 1936 in the OLEM history. Houghton Hall is very clearly recorded as being the site of the first named Cambridge ‘Gang Show’ in December 1937 in Union Road; presumably a replacement building. A Houghton Hall was in Union Road was being used for a Scout activity in 1952.

Patrol Leaders meeting Feb 1952 with Haydn Dimmock

The original physical building went through several locations and roles.

History of St Vincent de Paul, Ditton

  • First Eastern General Hospital                                                            1914 – 1920
  • Houghton Hall                                     Union Road (off Hills Rd) Rectory Gardens of OLEM 1920 – 1936/7?
  • St Laurence’s                                       High Street Chesterton          1939 – 1956
  • St Vincent de Paul                               Ditton Lane                             1956 – date

The present building started life as part of the First Eastern General Hospital on Newmarket Road.  At the end of WWI, a number of prefabricated war-surplus buildings were being disbanded. A benefactor, Baron Anatole Von Hügel, paid the cost –said to be £250 – and it was moved to the Rectory garden (now St. Alban’s School) in 1920, and named Houghton Hall.  It served the Parish there until 1936.  

In 1939, it was re-erected in High Street, Chesterton and named St. Laurence’s.  Following the opening of a new St. Laurence’s Church on Milton Road in 1958, the ‘tin tabernacle’ was moved over the river and re-erected on Ditton Lane.  For many years it was in a very precarious condition, until Mgr. Anthony Philpot invited the then Parish Architect to provide a design for re-ordering. “The result was a dramatic and wonderful transformation.  By turning everything round ninety degrees a quite different ambience for worship was created, and … it signalled a significant revival in that community’s life” (Modern Times,1960 – 1990,  by Mgr Anthony Rogers in: Catholics In Cambridge, edited by Nicholas Rogers, 2003).

Baron Anatole Von Hügel was also an early member of the District Scout Committee.

It is named after St John Houghton, the first martyr of the English Reformation.

JWR Archivist May 2020