Miss Frances Wilbraham

Red Leaf Flowers

Frances Wilbraham played a prominent role in the history of the city during the cholera epidemic of 1866.

Frances moved to Chester in 1861, living at 5 Kings Buildings with her mother and sisters. At the time Chester was filthy with rubbish lying around, open cess pools and pig-styes among the houses.

In May 1866 there was a cholera outbreak in Cheshire, probably caused by contaminated drinking water from a cattle plague in which 40,000 cattle died.

Frances volunteered to work at the workhouse in Handbridge, which was set up to treat cholera patients. That hospital became fulland another was opened in what is now Westminster Park, with Frances and Miss Ayckbowmtaking day and night shifts so that “patients should never be left without one or other being present, and so these gallant ladies laboured incessantly until the close of the epidemic” (Simpson 1928).

Seeds Green Leaf

When the cases gradually stopped in November, a service of thanksgiving was held in St Martin’s Church. A procession of nurses, convalescents and friends travelled from the hospital to the church and then on to the school room on Crook Street which had been decorated for a tea.

“Miss Frances Wilbraham, always widely and keenly sympathetic to all who were in sorrow or need, worked hard for, and gave liberally to, every deserving organisation in Chester having for its object amelioration or suffering.” (Simpson 1928).

The Duke of Westminster gave her the title “The Florence Nightingale of Chester”.

Miss Wilbraham was the author of several works including:

Cheshire Pilgrims, 1862

The Sere and Yellow Leaf 1884

The Blue Posts of Chester, a local story of the days of Queen Elizabeth I

Streets and Lanes of a City, written from her diary of the cholera epidemic. There is a copy in the Storyhouselibrary as well as the Chester Archives.

Where can you find traces of Miss Wilbraham in Chester today?

She lived on King Street which is very close to the car park, just to the north.

The temporary hospital she managed was located inwhat is now the Grosvenor Park, well worth a visit, with play areas, beautiful flowers, sculptures, a miniature train and steps down to the river.


SIMPSON, F., 1928. A Few Cheshire Worthies. Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society 28 (1)

Miss Frances Wilbraham Source: