Dr Astley Vavasour Clarke and Ethel (Poppy) Clarke, 113 Princess Road East
In 1912 Lansdowne House (113 Princess Road East) became the home to Astley and Poppy Clarke and their three children. If any single individual can be identified as the 'founder' of the University of Leicester, it is Astley Clarke. He had first made the case for Leicester to have its own University in his presidential address to the town's Literary and Philosophical Society in 1912. When the idea was revived towards the end of World War I, Clarke became the driving force behind efforts to gain local support and raise funds leading to the establishment of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College in 1921.
Backstory and Context
Astley was an enthusiastic supporter of the Territorial Army and already
a Lt. Colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps Reserve before the outbreak of
the War. In 1913 he was given the rank
of Colonel and became Administrator of the 5th Northern General
Hospital in the former County Lunatic Asylum building, now the University of Leicester's Fielding Johnson
Building. However, he was soon promoted
to Assistant Director of Medical Services, North Midlands Division. In about 1917 he became ill through overwork
and was invalided out with heart trouble, spending several months convalescing
at home. He was then, once again, given
charge of the 5th Northern.
Maclean, Margaret. 'Dr Astley Vavasour Clarke (7 February 1870 – 21 February 1945)' (unpublished exhibition text). University of Leicester Archives & Special Collections.