News & Events

Caroline Gladstone, performer, seamstress and pianist

May 1, 2019

Caroline Gladstone was ‘admitted’ into the Old Actors Homes in 1907 after the Australasian Dramatic and Musical Association (ADMA) had merged with the Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria.

She was one of five actors,  formerly ADMA included in the merger under their original conditions. The others were John Riley, William Dibdin Bates, Joshua Henwood and Thomas Holland.

Caroline was born in London in 1830 at the Strand and first arrived  in Tasmania, moving to Melbourne in 1857 with her husband George.  Both actors in pantomime and comedy, the Gladstones were engaged by George Coppin, and wooed the audience in the early days at the Theatre Royal and at a ‘place of amusement’ in Queen Street[1].   A few years later in 1872, Caroline appeared as Queen Elizabeth 1 at the Theatre Royal to rave reviews: ‘The powerful acting of Mrs Gladstone elicited frequent bursts of applause!’[2]

According to the Electoral Rolls (1903 to 1913), Caroline moved into  the village  as ‘Matron’ of the Musical and Dramatic Homes. In 1907 at the time of merger, she  remained in Avon Lodge, a cottage which was built and endowed by ADMA, no longer Matron, but OCAV resident.

She was a woman of many attributes: an actor, seamstress and pianist but she did not read often. According to her, reading ‘wears out the eyes.”[3]

She was quite a character, according to an article which describes her as ‘a very energetic little lady who loves to be out in the open.  Even on cold, wet days she is about in her strong boots.  Over 80 years old and she doesn’t wear specs! She can ‘thread a ten needle with 60 cotton!


[1] Age Sat 11/8/1917 p24
[2] Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston) 14/2/1872 p2
[3] Weekly Times Saturday 25 March 1911 p13’

Volunteering is important to Deb, enabling her to contribute in the aged care sector. “I love it when the residents get downright cheeky. I love it when we get a bit too loud with laughing."

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