Sailors from all over the world came to Docklands. Many needed a place to stay while they waited for their ships to be loaded and a number of seamen’s hostels were founded, often by missionary societies, to provide cheap, short-term accommodation. George Sims, 1900 The Sailors Palace was known for the quality of the accommodation provided.
The British and Foreign Sailors Society was formed to assist merchant sailors whilst in London. The Society first opened a hostel in an old war sloop on the Thames in 1818 and then opened a sailor’s institute in Shadwell in 1856. By the turn of the century the Society was working in more than a hundred ports across the world. But with the lease of the headquarters at Shadwell about to expire and The expansion of the London Docks and the expiration of the Shadwell lease caused the Society to look for a new home. Edwards was attracted by the Society’s temperance principles and because he saw the proposals, a home where sailors of all nationalities would find shelter, as creating an international peace centre. He offered to build a building for their new headquarters, estimated at £5,000. As the proposals developed the costs, and Edwards’ contribution, increased. He eventually gave £14,000, the greatest amount ever received by the Society from one person. Edwards said that although he had cooperated with many others, and in many ways, to improve the conditions of life, nothing had given him more satisfaction than his active connection with the Society. The architects Niven and Wigglesworth were chosen to design the building, fronting on to the East India Dock Road, Limehouse, close to the docks and similar homes for foreign sailors, and the foundation stone was laid in 1901. By the time the ‘Sailor’s Palace’ was opened by the Prince of Wales, in May 1903, the cost had risen to £18,000 but the total costs were more than £30,000, contributions arriving from Heads of State, associations, and individuals, across the world.
The building is predominately of brick, with bands of Portland stone and arched windows at ground-floor level. The main entrance and turreted gatehouse, described as a very free Tudor adaptation, is the dominant feature of the building with a magnificent figurehead of Britannia, carved in Portland Stone above the doorway, holding a ship in each hand, behind which a cherub blowing wind into its sails. Around the arch of the door, below the figurehead, are names of the continents: AMERICA AFRICA OCEANIA AUSTRALIA ASIA EUROPE, whilst above her head are the names of the 4 winds, EURUS – NOTUS – BOREAS – ZEPHYRUS. Above Britannia is a lead plaque inscribed with the “Passmore Edwards Sailors Palace” and “British & Foreign Sailors Association”. The ornamental plaques are continued around the building in keeping with the Arts & Craft Movement.
On the ground floor were the Albert Victor Sailors’ Rest, and accommodation for the ordinary sailors, the American Room, a temperance restaurant and the smoking room whilst the first floor accommodated the Society’s offices and Boardroom, and the Passmore Edwards Ocean Library. On the second floor was the officers’ and apprentices’ flat and on the top floor, an observatory, navigation room and staff accommodation. The addition of the Alexandra Wing, named after the Queen, almost doubled the size of the original proposal and contained a hall, Captain’s and officer’s dining room, a tearoom and the King Edward VII Nautical School.
The nautical school was for the training of officers for the Merchant Navy. In 1926 the school was recognised by the London County Council as a Technical School and in 1949 the LCC implemented a scheme by which senior courses were established at Sir John Cass College, while junior courses remained at the King Edward VII School. During the 1960s the Department of Navigation at Sir John Cass College merged with the King Edward VII Nautical College and moved from East Indian Dock Road to a new building at Tower Hill, London. At the same time Jack’s palace was closed and the building sold to the Toynbee Housing Association, today providing much needed social housing. Since 1995 the Society has been known as the British and International Sailors’ Society, and still works for the ‘material, moral and spiritual welfare of seafarers in ports throughout the world’. Edwards was amused that the hostel became to be known as Jack’s Palace. He had been known as Jack when a lad and had now provided a home for sailors away from home.
When the demand at the Friendly Societies Convalescent Home at Dover exceeded the accommodation available, they called upon Passmore Edwards for assistance.
In 1889 Mrs Charlotte R Rusher handed over the London and Dover Convalescent Home, a home that she had established some thirty years previously, to J E Nichols, George Vaughan and W H Chinn, all members of the South London District of the Manchester Unity, and also members of the Ancient Order of Foresters. The gift consisted of two leasehold houses, fully furnished to accommodate 80 patients and a sum of £750 invested in Consols, the whole to be used for the purposes of a Convalescent Home for members of the Manchester Unity and other Registered Friendly Societies. The total value of the gift was estimated at £4000. Thus came into being the first Friendly Societies Convalescent Homes. It was not long before the accommodation proved insufficient to meet demand but attempts to locate additional premises in Dover were unsuccessful. Although, with nearly 3 million members, the Friendly Societies had capital of over £23 million pounds, the use of this was restricted, by Act of parliament, to met the sickness, funeral and other liabilities and none was available to purchase a Convalescent Home. Provision could be made, within the 1½or 2d per week ( less than 1p) contributed by members for purposes other than sickness and funeral benefits, for maintenance of a Home but without additional outside help the capital needed could never be found. Passmore Edwards, hearing of the need, offered to build a Home to accommodate 50 patients, at a cost of not exceeding £6,000, on a site that the Society had located at Herne Bay.
The chosen site, 7½ acres on the Beltange estate, on the cliffs east of the town of Herne Bay was just ¼ mile form the sea and had a road frontage of 300 feet. Alfred Saxon Snell was appointed as architect and after his plans were agreed with Passmore Edwards building commenced, the foundation stone being laid on Saturday 6 November 1897. It was soon clear that the total cost of the Home was going to exceed the amount offered by Passmore Edwards and the Trustees made an appeal to the Friendly Societies and Branches operating in London to finance the undertaking and take on the liability for its future maintenance. This appeal was not entirely successful and the Trustees applied to the Charity Commissioners for registration as a charity. The design proposed by Saxon Snell was to accommodate 50 residents on three floors. Built of Canterbury red brick with Monks Park bath stone dressings under a Brosely red tile roof the design was said to avoid the idea of an “institution” as opposed to a “home” and also to permit additions without materially interfering with the original building.
On the ground floor the wide front entrance porch led to a small hall, with fireplace, and hence to the main staircase, which was top lighted. A corridor branched to the left and right of the entrance hall leading to the patient’s day rooms and the administrative offices. The day accommodation comprised a large general sitting and smoking room overlooking the gardens at the rear. In the front of the sitting room was the reading room and library with a large circular bay overlooking the front garden. A dormitory was provided on the lower floor for those who would find ascending the main staircase difficult or impossible. A large lavatory, with wash basins and resident’s lockers, and a bathroom was also provided on the ground floor. The dining hall, a large room 38ft by 21ft lighted by both end bays and side windows, included a raised platform at one end so that the room could be used for concerts and other entertainment. Also on the ground floor were rooms for the Master and Matron and a large kitchen. On the first floor were five dormitories for 10, 8, 6 and two for 4 beds each. The staff and servants rooms were also on this floor. On the second floor, and partly in the roof, were three dormitories for 3 beds each, one for 4 beds and one for 1 bed. All internal walls were plastered and all day rooms a cement dado. The ground floor hall, corridors and verandahs were paved with tiles. During WW1 the Home was requisitioned by the War Department, as was the adjacent Railwaymen’s Convalescent Home, also funded by Passmore Edwards, and temporary arrangements were made to accommodate patients at a Hotel in Westgate.
It was not until 1919 that the Home was returned to the Societies and reopened. Immediately after the cessation of the war the South London District of the Order undertook to defray the costs of building and equipping the first extension, a wing to accommodate 20 patients. This ward dedicated to the memory of members who died in the war to end all wars was opened in 1923. In the meantime plans were prepared for extending the accommodation for men and in 1928 an additional wing was opened for a further 30 patients. In 1929 an adjoining parcel of 2½ acres of land was acquired for future use and to protect the Home from unsightly building developments. A further extension was provided by the South London District, this time for an additional 10 women, was opened in 1930. In 1934 a new patient’s reception and consulting room was completed and in 1935 outside workshops and stores for ground staff. By this time available accommodation had reached 130 beds, the majority being in separate cubicles with adequate bathing and toilet arrangements. The grounds, of over 15 acres were laid out to provide pleasant walks and relaxation areas as well as fruit and vegetable gardens sufficient for the Home’s needs At the outbreak of WW2 the area became a prohibited area and the residents had to move out once more. The Ministry of Health took over the buildings and operated an Emergency Hospital for many troops stationed in the area and then as a rest home for evacuated from bombed out houses within the coastal towns. In 1944 the Kent County Council made proposals to use the Home for the treatment of persons suffering from TB but the Trustees argued against this on the basis that this would prejudice subsequent use as a Convalescent Home due to fear amongst patients of infection. The County Council then proposed to use the home as a nursery for the many unwanted and orphan children as a result of the war. It was difficult for the Trustees to argue their own case without detriment to the children but eventually the Council decided to build elsewhere but it was 1949 before the Home reopened. Over the years the building demanded even more resources in modernisation and repair and a decision was taken in the 1980’s to replace the Passmore Edwards building with a modern structure, after 100 years of use.
Both Passmore Edwards and his wife were actively involved in the Charing Cross Hospital. When the hospital were finding difficulty in raising all of the money they needed to build a Convalescent Home, Edwards, as usual, stepped in to say that he would fund it.
The Charing Cross Hospital was founded by in 1821 by Dr Benjamin Golding, who first opened his home to treat the poor in 1815. Initially called the Royal West London Infirmary & Lying in Institution the title was changed to the Charing Cross Hospital in 1827 and the purpose built hospital and medical school opened in 1834. The hospital had treated over 370,000 patients by the time of Golding’s death in 1863 and continued to prosper and expand over the years to reflect both the growth of the area and scientific advances in medicine. As a charity the hospital depended on subscriptions and donations and the ‘Roll of Great Benefactors’ is lengthy. It is not known when Passmore Edwards first became involved with the hospital but by 1896 he had given £11,749 towards their work. But Edwards did not only give his money. Both he and his wife, Eleanor, were to take an active part in the support of the hospital over a number of years. It was usual that local ladies were the backbone of many of the hospitals that existed at that time, working not only to provide the funds to construct or maintain the hospital but also to produce much needed linen for the hospital’s use. Eleanor was a member of the Ladies Guild at Charing Cross, which apart from fundraising held soirees, where the ladies gathered together to sew garments and the other linen necessary for use in the hospital. In 1890 it was the task of making a hundred flannel garments for patients that occupied them. Around the same time Passmore Edwards, who was on the Board of Governors, gave books to form a library for the Nurses apartments. In 1888 an appeal was launched to finance a Convalescent Home but Edwards was dismayed at the slow progress. At the Triennial Festival Dinner of 1891, the Lord Mayor, who was presiding, read a letter from Passmore Edwards asking for ‘the privilege to be allowed to build and furnish at his own expense a convalescent home to accommodate fifty beds’. As evidence of his sincerity he enclosed a cheque for £5,000 and an undertaking to send the remainder of the estimated cost when the foundation stone was laid. Initially it was proposed that the Home would be built at Clacton but this was thought to be too bleak during the winter months and an alternative site was looked for within 30 miles of London. When the local gentry heard of their interest in a site at Reigate they put pressure on the landowner and effectually prevented the sale. The next site they looked at was at Sevenoaks but again the negotiations were defeated by collusion amongst the local landowners, as were negotiations for a site near Limpsfield. The well to do clearly felt that the poor and needy of London should ‘know their place’ and that was not as their country neighbours. It was at this stage that Edwards stepped in once more to take an active part in the negotiations. Learning of a similar site, a farm at Limpsfield, he attended the auction, arriving early and sitting at the front, daring not to look right or left in case he was recognised. The farm was the last lot to be auctioned so after sitting for two hours Edwards bid for and purchased it for £4,100. Even then, when it became known who had made the purchase, and for what purpose, the landowners gathered around to try to persuade him to surrender his bargain. The landowners’ actions were, perhaps, understandable, as Limpsfield became a favourite place for the building of schools and institutions. As well as the Charing Cross Convalescent Home there was the Caxton Home, built by Passmore Edwards in 1894 for the members of the printing trade, a Convalescent home for women and children, a home for boys on the edge of the village and a school and home for children of missionaries working abroad. The Charing Cross Hospital Home was opened by the Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Princess of Wales and Princess Victoria, on 12 July 1896. The presence of the Prince was enough to ensure a large company of other worthies attended, with the potential for being signed up as contributors and supporters, and a special excursion train carried the guests from London. Designed by J J Thomson, the Home stands on an escarpment with fine views for many miles around as the land drops quickly away just a few yards from the front elevation. A copy of an Ordnance Survey map that appeared at auction in 2006 suggested that the Convalescent Home was earmarked to play a vital role during the Second World War, as a secret command centre for use by Churchill at a time of invasion, but there was little additional evidence to support this suggestion.
Although Edwards’ one condition in providing the Home was that the Hospital should remain in perpetuity under the control of the Governors and Council of Charing Cross Hospital, this was not to prevent them selling the home to The National Sailors and Firemen’s Union in the 1920s and eventually, in 1959, it to the Marie Curie Cancer Care Charity. The building was used as a research Institute for the Charity, with more than 70 world class scientists publishing groundbreaking work on bladder and skin cancer. However, a reorganisation at Marie Curie resulted in the closure of the centre putting the Passmore Edwards building at risk. After standing empty for some time it was sold and redeveloped as housing.
One of almost 200 homes founded by the Ragged School Union, the Holiday Home for Crippled Children at Bournemouth was funded by Passmore Edwards to accomodate 20 children.
Passmore Edwards was approached by John Kirk, the Secretary of the Ragged School Union and Shaftesbury Society for help with funding of a further home for crippled children, which he suggested should be located at Bournemouth, where Capt. and Mrs Harrison had already rented a house as a temporary home. Passmore Edwards agreed and without a formal foundation stone laying Mssrs McWilliam & Sons, of Bournemouth were commenced building the home to the design of the architect, Frederick Warman. The home was opened on 14 June 1898 by the Marquis of Northampton, President of the Ragged School Union, who expressed his greatest satisfaction in being present to perform such a pleasant duty. He said that the Home could not fail to be of service, as many would by its assistance be strengthened, and others probably completely restored. Cases had occurred in some of the Ragged School Union Homes of children who came as helpless cripples, and returned able to walk; and all, whether their stay in the Homes was long or short, were more or less benefited. Their Bournemouth Home, to accommodate 20 children, was intended to be a home in the best sense of the word; and it would, strictly speaking, be a holiday home. Under the doctor’s advice and attention, the little ones would have good air, shelter, care protection and healthy and agreeable recreation. The Home was built close to Alum Chine and the sea in one of the most picturesque districts of Bournemouth. It originally catered for 23 children, the majority from London but occasionally including local boys or girls, under the control of Miss Scott, the Matron, with only two assistants. The staff undoubtedly worked very hard since some of the children were unable even to feed themselves. The average stay was usually six months but a few stayed much longer.
A reporter writing in the Bournemouth Graphic in February 1903 described the children she saw there. ” The youngest, a child of three, suffering from a bad form of rickets and with legs bandaged in splints, and utterly helpless, I found amusing itself with a huge rag doll, a recent gift to the Home. It was a delightfully warm morning and all those unable to walk were lying in invalid carriages out of door, breathing the pure, clean air which is such an essential part of their cure here, though it made one’s heart ache to think that many of these little suffers would never be able to walk, for the majority of the cases treated are either spinal curvature or hip disease. This home is intended to complete the cure often commenced in hospital or the operating theatre, and the children are sent to be nursed slowly back to health.” “Those that were able to walk were preparing to go down to the beach where they had a pleasant little shelter of their own which makes a splendid playhouse and prevents the children from getting wet in case of showers. Very gentle and kindly they appear to one another; one boy carefully lifting a tiny tot, partially paralysed, into a mailcart and wheeling him away. Indeed the question of locomotion is a difficult one, as it is not easy to ascend and descend Alum Chine and two nurses cannot wheel a dozen heavy boys and girls, or superintend cases continuously in a recumbent position, as many of these are, and so some day they are hoping that some charitably disposed friend will present a pony or donkey and cart to the Institution”. Whether as a direct result of this report is not recorded but photograph appeared in the Shaftesbury Society Magazine of 1917 showing the children in a donkey cart outside the Home.
The cost of the maintenance of the Home was met by the Ragged School Union but the people of Bournemouth were ready contributors, providing £100 per year whilst local ladies gave of their time, teaching, visiting or generally amusing the children. Sometimes the children were invited out to tea in Bournemouth homes and many gifts of clothing or cakes were received. An annual concert was held in the Bourne Hall with the proceeds going to the Home. An additional wing was added in 1905, opened by the Lady Ashley, providing accommodation, on the ground floor, for children unable to be taken upstairs to the original dormitories. Previously the ground floor playroom had been converted into a dormitory for these children and a temporary playroom established upstairs In November 1916 the winter gales wrecked the beach shelter that had been the gift of readers of the “Sunday Companion” A new appeal was launched by the magazine to replace the shelter the following summer. Recognising the need to provide an education during the lengthy stays, part time teachers had been appointed but at the end of 1916 the Home was registered as a “residential school for crippled children”. At the beginning of 1917 Miss Amy Bradbury was appointed as the first full time teacher. The School log for 18 Jan 1917 records that there was no school during the afternoon in view of the opening ceremony by the Lord Bishop of London, At that time the Shaftesbury Society had more than 7000 names of handicapped children on their register, from 5 to 10 years of age, suffering from “tuberculosis or other diseases of bones or joints, crippling from infantile paralysis or accident”. The Home and school continued to grow, an open air School House being erected in 1920 and in August 1925 the adjacent property, Hope Lodge, was purchased, to be used entirely for sleeping quarters, increasing the accommodation from 30 to 52 children. Miss Gertrude B Dyer replaced Miss Bradbury as head teacher in 1919 and remained at the school until her retirement in 1944. Some 1168 pupils had passed through the School during her time. Classes were often conducted out of doors or on the beach and in September 1931, “38 of the best walkers were taken to Studland Bay”. Charles Irwin was one of the many children who passed through the home during this time. His account does not, however, paint the rosy picture given in the official files. The account of a young woman who went to work at the home in 1932 similarly paints a more rigorous life for both staff and pupils. As the types of handicap provided for became more severe it became evident that the Almhurst Road premises were no longer adequate and a decision was taken in spring 1956 to purchase a new site and construct new purpose built premises at an estimated cost of between £50,000 and £60,000.
The new Home, now the Victoria School, was opened at Lindsay Road, Branksome in 1958 in the presence of the Earl of Shaftesbury, president of the Shaftesbury Society, of which the Home is a branch. The new home, situated adjacent to a Carmelite Monastery, was opened by his daughter Lady Dorothea who had also laid the foundation stone two years earlier. During the week there was a gala ball at the Bournemouth Pavilion which raised over £200 for the Home. The highlight of the evening was a visit to the Home by Cyril Fletcher who sent a message of thanks from the children to the Pavilion by a relay of torch bearers. He later attended the gala evening to entertain the audience with his “odd odes”. At a total cost of £70,000 the new premises provided top floor accommodation for the nursing staff and a large well-equipped playroom on the ground floor, two classrooms, and a treatment room with indoor bath for water exercises. A lift was installed and children are accommodated in 4 “family “groups. The building was electrically heated with its own laundry, a sick bay and isolation unit and is set in spacious grounds with outdoor paddling pool and a tennis court for the staff. Under Miss P Simmonds, Matron, Miss M Jones, headmistress, Miss D Forrester, physiotherapist, Mrs R Beale, Chairman, and the surgeons, nurses, teachers and other staff the Victoria Home and School continued to serve. In the mid 1960’s the original Victoria Home in Almhurst Road was demolished and replaced with residential flats called “Burnaby Court.
Victoria Education Centre
The Victoria Education Centre remains part of the Shaftesbury Society, a national Christian Charity providing care, education and support for children, students and adults with disabilities at over 50 sites. Today, the Victoria Centre, comprising School, Carmel House for post 16 students, Residential Departments, Victoria Horticulture Centre and Centre for Assessment and Therapy, is recognised as one of the finest specialist centres of its kind.
Passmore Edwards provided £6,000 towards the total cost of £10,000 for this Sunday School Union home at Clacton on Sea.
“The home was opened on the 15 June 1899 by the Right Hon the Earl of Aberdeen. It was situated at the east end of the Marine Parade, Clacton on Sea. Standing in its own grounds of about one and three quarter acres, it commands a splendid view of the sea and of the country inland.” So began a short description of this Sunday School Union Children’s Holiday home published ca 1912.
The total cost of the building including land (£1000), furniture and road making, fencing. legal, architectural, and other expenses, was nearly £10,000. Towards this sum Passmore Edwards contributed £6,000.
The description of the Home, which was included in an appeal for financial support, stated that “On the ground floor are to be found splendid dining and play rooms 90 feet by 25, with windows fronting the sea. On the first and second floors are the dormitories, divided into two distinct groups for boys and girls. The rooms are of ample dimensions and no effort has been spared to make them bright and healthful. They overlook the sea, are well lighted and ventilated, and furnished with a view to home suggestion and comfort.”
“The cots are single ones, all of them bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name of the school or friend who has presented it to the Home”. “The playgrounds around the Home are spacious and have been fitted with swings and giant sstrides (sic). The Home accommodates over one hundred children, and is under the charge of Miss Jenkinson, the Matron, and is admirably managed.” The Home was open all the year round.
During WW2 the building was used as the headquarters for the Royal Artillery Ack Ack gun sites situated along the sea front, a situation that would not have been to Passmore Edwards liking considering his views on war. At the end of the war negotiations were commenced with the Essex County Council to purchase the home and these were completed by 1947/8 when the home finally closed and was reopened, in September 1950 for the treatment and convalescence of TB patients. By this time the National Health Service had been created and the Regional Hospital Board that acquired the building, spent £11,000 on the repairs necessary following its occupation by the troops during the war. The National Christian Education Council, formerly the National Sunday School Union,opened the Children’s Convalescent Home, Broadlands, Broadstairs, in July 1948 following the closure of the home at Clacton on Sea.
As the scourge of TB was eliminated the need for the hospital at Clacton reduced and work began to convert the Passmore Edwards building once more, this time to provide a Rehabilitation Centre. By March 1960 the adaption of the building was complete and the first patients arrived in April 1961.
Enid A Walsh, writing in the Essex Countryside Magazine in 1974 said that “This lovely house situated on the East Cliff with large lofty rooms, almost all overlooking the sea, built facing South proved a perfect choice”. An additional block of single storey buildings was constructed in 1964 for physio and occupational therapy. Under the directorship of Dr J B Millard and the rehabilitation Officer, Mr Maxwell Reid, 100 patients could be treated simultaneously. Patients were admitted when they no longer needed nursing care but would benefit from therapeutic treatment. A self contained unit existed where patients, disabled, perhaps from a stroke, could learn to care for themselves once more. 70% of the patients that left the Home were capable of returning to employment. Later a special unit was created to develop the supply of artificial limbs.
The Passmore Edwards Rehabilitation Centre finally closed in 1985 and the building demolished in 1986 to be replaced by residential flats known as Hestletine Court. Built in dark yellow brick with red metal work balconies the design was far from the inspirational architecture of the Passmore Edwards era. However, local old folk still refer to that point along the sea front as “Along by Passmore Edwards”.
Orginally built as a private residence in the 1770s, Westwood House, Sydenham, was purchased by Passmore Edwards and adapted to become Passmore Edwards House, an orphanage for the children of teachers.
The Benevolent and Orphan Fund of the National Union of Teachers was founded in 1877, to assist teachers in temporary distress by way of loans and gifts, to grant annuities up to £34 to teachers or their widows, to erect and maintain orphanages, to assist consumptive teachers to sanatoriun treatment, to make home allaowances of 5s and 7s 6d per week and special grants of 2s 6d and 3s 6d a week for the benefit of the orphans and necessitous children of teachers. (1912 Encyclopedia) The Fund initally maintained two homes, one at Page Hall, Sheffield, for girls, and another at Peckham, for boys. These soon became insufficient to meet the needs of the Union and steps were taken to secure a larger and more secure home. Mr Richard Greenwood, a veteran of the teaching world and zealous member of the Benelovent Fund Committee, laid the facts before Passmore Edwards, which resulted in an undertaking to to build a Teachers’ Orphanage “to cost not less than £6,000”. In searching for a site for the proposed institution it was ascertained that an exceptionall suitable and commodious building, Westwood House, Sydenham, was for sale. Westwood House had been built in 1766 on the site of an inn, called either the “Three Compasses” or “World’s End”, and bought by David Ximenes a Sephardi Jewish Merchant(#). Lady Charlotte Campbell, a lady in waiting to Caroline, Princess of Wales, was one of the most notable later residents and lived there from about 1812 to 1818, and possibly later. In 1874, Henry Littleton, of Novello & Co purchased the house and employed J L Pearson to carry out alterations and “remodel it as a Renaissance fantasy palace with a magnificent music room as its centrepiece”.This was not completed until about 1881. Both Liszt and Dvorak stayed there whilst visiting Crystal Palace and Liszt gave one of his last piano recitals in the music room in 1886. The house stood in 5 acres of beautiful grounds, gardens, paddocks and lawns. It was said that the fireplace alone had cost £1000 and no expense had been spared of the rest of the house. The doors were elaboratly carved mahogany and the principal staircase ornamented by sculptured figures on the newals. The great feature of the house, the music salon was fitted in richly carved woods with a minstrals gallery at one end. The “winter gardens” had domed roofs. It would appear an unlikely choice for an orphanage but it was said that the alterations necessary to make the house suitable for its new use were carried out so as not to detract from the beauty of the house. The coachhouses were utilised for workshops and a gymnasium. On Saturday 23 September 1899, the home was officially opened by Passmore Edwards before a crowd which included 1,200 teachers. Passmore Edwards was presented with a key to the building on which was engraved “Old and young in the years to come will rise up and call you blessed” An acount of the Opening is was published in the Schoolmaster on 30 September 1899 [# Information on Westwood House includes that given in “Sydenham and Forest Hill Past” by John Coulter.]
“It seemed as if countless centuries had been preparing the place for its purpose, and that some wise light had guided our footsteps there”. A visitor to Pegwell Bay Convalescent Home.
The history of the Workingmen’s Club and Institute Union parallels that of the trade union movement in Britain. Though employment legislation had increased both wages and leisure time there was little opportunity to use the increased leisure time in a positive way. There was nowhere the working classes could meet, other than the public house, and little opportunity to improve their lives through education. Lord Broughton had already given support to Mechanics’ Institutes, founded by Dr Birkbeck, but men wanted somewhere to relax and develop new friendships, not just follow a hard days work with an evening at school. Whilst the Rev Henry Sully, a Unitarian, was the founder of the Club and Institute Union, it was Hodgson Pratt, the peace activist and another Unitarian, who made it work. The Union, formed to support and consolidate the workingmen’s social clubs that were beginning to form throughout the country, was established in 1862 at an inaugural meeting funded by Lord Brougham and who became the first President. In 1865 Hodgson Pratt was elected to the Council and in 1869 he became chairman of the Executive Committee. Sully, who was against permitting smoking and the sale alcohol in the clubs resigned in 1867. As far back as 1878 the Union’s Council attempted to provide a Seaside Home for members and families. A large house at Margate was leased and converted to accommodate members and their families, at 3s 6d a week for a bed or 6s 6d for a family room. But the cost of maintaining the home throughout the year, whilst the home was used only during the summer months, led to increasing debts and closure after only two years. In February 1892, the Council tried again, resolving to ‘take into consideration the advisability of a Convalescent Home, and that a committee be appointed for the purpose of drawing up a scheme’. The appointed committee produced a very modest scheme, estimating an annual cost of £600 a year and subscriptions from the clubs varying from one to four guineas, but there was little support from the individual clubs and the proposals fell flat. Passmore Edwards was very supportive of the Workingmen’s Clubs movement, attending the Union’s AGM as early as 1881. When he funded the Perranporth Convalescent Home, in 1892, Pratt made him aware of the Union’s aims and in June 1893, reported back to B T Hall, Secretary of the Union, that Edwards would like to see a deputation on the matter. After hearing of the Union’s plans and receiving assurances that that the Union would guarantee to keep a home going Edwards brought the meeting to a conclusion with ‘very well, go and find your site, and I will buy it, and build you a home on it’.
The Pegwell Home
The search for a suitable site proved a difficult a task and it was Passmore Edwards, who in May 1894 informed them that he had purchased a disused hotel and grounds at Pegwell Bay, in Kent, which he thought would suit their purposes. In fact on inspection by the Secretary it was found that the builders and decorators were already on site and the was conversion almost complete. All that was left to do was to provide the furnishings and appoint staff. An urgent appeal for funds to furnish the Home raised £250 in two months, clubs or individuals being asked for £5 and for which the name of the donor would be fixed over the door of a room within the Home. On the August Bank holiday of 1894 Passmore Edwards opened the Pegwell Home, in the presence of Hodgson Pratt, the Mayor of Ramsgate, Alderman Blackburn, and 600 Club members who cheerily braved the typical Bank Holiday stormy weather.
From that stormy start the Home was an immediate success. As each resident returned to his club he told of its charms and its fame spread far and wide. Excursions organised by the Committee took tens of thousands of men from the London clubs to Pegwell for the day. The Home opened to accommodate 32 members, but within a couple of years it was clear that an extension would be required, even though there were no funds available at that time. An appeal went out to the clubs and, on the advice of Passmore Edwards, who suggested adding a central tower and provided £500 towards it, Maurice Adams was engaged to prepare drawings. Bedrooms with bathrooms were added, and communal wash rooms on each floor, an arrangement said to be ‘of great economy and infinitely more satisfactory to residents’. Initially residents needed to wash in the bedrooms, Altogether the first extension cost £6,471, of which the tower accounted for £1,200, and a further £600 was required for furnishings. Eleanor Edwards laid the foundation stone on 10 July 1897 and just 12 months later, on 2 July 1898, her husband opened the new wing, raising the accommodation to 62. The response of the clubs to the debt created from the building works was enormous and it was cleared by 1905 when the committee again met to consider further expansion. The next project was to demolish and replace the wing on the terrace and this was opened on Easter Monday, 1906. Finally, building works were completed in 1914, when a wing was added to the bedroom block, bringing the accommodation to 72, and a cafe opposite the main entrance was purchased and pulled down to make room for a small bowling green and garden. In January 1919, Herbert Samuel Boyland, who had worked as superintendent of the Home since the opening in 1894, passed away suddenly at the age of 58. The service that he and his wife, the Matron, had given to the Home had won the affection of thousands and their testaments appeared on club notice boards across the country. Mrs Boyland continued in her post for a further 8 years before retiring after 33 years service. One of the workingmen who stayed at teh home was Ernest Jones, born around 1877 in Birmingham. After serving in both the RNAS and the RAF repairing the early aeroplanes he settled down in Willesdon with his wife Emily, working at a local radiator factory. In early 1925 he was taken ill and admitted to the Passmore Edwards hospital. He was found to be suffering from cancer and was discharged but as a member of the Workingmen’s Club he was entitled to a stay at the Pegwell Home. Ernest was at Pegwell Bay in July and wrote home that he felt well enough to take the tram for a trip to Broadstairs. However his improvement was short lived and he died a few months later.
Postcards It became a custom at both the Pegwell Home and the Railwaymen’s home at Herne Bay for photographs to be taken of the homes and of the regular turnaround of patients who attended them. These were available to the patients to send home to their families and friends. Examples of these postcards can be found on ebay and many, found amongst a deceased relative’s belongings, have been sent to me with a few details of the family member. Unfortunately the Union has no records of who stayed at the home and these postcards are the only links we have to their lives.
The Pegwell Bay Home continued under the WMCIU control until 1969, when, after suffering flood damage, it was decided that repairs would be too costly and the building was sold and converted back to a Hotel, Operating as the Pegwell Bay Hotel, in 2010 the hotel offered 42 ensuite rooms.
The Herne Bay Convalescent Home was the first of ten homes run by the Railway Industry for railwayworkers.
The Herne Bay Convalescent Home was the first of ten homes to be opened by the Railway Industry for railway workers; the idea of John Edwards Nichols, cashier of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway, who saw the need for a home where railwayworkers could go to rest and recover from sickness and ill-health. Nichols was already involved with the friendly Societies and had played a part in setting up the Friendly Societies’ Home at Herne Bay and, as a member of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, had become acquainted with Passmore Edwards. The first Convalescent Home for Railway men, at Herne bay, Kent Nichols was aware of an area of land, about 3 acres, adjacent to the Passmore Edwards Friendly Society Home then under construction at Herne Bay and during a meeting with him, in early 1898, asked him his intentions. His reply filled him with dismay. Passmore Edwards said that he had intended to build a Nurses Home on the site but seeing the disappointment this produced Passmore Edwards asked the reason for his interest. Nichols took this opportunity to inform him, with great enthusiasm, of the pressing need to provide convalescent care for men engaged in vital public services, such as railway workers. However, Passmore Edwards remained unmoved. Later that year Nichols again raised the issue of the need for a Convalescent Home for the railway workers and the vacant land at Herne Bay, Passmore Edwards became rather iritated and after repeating his intention to build a Nurses’ Home concluded the conversation by saying “the case, Mr Nichols, is now closed”. Whilst many would have accepted this response as the end to the matter, Nichols was not so easily dissuaded and on the third attempt Passmore Edwards agreed no only to giving the land but an additional £6000 towards the cost of the building. Central to Passmore Edwards offer was that “nine men of good standing with their respective railway companies and of good repute among theire fellow workers; length of service not less than twenty years, rank not to count, be assembled and informed of the scheme”. Passmore was to meet with this group as soon as possible so that a Trust Deed could be drawn up, but he stressed the need for speedy action. It was his intention that, if such a Home was to be built then he intended to lay the foundation stome on the same day as the one chosen to open the Friendly Society Home.
Nichols chose to enlist the help of the Press and wrote to the Railway Herald, this letter appearing in 7 January 1899. Within a week or so Nichols had sufficient replies to arrange a meeting on 19 January 1899 at which the selected representatives, including W J Day, an engine driver from the Great Northern Railway and T Bartle a Checker in the Goods Dept of the L & NWR, were present. Mr W T Culver, Stationmaster at Canon Street was elected to the Chair and the result of this historic meeting was the unanimous acceptance of the motion that ” We the railwaymen, representing the men employed on the nine principal railways having termini in London, do hereby signify our willingness to become trustees of the Passmore Edwards proposed Home , subject to his approval. The trustees, including Nichols, were in a position to sign the Trust Deed by April 1899 and they began the process of setting up the organisation which was going to be essential to attract the regular flow of subscriptions needed to support the Home once established. At this time Nichols was elected to take over as Chairman. The business of constructing and opening the Home was also of some urgency and Sexton Snell was appointed architect.. The foundation stone was laid on 12 June 1899 by the Rt Hon Earl of Amherst. On 31 August 1899 the trustees met to consider tenders for the new building and decided to accept a tender from H Wall & Co, of Kentish Town, of £8,367 for a Home accommodating fifty beds. At the same meeting it was agreed to accept as an additional trustee a representative from the Great Central Railaway, originally not in attendance at the original meeting. By the end of the summer of 1899 the project was in full process. The full constitution of the Board had been completed and the building was beginning to take shape. Many of the standards of policy and proceedure had been agreed upon. The year of 1900, however, was the most critical in the history of the Railway Convalescent Homes. Whilst work on the building was so advanced by March that details of the opening cermony were being discussed, growing financial problems were also needing to be addressed. Nichols, as both Chairman of the Board and Passmore Edwards’ accredited representative, had been given a free hand in relation to the building scheme. He had propose, and his proposal readily accepted by the trustees, that the size of the building should be enlarged so as to accommpodate 100 patients rather than the original 50. The total cost, including all of the equipment and furnishings was to be £5000 more than the £6000 promised by Passmore Edwards. An appeal went out for further donations but the response was poor. Nichols approached Passmore Edwards again to ask him to extend his generosity but his response was short. ” Provision for 100 beds was not thought of or mentioned that I know of when it was decided to provide the Home. Please not calculate on more than my promised £6000 from me. Yours faithfully, J Passmore Edwards.”.
It was decided that a loan should be raised through the Railway Superannuation fund but an application to the Railway Guards Friendly Society for £2000 was not successful. Matters came to a head when the builders obtained a writ for pocession of the unfinished building pending settlement of their account. The only response from Passmore Edwards, following an appeal from the Chairman of the Great Eastern Company, was to offer to take the building over for a nurses’ home as originally planned. Finally a request was made to the trustees bankers, Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co for an overdraft of up to £2000 with the Deeds of the property as security and a formal guarantee on behalf or each of the trustees. This was accepted by all but one of the trustees and bulding work was completed. Passmore Edwards followed this with a further £1000 principally for a “building fund” but agreed that this could be used for the much needed furnishings. With the beginning of 1901 came the completion of the building and the installation of furnishings and equipment. A caretaker was appointed who also acted as gardener and the remaining staff, including Matron- Mrs Yates, who took up her post on 29 May.
The Rt Hon Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman, at the invitation of Passmore Edwards, had agreed to open the Home on 8 June 1901. The railway companies cooperated by providing free travel to the event for trustees, committee-men and guests and the Home was opened in perfectly fine weather. Numerous tributes were paid to the trustees were given and promises made for future support. The sincerity of these promises was reflected in the accounts for 1901 which showed a total of £262 in donations from officials of the railway companies.
During the first six months 131 workers had taken advantage of the permitted fortnights rest at the Home, free of charge, under the direction of Mrs Yates. In the first full year, 1902, the number was 465 and in 1903, 725. Passmore Edwards made a surprise appearance at the 28 July,1903 meeting of the trustees, many of whom had not seen their benefactor. By 1904 subscriptions, at 1/2d or 1d per week, amounted to almost £3000 and the number of “patients” 1030; all receiving at least two weeks free care.At this time the final repayment to the bank was made and the Home ended the year significantly in credit.
By 1906 an additional wing to provide a further 50 beds had been added, opened on 24 July, by Princess Louise. Even this substantial enlargement did not meet the growing demands for admission and the realisation that the lengthy journey to the Home from the north and West of the Country was not beneficial to the patients health and recouparation. A search for further premises began, together with the setting up of a “New Home” Fund. As at the Pegwell Bay Home there were photographs taken of each turnaround of residents. I have often been contacted by descedents of one of these residents looking for further information about their ancestor. I am unable to give any details of anyone who stayed at any of the homes but always appreciate a copy of the photograph for my records.
In 1910 the Trustees agreed to purchase Leasowe Castle on the Wirral at a cost, including furniture and abouit 30 acres, of £12,000. Leasowe opened in 1911 to be followed, in 1915, the Ilkely Home and in 1919 a home in the South West, Bridge House at Dawlish, was opened to accommodate another 84 patients. Before the Great War, Mrs Calver, the wife of the Secretary of the Convalescent Homes had been given the Old Wool Hall at Lavenham, by Princess Louise, and this had been converted and opened as The Railway Women’s Convalescent Home. In 1921 Mrs Calvert offered this home to the Railwaymen’s Convalescent Homes and the organisation was renamed the Railway Convalescent Homes.
At the outbreak of WW1 the homes were made available to the War Office and Herne Bay became a military hospital. A further Home was added to the list, in 1918, at Dawlish. In the years between the wars the number of patients, and contributors, rose steadily. In 1922 the railway management agreed to offer free travel to the homes whereas previously patients had to fund their own travel arrangements, restricting those poorer workers from travelling too far. This concession, together with an agreement with the railway companies to deduct contributions direct from wages, ensuring a more reliable income, encouraged the purchase of a further home, in 1924, at Ascog manor, near Rothesay, followed by Trenython, near Par, Cornwall, in 1925 and, in 1927, a Home solely for women at Shottendame, Margate.
At the outbreak of WW2 Herne Bay again became a hospital and remained as such until after the war, reopening as a Convalescent Home on 1 January 1946. Further purchases were made at Buxton (presented by the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organisations and opened on 20 September by Paul Felix Warburg, on behalf of the American Ambassador)-an administrative building at Baker St London and finally The Old Abbey, Llandudno (presented by the LMS Hospital Fund and opened, for employed women only, on 9 May 1950 by the Rt Hon Lord Latham.
The Golden Jubilee was celebrated at Herne Bay, in 1951, by which time 41,520 railwaymen had made use of its facilities. Further extensions had been added in 1914 and in 1928, to accommodate 115 beds, and by 1947 admissions reached 7,000 per year. A ground floor ward was provided for those that had difficulty with the stairs to the two upper floors.There were extensive garden, bowling green and well kept lawns, whilst, being just a quarter of a mile from the sea, the prevailing sea breezes were welcomed by those recovering from their debility.
The post war years saw economic stagnation; the nationalisation of the railways reduced the number of employees and the introduction of the National Health Service brought better healthcare and reduced the need for Convalescent Homes. A programme of reduction in the number of Homes but modernisation of those that remained was introduced. In the early 1970’s Herne Bay closed for major refurbishment, including the provision of a lift for disabled patients but the Home was never reopened. Faced with continual financial problems the Home was leased as a residential home for the elderly, Heronswood, which opened in 1980. After 15 years the Home went into receivership and again closed.
Reopening as Elliott House, after a one million pound refurbishment, the building continues to provide care for the elderly.
The Railway Convalescent Home Charity, now ‘rch’, today operates only the Dawlish Home in Devon but continues to provide convalescent care for those in need.
‘In all England there could not be found a more ideal place for a convalescent, jaded by the monotonous wear and tear of the printer’s craft, to refit him for work and the duties of life’
By the early 1890s, members of the printing trades were already running a convalescent home at Swanage, in Dorset, but with over 30,000 men following these trades in London alone there was a need for further provision. Initially it was decided to build the new Home at Swanage but the area purchased by Edwards for the Charing Cross Convalescence Home at Limpsfield was larger than the hospital needed and they wished to sell the surplus part, valued at £1,000, and use the money to help maintain the new Home. Edwards let it be known that if the printers were to choose the Limpsfield site then he would fund the building of the Home, at a cost of £3,000. At Edwards suggestion the Lord Mayor of London, who was also associated with the printing trade, laid the foundation stone and Edwards, by then the President of the Institution, opened the Home in September 1895. Set just below the ridge of the North Downs and within nine acres of grounds, the red brick Home was situated on the edge of 1,500 acres of common and pine forest and looked out over miles of undulating countryside towards the South Downs. Alfred Saxon Snell, FRIBA, designed the Home and the total cost was £6,000. Accommodation was provided for thirty patients on the first and second floors, with the matron’s and servants’ quarters at the rear, accessed by a separate staircase. A sitting room and Games room were supplemented by a small library, stocked with 512 books from Passmore Edwards and added to by other donors. Outside there were games areas and formal gardens, as well as vegetable gardens and orchards, ensuring that the Home was supplied with fruit and vegetables throughout the year, and an adequate supply of new laid eggs from the Home’s poultry. Popularity of the Home increased rapidly, to the extent that, in 1908, the building was extended with a new dining hall, which was also used for concerts and other entertainments, kitchens and an office, at a further cost of £2,600. During WW1 a new wing was built dedicated to all those who left the printing trade to fight. Built to accommodate eighteen patients the new wing cost £6,000, as much as the original building. The Printers’ Charitable Corporation, which traces its origins back to 1827, worked closely with the Caxton Home, eventually took over control, and finally closed and sold the building for residential use.
Formerly the National Society for the Employment of Epileptics.
The National Society for the Employment of Epileptics was founded in 1892 as a result of an initiative by Doctors at the National Hospital for the Paralysed and the Epileptic, The Ladies’ Samaritan Society of Queen Square and the Charity Organisation Society, to provide a home, or homes, for epileptics able to work but unable to find employment due to their illness. At this time epileptics might be admitted to poorhouses, gaols, hospitals or asylums. In the asylums epileptics were not segregated from the general insane and were subjected to the same harsh “treatment”. The percentage of epileptics in some asylums could be as high as 20%. The alternative was the workhouse, where conditions were conditions were such that it was the choice of last resort for the majority of the “deserving poor”, which included the sick, the handicapped and the elderly, all of whom could not maintain the lowest form of living without assistance.
Skippings Farm After looking at several farms the decision was made, in June 1893, to buy Skippings Farm, near Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, which was on the market at £3,900. Skippngs Farm consisted of 135 acres of good farming land and a farmhouse, on the edge of the Chiltern Hills only 21 miles from London. A deep well promised inexhaustible water supplies. Passmore Edwards accepted the recommendation of the Executive Committee and added £3000 to the £100 already given. He was invited to join the Executive Committee and shortly afterwards gave a further £1000 towards farm expenses. The Trustees, in whom for legal purposes the Society’s property was vested, were Passmore Edwards, Edward Montefore Micholls and John Pearman. Completion of the purchase was accomplished by November 1893 and in recognition of his gift Passmore Edwards was asked to become Vice President of the Society. He was to remain directly involved with the Society until his death in 1911. His wife, Eleanor was also closely involved with Chalfont being a Committee member and life governor. To enable the Colony to open as early as possible the Building Committee proposed to erect temporary iron buildings and these consisted of two buildings, one 40ft x 36ft and the other 40ft x 20 ft connected by a corridor and several smaller ancillary buildings. This then provided the initial accommodation for the staff and the 16 colonists, the first of whom arrived in July 1894. This first dwelling was known as The Home, Skippings Farm but was later renamed Alpha House and is often referred to as the Iron Home. Meanwhile advice was sought on the management of the land and it was judged to be ideal for market garden produce with a ready market in London. The farm tenant, Samuel Sills, was asked to stay on at the farm at a yearly basis, paying a rent of £1 per acre, and to relinquish land as required by the Society. The agreement also provided for him initially to provide milk and butter to the Colony and he was employed to provide labour, as and when required, to plough and till the land used by the Society. Men were employed to trench some of the land and apple and pear trees were planted. Samuel Sills was later to be employed as Bailiff and remained with the Society until he died in 1912.
Susan Edwards House Once work had started on the Iron Home the Building Committee looked towards planning the first permanent Home. Passmore Edwards again offered to cover the cost, which was estimated at between £1500 and £1800. The architect Keith Young had earlier proposed a two storey cottage to accommodate 16 colonists, a married couple to supervise and a servant and this original design was amended to accommodate 18 colonists, in two dormitories, the Matron and other staff. Work began in September 1894 and Passmore Edwards laid the foundation stone of Passmore Edwards House, later to be known as Susan Edwards House, on 14 November 1894. This ceremony also marked the official opening of the colony. Passmore Edwards House was built in local brick to the first floor level and roughcast above. It was ready for occupation by August of 1895 although the official opening did not take place until 26 November, just 12 months following the completion of the purchase of the farm. Half of the residents of the Iron Home moved into the new cottage. In 1899 the adult men were transferred to the newly constructed Greene House and Passmore Edwards House became a home for boys aged 15 and over. In 1904 as the opening of the Passmore Edwards Administrative House approached, Passmore Edwards requested that this first home be renamed Susan Edwards House, after his mother.
Eleanor House In 1896 work was started on building the first home for women, the £2861 cost again provided by Passmore Edwards. Designed by Ernest C Shearman of Newmarket, the new home accommodated 24 women colonists on a site near the main gate, and well away from the men’s homes. Passmore Edwards chose to name it Eleanor House, after his wife. The home was completed early in 1897 and was an attractive red brick building with red roof tiles and half timbered oak gables. The interior included a large hall decorated with a frieze of poppies painted by the Kyrle Society. Miss M A Farmar had donated £1500 to the Society and was pleased for the Society to use this to furnish the house and chose this herself, including a piano which can be seen in the picture avbove and which she gave in memory of her own mother.
Victoria House for Men In 1896 Passmore Edwards offered to build another home for men. Even before Eleanor House was finished work commenced on Victoria House named in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Designed by Maurice Adams the two storey redbrick cottage accommodated 24 colonists on the ground floor with staff quarters above. Building commenced early in 1897 and it had been completed by the following spring at a cost of £2788.The Rogets family provided some of the furniture and the rest funded from the Duke of York’s Appeal. By the late summer of 1898 the last of the Alpha House residents had moved in together with a number of new arrivals.
Homes for Children Passmore Edwards was equally eager to provide cottages where epileptic children could be provided for. Maurice Adams produced drawings for two similar red brick cottages, each with two 12 bed dormitories, a sick room, dining room, play room, kitchen, three staff bedrooms and sitting rooms for the House Mother and nurse and in the girls home a fourth bedroom for two servants. The Society made representations to the London School Board to consider a combined approach to providing accommodation for children aged 8 to 16. However, at that time there was no legislation to permit the Authority to make such provision. Further representations to the Education Department brought forth the Elementary Education (Defective & Epileptic Children) Bill. This Bill would direct Education Departments to provide for such children. However, when the subsequent Act was passed in August 1899, a clause had been inserted specifying that Education Authorities should not certify as appropriate those homes boarding more than 15 children in one building or more than 4 such buildings. By now the Society’s two homes, to be called Milton House, for boys, and Pearman House, for girls, were complete and awaiting the first young residents. Whilst the clause had been added to protect children it meant that the Society could not admit children into the homes designed for them. It was decided that the new homes should be used for older children and young adults. The age of admission was lowered from 18 to 14, for boys, and 15, for girls. Pearman became a home for 20 women and girls and an extra 8 bedded iron dormitory was added to Milton to become a home for 24 young men. It was 1903 before this clause was removed from the Act and 1909 before younger children were admitted to Chalfont. Both Milton and Pearman House were opened on 23 June 1899 by the Duke of York, President of the Society.
The Administration building In 1899 Passmore Edwards offered £2500 for a new administrative building necessary due to the continual growth of the colony. Charles Grieve set to work on designing a two storey building which on the ground floor included a Committee room, staff dining room, kitchen and store rooms, dispensary, dairy bakery, offices for matron and her assistant, together with matron’s sitting room, and a sewing room. On the first floor there were bedrooms for Matron and other staff. Building was held up due to rising prices raising the estimated cost to nearly £4800. Even though Passmore Edwards increased his offer to £3000 this was still not sufficient. Grieve was asked to review his design and out went the dairy, the bakery, the dining room and the Committee room and the sewing room and store rooms were deferred to be added later by the colony carpenter. Building started in June 1903 and was completed by the autumn of 1904. In 1912 the attendants’ room was built as planned but it was not until 1923 that the committee room was added.
Some of the buildings provided by others
Whilst Passmore Edwards was the single largest benefactor to the original Chalfont Colony the Society’s archives are rich in names of the many that gave of their money or services to the Society at this time. From the £500 from the Duke of Westminster, plus a subscription of £100 for 5 years, and the £500 given by John Lewis Roget, son of Dr Peter Mark Roget, compiler of the Thesaurus, to the £10 provided by a Mrs Farmar, member of the Council to buy the first apple and pear trees to be planted in the new orchards at the Colony, the list is as long. The London Guilds, the Goldsmiths, the Skinners, the Vinters and the Cordwainers, also contributed. This website deals mainly with the contribution made by Passmore Edwards to the work of the Society and in particular the houses funded by him. Several other houses and many other buildings have been erected at Chalfont including:-
The Dearmer House In December 1892 Mrs Caroline Dearmer, who had lost a son of 18 to epilepsy offered to provide a cottage for young epileptic men suffering from temporary mania. Not only was she to donate £1000 for the home but she would give £250 a year to maintain the building and support the patients. She also intended to leave £700 to the Society for the general benefit of male epileptics. She agreed to extend her patronage to all classes of epileptic men and women who needed special care and in 1896 Maurice Adams produced a design for a single storey bungalow. Dearmer House was built at a cost of £1182.
Greene House In July 1896 Frederick Greene, a wealthy businessman from Surrey offered the Society £2000 for a honme for men. Designed by Maurice Adams to accommodate 24 men Greene House was built at a final cost of £2348 and opened on July 23 1899. Both Mr and Mrs Greene went on to support the Society throughout their life and afterwards by means of a £5000 legacy.
The Recreation Hall In 1896, a Mrs Cash offered the sum of £200 to provide a small hall on condition that it was completed within 6 months. The Recreation Hall, which cost £182 and could seat 100, was constructed of corrugated iron on metal frames. Mrs Cash opened the hall on 19 December 1896 and it was to remain in regular use for shows, lectures and church services until 1958.
Penn House In March 1913 the Society mortgaged Skippings Farm to finance the building of another home for 30 women. Designed by Cecil Sharpe work on the home started before the outbreak of war in August 1914 and was completed at a cost of £3295 the next spring. The Society chose the name Penn House as a compliment to Mr Penn Gaskell, the Society’s first full time secretary and who remained a life time supporter, and in honour of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.
Hampshire House John Martineau, another long time supporter of the Society and its work offered anonymously, to provide a home which gave priority to patients from Southampton. In 1902 arrangements were made with the Southampton authorities to maintain such patients and work commenced on a home for 24 women. Hampshire House was designed by Charles Grieve and opened at the beginning of 1904.