Lady Henry Somerset, Frances Willard and Duxhurst
Lady Henry's early years, her friendship with Frances Willard, the British and American Temperance Movements, the Industrial Farm Colony at Duxhurst and Frances Willard's two brief visits to Redhill.
The source of Frances Willard's association with Redhill is her stay at a house called 'Brook Glen' in Hooley Lane some time between 1892 and 1896. The house may have belonged to Lady Somerset of Reigate. The source of this information was a Miss Kate Lee, who was a caretaker at the house for a while. Frances Willard also stayed at the Priory (where Lady Somerset moved the entrance gates because they were in Bell Street opposite the Castle public house, a seat of drinking, the effects of excess of which she so deplored) and even learned to ride a bicycle there. Local historian T.R Hooper recalled meeting Lady Henry Somerset on several occasions, once when she and Frances Willard spoke at a great meeting at the Reigate Drill Hall. Frances Willard also spoke at Redhill. This was reported in the Surrey Mirror of July 3rd, 1896, when it was reported that the Wesleyan Chapel in Station road had been crowded despite the meeting having only been advertised by bills. This article is only brief, and there is a great deal more to know about all of its subjects. The details sketched here are about people, past beliefs and attitudes as well as places, and is about a time when the temperance movement was strong in this country around many decades either side of the year when the 19th century became the 20th, and in America probably had its highest point with Prohibition.
Lady Henry Somerset
Isabel Caroline Somerset was born Lady Isabel (or Isabella) Somers-Cocks on the 3rd of August 1851, the first child and the elder of the two daughters of Charles Somers and Virginia Pattle.
.......Lady Somerset's mother was British, born in Calcutta in 1827, the daughter of East India Company official James Pattle and his expatriot French wife Adeline Maria de L'Etang. Lady Somerset's mother, Virginia Pattle, was regarded as the most beautiful of their seven celebrated daughters. After the death in India of James Pattle Mrs Pattle sailed for England with her two youngest daughters but unfortunately died on the journey. Her daughters finished the journey and Virginia settled in London.
Left and right images are of Lady Isobel as a child
.......Charles Somers Cocks, her father, was a descendent of the Cocks and the Somers families of England that owned Reigate Priory and Eastnor castle. An amateur artist he came upon a portrait of Virginia Pattle by professional artist Mr Watts. As it was not the thing for a gentleman to become a professional in any sphere of life he decided that as the subject was such a beauty, and as he was not going to be able to paint her himself, he would marry her. A few weeks later he met Virginia in Lord Palmerstone's drawing room. They soon became engaged and were married in October 1850.
.......As she grew up Lady Isabel spent time at both Eastnor Castle and Reigat Priory. Her parents spent a great deal of time abroad and Lady Isabel was subject to the authority of a number of relatives and the administrations of around twenty governesses during the course of her education. As a young woman she became very religious, she at one time considered becoming a nun but her status demanded marriage instead and in February 1872 she married Lord Henry Somersetat St George's Church, Hanover Square, London. His first proposal she had refused but she was prevailed upon by her mother to eventually acquiesce to his persistence. The similarity of surnames meant only a small change to hers and she became known as Lady Henry Somerset. A son, also Henry, was born in 1874, two years into the marriage, but it was a marriage that failed and she was to return to Reigate Priory where in 1878 she obtained legal custody of her young son. Her lifestyle was one in which she was able to indulge her wants as she wished but her religious leanings and, it is said by hearing a call to commit herself to others whilst sat beneath a large elm at Reigate Priory, led her to eventually become a patron to the poor and needy and by 1990 to not only have committed herself to a life of abstinence from drink but to become President of the British Women's Temperance Movement.
(Grateful thanks to information from John Pretty which allowed the above to presented more accurately)
Lady Isabel and her sister Adeline Lady Somerset's father, Lord Somers Lady Somerset's mother, Countess Somers
(Full-face portrait courtesy John Pretty)
Lady Somerset aged nineteen An older Lady Somerset in a formal pose Lady Somerset and her son, Henry Charles Somers Augustus Somerset Henry Charles Somers Augustus Somerset, son of Lady Henry Someset, as a young man As well as her homes at Reigate Priory and Eastnor Castle Lady Henry Somerset also had a house at Gordon Square, London. The room in which she was said to spend most of her time there was said to be her study and an article in The Gentlewoman magazineof July 30th 1892 describes the room as having dark green walls, a terracotta fireplace with a black marble mantlepiece, with the settees, chairs ands cushions having dark greens and browns asthe prevailing colours. We can therefore imagine Lady Henry as not to be a person who surrounded herself with light and brightness at all opportunities. The room would not have been a small one, however, as its description goes on to mention at least three large bookcases, a writing desk and various other items of furniture. The pictures above show Lady Somerset at Gordon Square in 1892 and a sketch of a corner of her drawing room. In 1892 her son was aged seventeen and was undertaking a tour of America. Frances Willard
Frances Willard's family originated from Horsmonden in East Sussex but had left there to make a new home in America. Her mother, Mary Hill, at age 15 had been the first teacher in the village of Ogden in the forested wilderness that was western New York before 1820. It was the kind of community where religion was the main preoccupation after the basic necessities of day-to-day living. There she married Josiah Willard and their first child, Frances, was born in 1839. Frances was two years old when the family moved west to Wisconsin where although she had an outdoor life she did not lack for the written word, as by the time she was 15 she had read 17 Shakespeare plays and had had a composition published. She was aware of the inequality between the sexes. Men were encouraged to ride and shoot, to go to town alone, to go to college and to know their purpose in life. They could vote, too. Women enjoyed none of these advantages. She is pictured here aged 18 in 1857 when she was sent first to a Congregational school and then to a Methodist school. Here she began to take a much deeper interest in religion. Due to illness she never graduated but joined the church when better. She could have stayed at home and enjoyed her reasonably well off parents hospitality but chose to go off and teach instead. Life was hard at times, and after two years her beloved younger sister, Mary, died of consumption. Mary' s last message to her sister was to tell people to be good, a message that was to stick in Frances's mind. Frances never married, although she became engaged to Charles Fowler for eighteen months but broke off the engagement because of irreconcilable religious differences, he being far stricter in some religious interpretations than she. This was not the end of her association with Charles Fowler however, for Frances was to become, at 31, the first ever woman president of a college that was a part of a university of which Fowler was president. Once again their views on religious practices and how women should be treated in college were at variance and in 1874 she resigned her very well paid post. It seemed that at 35 she was throwing away her career, but she was to obtain a new one. In the religious community in which she had almost always lived a temperate way of life had been taken for granted. Temperance crusades were a phenomenon in the United States; women became deeply fired with the ideal of saving men from the evils of drink, probably with good reason in many cases, but often only from religious conviction and for occupation and salvation in others. Bands of them persuaded inn and barkeepers to pour their evil trade into the gutters, singing the love of God as they did so, and proclaiming their work for Jesus. They persevered in the face of abuse, violence, and even imprisonment. Frances Willard had been attracted to the movement when it came to Chicago while she was still connected with the college and but once she was free from that occupation she went east to find out how she could join the crusade. Eventually she was president of the Chicago branch of the Women's Christian Temperance Union at no salary, having turned down a job in education at $2,400 a year. She went through deprivation and hardship but loved the calling and did eventually begin to get a salary. Frances Willard was to rise to the highest office in the organisation of the temperance movement when she succeeded the British woman, Mrs Margaret Bright Lucas, as President of the World's Women's Christian Temperance Association in 1891.
The pictures above show Frances Willard aged 18 and 38 Lady Somerset and Frances Willard
Lady Somerset's father died in 1883 and she was subsequently to move to Eastnor to taking over the running of the castle and the estate. While there she also embarked on work to help the poor of the local village, Ledbury. She was elected the president of the British Temperance Movement in 1890, a movement that had started in England in 1875.And admirer of Lady Somerset's work Frances Willard wrote to a friend, Mrs Hannah Whittall Smith, then in England, expressing a wish to meet Lady Somerset. Lady Somerset was already a reciprocal admirer of Frances Willard, having read her tribute to her sister Mary, 'Nineteen Beautiful Years'. Farnces Willard's wish was realised when, in 1891, Mrs Hannah Whittall Smith travelled to a US temperance convention, bringing with her Lady Henry Somerset, and when the two women met a strong friendship was formed. Frances Willard and Lady Somerset sailed for England in the August of 1892. They went to Eastnor castle where they rested quietly. They returned to America together for the National Convention in the September but Frances divided her time between America and England for the next few years. She made speeches in England, one at Exeter in particular brought her even more invitations to speak but she declined many and, in 1893, due to tiredness and illness, remained in England while Lady Somerset went to a Convention in America. Lady Somerset returned in 1894 and together the two women toured England and Scotland giving speeches at temperance meetings. Frances was eagerly interviewed by the press but not all was accolade as there were those who believed that she should not talk on women's suffrage as well as temperance, but limit herself to the latter. She replied to this criticism by saying: 'Everything is not in the Temperance Movement, but the Temperance Movement should be in everything'. Unfortunately Frances' health again broke down and they stopped once more. Later, in 1896, in spite of her health, she and Lady Somerset went to Normandy for a holiday, but on hearing of the plight of some Armenian refugees changed course for Marseilles where they took charge of the situation there. Frances Willard returned to America where more tasks awaited her but two years later, on the 17th of February 1898, she died.
Top Picture: Frances Willard seated, Lady Somerset standing
Picture right: Frances Willard left with Lady Somerset in 1893
Eastnor Castle from the Park, a picture taken from a guide to the castle edited by Lady Somerset in 1889 The Duxhurst Colony for Inebriate Women was an estate of 180 acres between Reigate and Horley that was a project of Lady Henry Somerset (shown left at quiet contemplation) and was secured on a long lease by the British Women's Temperance Association. Lady Somerset started the colony in 1895 and it began work around May, 1896, around the time Frances Willard left for America for the last time, and was formerly opened on the 6th of July that year by her Royal Highness, Princess Mary, the Duchess of Teck. Many guests attended the official opening and a guard of honour was provided by seamen and marines from the Portsmouth Royal Navy Temperance Society. Its object was the rehabilitation of women who had succumbed to habitual addiction to drink, who had come to the courts and were there given the option of a prison term of going to the colony. Around forty women in all were accommodated and fell into three groups.
------The first consisted of the poor and lowly, and they lived in a number of cottages, six women in each, which were situated about a central main building. Each cottage was named; there were Derby and Birmingham, supported by money from the Temperance Association of those towns, Massingberd, named to commemorate the wedding of the son of a family by that name, and The Isabel, provided with funds from the British Women's Temperance Association. The main building was named Margaret Bright Lucas after the woman who Lady Somerset had succeeded as President of the Association. The second group was comprised of those who could pay 3-5 guineas per week to live in the sanatorium, as the manor house on the site was known. The third group were those who, although not among the poorest, could not afford the higher fees. They lived in Hope House, about a mile away. Another building close to the cottages was known as the Nest, and this was where dependant children of some of the women lived.
-------Close by three new cottages were in the very early stages of being erected by W.Bagaley and Sons of Meadvale, and as well as opening the colony the Duchess laid the foundation stones of these cottages. Many guests attended official opening ceremony, some having travelled down from London to the Priory and first being entertained there before setting out for Duxhurst. Other local people went directly to the site. A guard of honour was provided by seamen and marines from the Portsmouth Royal Navy Temperance Society and the Redhill band was there to play the national anthem.
-------Lady Somerset was to spend much of the rest of her life at the colony working in connection with the rehabilitation of inebriated women. She died in 1921 and on October 1923 the site became the Princess Marie Louise Village for Gentlefolk*, a home for 44 poor ladies. On the 27th October 1936 the following sale advertisement appeared in the Times newspaper: - DUXHURST (Lady Henry Somerset Homes) A group of 10 domestic and administrative buildings, accommodation for 100 persons and staff, together with the Manor House and several attractive houses and cottages, convenient areas of building land with good road frontages, and a splendid and dairying farm, the whole extending to about 181 acres, for sale by auction on Tuesday November 24th as a whole or in numerous convenient lots, at 2.30pm in the sale room of Mssrs John D.Wood and Co., 23 Berkeley Square, LondonW.1.
-- ----The buildings were used as an officer cadet training centre during the Second World War and a Prisoner of War camp for Italian prisoners. The buildings and church suffered from neglect, misuse, vandalism and were demolished in stages and were all gone by the 1960s.
* See also A Resident at Duxhurst Colony further down this page
The Duxhurst Colony for Inebriate Women
Some of the cottages at the Duxhurst colony
|A view of the whole of that part of the village that was grouped about the central square|
(reproduced from 'Discovering Reigate Priory' by with permission of the authorAudrey Ward)
The Church, St Mary and the Angels, now demolished
The now untended and isolated graveyard that has no attendant church
|When the church of St Mary and the Angels closed many of its artefacts went elsewhere. Some went to Sidlow Church, including the font, shown on the left.|
My thanks to Rector Bill Campen, who kindly let me into the church to take this photograph after I turned up just as he was leaving.
|The church interior|
|Lady Somerset's Cottage c1910||Figures outside Lady Somerset's cottage|
|The buildings shown here remained empty for many years, possibly their last period of authorised occupation being as an officer cadet training centre during WW2. After that they suffered not just from neglect but also from misuse, vandalism and occupation by squatters. Because of this they were demolished in stages and were all gone by the 1960s. It was in the mid-60s that a local landowner demolished the church for the same reason, pulling down the mainly wooden building with a hawser attached to his tractor. Some of the items from there - doors etc - possibly enjoy life in use elsewhere. The graveyard still exists and it was until only about ten years (1994) ago that someone was still placing flowers on a grave there.|
|Lady Somerset's cottage in 2005|
|Much of the village site has become overgrown and has turn into a wood. On the day I visited it to take these photos (Jan 21st 2006) a shoot was just about to take place within it. The picture on the left was taken looking towards what would once have been the centre of the village. The picture on the right is of a path than once ran alongside the village but now runs alongside the wood that occupies the spot where it was.|
|Duxhurst Lane passes the woods where the village once was (site was on the left of picture, which was taken looking east towards A217). Access to the village would have been possible from here. The church would have been on the right close to this point.||The inside of The Nest, which was one of the Duxhurst|
buildings used for the dependant children of women at the colony (photo courtesy Bill Brooks)
The Duxhurst Hospital for Lady Inebriates
This home, the Manor House, Duxhurst near Reigate, has recently opened under the auspices of Lady Henry Somerset, for the treatment of ladies suffering from alcoholism or narcotism. The house, formerly a gentlemans residence, is admirably adapted for its present use, surrounded by extensive gardens, grounds and farm, with grand views and good air between three and four miles of Reigate. It is thoroughly in the country, the nearest beer seller being a mile and a half distant. The water is good and the drainage has been arranged by Mr Rogers Field. In addition to the usual means of recreation, special provision has been made by the engagement of a trained lady gardener, to give gardening occupation. Not only out of doors but in extensive glass houses which have been erected to this end. This is evidently a most valued adjunct to the treatment. The terms vary from two to five guineas. Having inspected the house, we have formed a very favourable estimate of its advantages. And heartily wish success to so charitable an undertaking.
|Part of a map of Duxhurst produced by W.Arthur Hutchinson in 1958. The numbers identify the buildings, some of which are listed here.|
1 to 14 - The Village - 15 The Nest - 16 The Cottage, Lady Somerset's home - 20 the Church of St Mary and the Angels.
(Map kindly reproduced from an original copy by Mrs Bushell)
|Residents at Duxhurst - 1|
Both sides of this postcard reproduced courtesy Bill Brooks
|.......Billy and Joseph Brooks were at Duxhurst as young children around 1914. The photo above of a playroom/dining room was sent from The Nest so is presumably part of its interior. The photo of the boys may not have been taken at Duxhurst and the uniform they are wearing could possibly have been connected with the scouts after they had left. A copy of the younger of the two boys birth certificate (not shown here) has on the back an application (for the certificate) by the Secretary - the name looks like Wm Gray, Industrial Farm Colony and Childrens Home Duxhurst - for proof (it is assumed) of his age as it refers to the Factory and Workshop act of 1901. The application date was Oct 22nd 1914. .The boys' mother deserted the family home in 1912. Billy, born in 1909, and Joseph in 1910 probably would have stayed with their Father until WW1 broke out and he was called up, so they probably went to Duxhurst in 1914 aged about 4 and 5, but how long they stayed is not known. As there were legal proceedings connected with the parent's divorce in 1914 it may be that the two boys were sent to Duxhurst by the courts. ......(Information courtesy Bill Brooks).......|
|Resident at Duxhurst - 2|
|Mrs Bushell kindly sent the following email after seeing this web page: 'My mother was taken to Duxhurst in about 1914, when she was 2 years old, with one of her elder sisters from Deal in Kent. She had a very happy childhood there and remained in touch with some of her 'family' until her death in 1982. As a child I loved listening to her stories especially when she was sharing them with her friends Violet Anthony and Jimmy Morning. I still remember some of them! It wasn't until after my mother's death that I learned that my grandmother liked a tipple and abused her children. I don't know whether my grandmother was a 'patient' at Duxhurst but I would love to find out. I know before my mother left my grandmother was in service in Horsted Keynes, in the same house where my mother was later employed. Just before the demolition of the Church my mother was contacted by one of her friends, who still lived nearby, to discuss what should happen to the contents of the Church. They wrote to the Bishop of Guilford and were advised that as the Church was a private Chapel it did not come under his jurisdiction. A group of us went by van to collect some of the items which were then taken to St. Andrew's Church in Deal. The Rood Cross still hangs above the chancel there and the Calvary Cross is situated in the front of its churchyard. We also removed candlesticks, sheets of music and some choir vestments. I believe my brother has some of the candlesticks and my cousin may have the angelus bell. I have some blue pottery, a cup and saucer, and I believe that there is a plate, that was made in the pottery at Duxhurst'. |
Left: Mrs Bushell's mother, Ethel Brown, at Duxhurst c1922 (photo courtesy Mrs Bushell)
Pictured above right in the late 60s/early 70s are, from l-r, Jimmy Morning, Violet Anthony (Antony) Mrs Bushel's mother, Ethel Redsull (nee Brown) and Benny. (photo courtesy Mrs Bushell)
|Duxhurst in Later Years|
|In later years the colony ceased to be used for the rehabilitation of inebriate women and had several alternative uses. Perhaps the last of these was as a POW camp for Italian prisoners during WW2. Mrs Cole, who used to live nearby relates how her mother returned to her house one day during the war to discover two men near her front gate. She asked them what they were doing and they spoke in a languge that she recognised as Italian. As she spoke Italian she was able to converse with them. They were Italian prisoners from Duxhurst and were delighted that they were able to communicate with her. They became friends and, as one was illiterate, she wrote letters home for them.|
Telling a story so briefly is like licking an unpeeled orange, you get a faint flavour but it is far from all there is. Here are some books for further reading; there are bound to be others.
Beauty For Ashes, Lady Somerset, 1913
Lady Henry Somerset, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, 1923, Cape
Frances Willard, Her Life and Work, Ray Strachey, 1912, T. Fisher Unwin, London, (Intro. by Lady Somerset)
Frances E.Willard: The Story of a Notable Woman, Florence Witts, London: Sunday School Union c1900
Eastnor Castle; A Guide: Edited by Lady Isabel Somerset, 1889
Discovering Reigate Priory, Audrey Ward, 1998, Bluestream Books
Reigate, Its Story Through the Ages, Wilfrid Hooper, 1945, Surrey Archaeological Society (and reproduced)
The Long Thirst, Prohibition in America1920-1933: Thomas M.Coffey, Hamish Hamilton 1976
Ardent Spirit, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition1920-1933: John Kobler, Michael Joseph 1973
Aristocracy, Temperance and Social Reform: The life of Lady Henry Somerset : Olwen Neilsen, Tuarus Academic Studies 2007
A Talent for Humanity The Life and Work of Lady Henry Somerset: Ros Black, Antony Rowe Publishing 2010
|Also . . . . . . The Priory is now a school and also houses a museum.|
.. ...................For more information about both visit www.reigatepriory.co.uk
|Thanks to Sean Hawkins, Audrey Ward and Richard Cooper for additional material used in this article|
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