The Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa

The First World War

The First World War caused great difficulties for the Society. Its income suffered considerably from a substantial fall in donations and by 1916 had a deficit of over £6,000. The sailing brig Chichester was sold off in 1917 for 500 guineas. This, together with a highly successful appeal for funds to city insurance, shipping and marine companies, brought the deficit down to £1,500.

The homes also received gifts of food from as far away as Australia via the London Chamber of Commerce. The donations received by the Arethusa included 8 cases of preserved meat, 4 cases of boiled mutton, 10 cases of rabbits, 4 sheep carcasses, 12 bags of sugar, 10 sacks of flour, 6 boxes of butter, 12 cases of syrup and 8 cases of jam.

Many of the Society's staff were called up for military duty, resulting in even more stress for those trying to keep the homes running. Mrs Swaffield, the matron at Sudbury Hall, whose son was a serving officer, could not cope with the strain suffered repeated health problems because of 'intemperance' and was asked to resign.

Old boys from the Society's homes also contributed to the war effort. By 1917, 900 of them had joined up, with 52 having been killed, 14 invalided out, and 9 captured as prisoners of war.