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British Industrial History

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Duxhurst Colony

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The Duxhurst Colony was an estate of 180 acres between Reigate and Horley that was a project of Lady Henry Somerset, 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 in 1896, and was formerly opened on the 6th of July that year by her Royal Highness, Princess Mary, the Duchess of Teck.

Its object was the rehabilitation of women who had succumbed to habitual addiction to drink, who had come to the courts and were given the option of a prison term or going to the colony. Around forty women were accommodated and they fell into three groups:

The first consisted of the poor and lowly who 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 comprised 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.

Lady Somerset was to spend much of the rest of her life at the colony, working in connection with the rehabilitation of inebriate women. She died in 1921, and in 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.

Sources of Information

  • [1] Redhill-Reigate History