Throughout the Great War fundraising went on across the country to raise money for charitable causes, including the armed forces. These events were often arranged by local stately homes under the patronage of a local member of the gentry. A small fee was charged for entry and a variety of entertainments, food and stalls were provided to entertain the public and raise money. Tonight we have a ticket from one of those fundraising events in September 1915: Standen Hall is just south of Clitheroe in Lancashire and was in the Great War, and indeed still is, the seat of the Aspinall family. Standen Hall is a large ‘H’ shaped Palladian style country house, updated in 1757: Many of the ‘great and good opened their houses up as a location for charitable fundraisers, as in the case of Colonel and Mrs Cornwallis of Ruthin Castel, as reported in the Daily Mail in September 1915:
Colonel and Mrs Cornwallis are lending the grounds of Ruthin Castle today for a fete which they have organised for the French, Italian and Polish relief funds.
Fetes and fundraisers often had an historic theme, emphasising patriotism and ‘Britishness’ in a time of war. An Elizabethan theme was chosen for a Red Cross Fete held in 1916:
The scene in the hall and gardens of the Middle Temple on July 13 and 14, when a fete is to be held for the Red Cross and Order of St John, will carry one back to the days of Queen Elizabeth, as the decorations and dresses of the waitresses at tea and the programme sellers will be carried out in the designs of that period.
Scenes from “Twelfth night” and also from “Much Ado about Nothing” in which Sir George Alexander and Miss Ellen Terry will appear are to be given. Lady Diana Manners, Miss Elizabeth Asquith and Miss Lloyd George will be amongst the many programme sellers; and Mrs Patrick Campbell will preside over the flower stall. The Temple Choir will sing old English glees and songs.
The Lord Chief Justice is the president of the fete and Sir Samuel Evans the Vice President of the fete.
Both of these newspaper articles show the importance placed on having a man of influence, or his wife, involved with fundraising. The press made a point of naming these influential people and it was seen as a good way of promoting events- the important personage adding legitimacy to the event. Equally for those being invited to take on this function it was an important part of how they and their peers saw their place in society. Aristocratic women of the era did not have traditional employment and thus had the spare time to organise worthy events and help run them, gaining social standing and prestige amongst their peers for their good works.
The charitable sector had a crucial role to play in the Great War, providing funds for many of the projects and equipment needed by soldiers, animals and refugees that the government was unable or unwilling to provide. Although other causes did benefit from fundraising, it seems that the public’s imagination was most animated by charities that focused on servicemen, animals in wartime and those displaced by the war such as the Belgian refugees. There seems to have been a large batch of these particular tickets found recently as they are for sale on eBay for a few pounds each.