SARAH ROBINSON “THE SOLDIERS’FRIEND” AND HER SOLDIERS’ INSTITUTE IN PORTSMOUTH

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Sarah Robinson was not a woman to hide her light under a bushel!

As you can see from this photograph of her Soldiers’ Institute in Portsmouth, which she established in 1874, she proclaimed its use far and wide with huge white letters on the roof.

She had faced a great deal of opposition when trying to set up the Institute. Surprisingly, perhaps, some of this opposition came from the military chaplain, Archdeacon Wright. The archdeacon did not appreciate a mere woman stepping on his toes – for Sarah wanted her Institute to be a place of worship as well as a homely, alcohol-free welcome for soldiers.

She even relinquished a site offered to her for the Institute by the war office when conditions were suddenly imposed that there should be no religious element to its work. The Archdeacon had nobbled the Duke  of Cambridge on his visit to the troops!

Insistent that the Institute would be a house of God or she wouldn’t be involved in it, Sarah chose instead to purchase another site – that of the old notorious Fountain Inn. It’s ironical that so often old pubs proved the perfect site for temperance activities.

Archdeacon Wright continued to be obstructive to Sarah’s work. This must have caused her so much frustration. Yet in the end she had to admit she was almost sad to see him leave the area (he was passed over for the role of Chaplain-General) because his opposition had generated so much publicity for the Institute.

About rosblack

I am a freelance writer & author of 4 social history books, featuring female social reformers of the late 19th and early 20th century. In a previous life I managed a housing charity. I also give talks.
This entry was posted in Army, British Women's Temperance Association, female temperance reformers, Portsmouth, Sarah Robinson, Soldiers Friend and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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