The Church of England Temperance Society’s Homes for Inebriates

by Gerald A. Thompson, in The British Journal of Inebriety January 1, 1913

EVERY day of the year the C.E.T.S. has under its care from 150 to 170 male and female inebriates. In five Homes, in different parts of England, that number of men and women, of all social grades and widely varying temperament, are being helped by the Society to throw off the yoke of alcoholism. The work is one that has grown enormously as the result of the visible success that, for twenty-four years, has attended the efforts of the C.E.T.S. “to comfort and help the weak-hearted, and to raise up them that fall.” Beginning in an unpretentious villa in the north of London, the work is now carried on in five large houses with extensive grounds, that used as the Home for Men being the absolute property of the Society. Each Home is licensed under the Act.

Adequately to describe the Men’s Home, the Chaplain- Superintendent of which is the Rev. S. Scobell Lessey, M.D., would require much space, and in the present short amount of the work it is only possible to give the merest outline sketch of what is being done. Abbotswood House, Cinderford, the Temple Memorial Home, is peculiarly fortunate in its situation. Approached by a noble drive between stately trees of various kinds, the house stands on a considerable hill, in its own grounds of twenty-seven acres. Higher still is the cricket-field, which is reached by a gentle climb from the house, and from which is obtained a magnificent view across the Forest of Dean and the intervening hills to the distant Brecon Beacons. The house itself accommodates no less than fifty patients of the three classes.

The first class have their own dining- room and smoking-room. The large bedrooms are shared by varying numbers of patients, the classes being separated. The distinction between the second and intermediate classes lies solely in the fact that the latter are excused from all household duties.

The second class, on the other hand, take turns in performing all those domestic duties that the absence of servants necessitates. The intermediate and second classes share the large recreation- room, in which is the billiard-table.

Common to all classes is the silence-room. Finally, there is the chapel, which, thanks to the work of former patients, has become a veritable thing of beauty. Space makes it impossible to describe in detail the work and play of the patients. Suffice it to say that everybody has to work during regular hours every week-day. The tasks are chiefly horticultural, but some prefer carpentering or other industries for which they have a special bent. Mat-making, bee- keeping, and other occupations, also claim the attention of some of the patients. Thursdays and Saturdays are half-holidays, when the patients amuse themselves in the house or grounds. Cricket at the Temple Memorial Home is a serious matter, and the village clubs for many miles round have fixtures on the Abbotswood ground. Winter amusements of an indoor character-including theatricals, billiard handicaps, lantern lectures, and concerts of considerable merit-are also carried out with the greatest spirit. After twelve years’ experience of working among inebriate men, the C.E.T.S. can point to permanent “cures” in between fifty and sixty per cent. of the cases. To those who know anything of inebriety this high figure will prove the great value of the work.

The Homes for Women are respectively situated at Herne Hill; Terrington St. Clement, Norfolk; Erdington, on the outskirts of Birmingham; and Torquay; and are known as Ellison, Hamond, Corngreaves, and Temple Lodges. The first-named -called after the first chairman of the C.E.T.S.-was the initial venture of the Society in the conduct of Homes for the intemperate, and has had some 800 patients pass through during its twenty-four years of existence. Ladies whose husbands have held good positions in the Navy, Army, and learned professions; the wives  of tradesmen and clerks; domestic servants; and mothers from the labourer’s cottage-all these and many others have found peace and safety under the roof of Ellison Lodge, and in many a happy home a mother, a wife, or a daughter, has cause to bless the day on which she entered the Society’s retreat at Herne Hill.

The work in the Homes for Women is, necessarily, of a different character from that performed by the men; but, as at Abbotswood, regular duties are performed by the patients between stated hours, as part of the necessary discipline and cure. The system of the oldest Home is typical of the rest. The drawing-room ladies are employed in embroidery and fancy-work-the work is done in summer under the trees in the charming old garden-which helps to furnish the Ellison Lodge Stall at the Home and Foreign Missions Bazaar. In the workroom the patients devote themselves to the execution of orders for house, table, and personal linen of all sorts. (It may here be mentioned that the Lady Superintendent will always be glad to receive orders, which are a material help, not only financially, but in furnishing the necessary tasks.) The kitchen patients, under the supervision of the House Sister and Kitchen Matron, perform all the necessary domestic duties of the Home, for, as in the Men’s Home, there are no servants in the establishment. Every effort is made to provide suitable amusements and entertainments, and during the winter months concerts, lantern lectures, and even tableaux and dramatic performances, help to keep up the spirits of the patients.

Of all the Homes, the palm must be given to Hamond Lodge, Aso far as the building itself is concerned. It would be difficult to find a more delightful spot on, say, a day in early summer. The beautiful old house, with its Elizabethan chimneys, its smooth shaven lawns, its climbing wistaria, and wealth of pink peony blossoms, stands in its own charming gardens, which in turn are situated in the midst of far-stretching park-lands filled with grazing cattle. From the sea, but a mile or two away, there comes the bracing ozone-laden air that has made the Norfolk coast famous as a health resort. All around are observed the conditions that make for fresh vigour of mind and body, of a braced-up constitution, and a saner outlook. Here the routine is much the same as at Ellison Lodge and the other Homes, in each of which the chapel is the most important room.

At Temple and Corngreaves Lodges, under similar conditions, though in climates that differ considerably, the work is carried out on the plan already outlined. In each case there is a Chaplain, and in each a Medical Officer. Neither in that for men nor in the women’s Homes is any patient accepted for a shorter period than twelve months. Female patients are not accepted if they are more than fifty years of age. Neither men nor women are eligible for admission who are in feeble health, epileptic, or weak-minded, nor can those be received who are suffering from pulmonary complaints, advanced heart disease, or any disorder of an infectious or contagious character. No woman whose history shows a record immorality in other directions is received. If this seems, at first sight, to be hard, it must be remembered that the restoration of self-respect is of the highest importance, and that association with persons of alleged bad character would tend in the opposite direction.

The results of this most difficult work have been more than encouraging. Many men and women who had fallen low are now earnest Christians and self-respecting, useful citizens, as the outcome of a sojourn in a C.E.T.S. Home. And here is something demanding an explanation, which the Society gladly gives. The secret of every success during the twenty-four years has been reliance on the spiritual influence. The C.E.T.S. knows that in “a knowledge and love of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord,” lies the hope of the inebriate. When that is fully grasped, there is no longer such a thing-so far as simple inebriety is concerned-as a hopeless case.