DUXHURST INEBRIATE FARM COLONY
In 1896, Duxhurst Inebriate Farm Colony was opened by Princess Mary, Duchess of Teck on the 180-acre Duxhurst Estate in Reigate, Surrey. Dr Sarah Anderson-Brown, who had been researching ways alcoholism could be treated, proposed the concept to Lady Henry Somerset who was eager to proceed with the idea. Dr Sarah Anderson-Brown, who had been researching ways alcoholism could be treated, proposed the concept to Lady Henry Somerset who was eager to proceed with the idea.
The intention of the farm was to treat females of all social classes, who had developed a problem with alcohol or drugs, and patients were expected to stay for a year. Duxhurst Farm was essentially a Victorian rehabilitation centre. The estate at Duxhurst already had a large manor house which meant the farm could be speedily set up.
The manor house was for wealthy ladies (aristocrats, music hall singers and other celebrities) who could afford to pay for their accommodation and care. They paid between 2 to 5 guineas a week (£2.10 – £5.35). A separate cottage on the edge of the estate was allocated for middle class women who could contribute something towards their stay. They were charged a maximum of 30 shillings (£1.50).
Lady Henry Somerset designed thatched cottages to house working class women, who were provided a domestic job within the Farm. These women paid 5 shillings a week (25p). She stayed on the Farm herself in a residence called ‘The Cottage’.
The philosophy at Duxhurst Farm was that the outdoors and fresh air were good for everyone, so many tasks such as laundry and sewing were done outside. There was a dairy farm, extensive lavender fields, strawberry and raspberry plants (of which preserves were made and sold) and the women were encouraged to take part in poultry-rearing and bee-keeping.
RESIDENTS WORKING THE FIELDS
LADIES TENDING TO PLANTS
The popularity of Duxhurst Farm was astounding. In one year there were 3,200 applicants for just 50 spaces. Lady Henry Somerset devoted the rest of her life to Duxhurst Farm before she died. Unfortunately, very little of the Farm remains today. The manor house was commandeered by the War Office in World War I for use as a Red Cross Hospital.
The manor house and the church, which was a main focal point in the Farm, have long been demolished. The only remaining signifier of Lady Henry Somerset’s work is her home, ‘The Cottage’, now a privately owned residence.