During the First World War, women were able to contribute to the war effort in a variety of ways. In Richmond, there were many different examples of women ‘doing their bit’ – driving ambulances in France, or growing crops and vegetables at Kew Gardens. In addition to these practical roles, women also organised a range of entertainment events designed to boost morale and raise funds for good causes.
Such events in the local community came in the form of concerts, plays, fetes and Royal visits. A Mrs Gardiner arranged for the Queen Mary to visit convalescing servicemen at the Cardigan House Club. The local Belgian community organised theatrical performances in the Borough for both recreational and fundraising purposes. A production of I Am Sorry…savez-vous was performed at Richmond Hippodrome in September 1918 in order to raise funds for the family of Albert Christiaens, a local soldier who died in during the conflict.
The British Red Cross provided key medical services to treat the sick and wounded during the First World War and thus was a popular organisation to fund-raise on behalf of. At the Richmond Hippodrome, a matinee performance of the classic comedy The School for Scandal was organised by Mrs Bandmann-Palmer in aid of the Richmond branch of the Red Cross in December 1914.
Theatrical entertainment in the Richmond during the First World War will be explored in a project – funded by the AHRC and delivered in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire’s Everyday Lives in War – throughout autumn 2016.
Research based on material held at Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library and Archive