Family Life

In the Victorian era, stereotypical family life featured the father as the sole provider for his wife and children, and in charge of the family’s finances and paying for all outgoing household expenses.  This structure was to turn on its head once the First World War was in full swing.

When war was declared in 1914, many men volunteered to fight, caught up in the wave of patriotism and the belief that the war would be over by Christmas.  Women and children watched as their fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, and sons marched off to war.  Those men who chose to stay were forced to join up once conscription was introduced in January 1916; at first, it was only single men that were conscripted, but many married men felt it was their duty to enlist too, to protect their country and family.  The war caused a great upheaval and tragedy in family life: sons went to fight and never came back, and thousands of children were left fatherless.

Before the war, single women could have worked in domestic service, but were expected to remain at home with the children once married.  However, as men left to fight, women filled the gaps in the workforce, taking jobs in munitions factories, hospitals and on farms.  Grandparents and other relatives took on more of the childcare while mothers went to work.

Leave a Comment


A Family’s Grief

The tragic story of a Reigate family's wartime loss.


Life of Stanley Skelton

This is a short biography of my twice great-grandfather, Stanley Skelton, who served with the East...


Sydney Charles Stark

Story of a Godstone man who survived the war, but lost his brother


Lucy James Hall

Born in Jersey City, USA Lucy James Hall died in Woking in 1918 and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery


Richards (nee Coombs), Dora

Nurse who married a holder of the Victoria Cross, having nursed him in hospital


Samuel Charles Currier

A Carshalton man who was killed in 1916 at Guillemont and his letters home


Our holiday in August 1914....

Reverend W E Peters writes to his parishioners, outlining his 'holiday' in the Rhone, from 28th July...


Major Ralph Smith

A brief story about the life of Major Ralph Smith


James Edgar Prince

A brief story of James Edgar Prince


Family Life in 1914

Part of the Last Summer display; telling the story of family life in Surrey just before the start of...