Awards of Outstanding International Importance to Statesmen and Heroines

Awards, incl. presentation trowel, to the President of the Girls' Friendly Society  

US WWII WASP service certificate to 1st winner of Amelia Earhart Scholarship

Site map:

Telephone  773-539-5751      
FAX            773-304-0131
Postal address
P.O. Box 300791, Chicago, IL 60630, USA
Electronic mail
General Information:
Prices available upon request.

Site Map

J.A. Schramek
& Associates

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, C.B.E., 1st type Civil Division on a bow; Jubilee 1935. With corresponding miniature of an O.B.E., 1st type Civil Division. The group housed in a contemporary frame, with photo and ivorine plaque "Bequeathed to The G.F.S. and T.M.F. by Cecile Victoria Lady Cunliffe"; frame is  8  5/8  x  11  1/8 inches.

C.B.E. London Gazette 1.1.1920.

She served until 1930 as President of the Girls' Friendly Society, which did work among munition workers in factories, providing hostels and rest homes in various parts of England. She was wife of the late Sir Robert Alfred Cunliffe, 5th Baronet, of Acton Park, Wrexham, and died in 1955.

T.M.F. stood for Townsend Members' Fellowship, founded in 1947, the group to which residents of Townsend House moved on when they came of age.  

This site is viewed much better
in Microsoft Internet Explorer
than in other browsers.

The Girls' Friendly Society (GFS) was founded in 1875 to offer support for young lower-middle class women who were new to urban life. In 1912 the society planned a much larger hostel near Victoria Station. The architect was RS Ayling, who had already designed several hostels for working women in Pimlico.

This striking Wrennaissance style hostel accommodated about 80 girls as well as the offices of the London Diocesan GFS....

The hostel was not a charitable foundation, and the Society hoped for dividends comparable to those achieved by investors in other similar hostels. There was, however, a strong moral flavour to this enterprise and when the Bishop of London opened the building in 1914 he commented that 'when a girl came to London to earn her living she was confronted with loneliness and with moral dangers ... Where was she to find friends and that quiet religious influence which would be her mainstay in time of temptation?' That hostel would answer the need.


GFS History

The Girls' Friendly Society was a pioneer youth organization, founded in England in 1875 and run by women, which still operates in 23 countries around the world. Originally established to befriend and protect young, isolated working girls, the Society continues to support girls and women, adapting to the new challenges presented by a changing world.

Prostitutes were considered a particular problem in the towns and cities of Victorian England and philanthropists formed 'rescue societies' to rehabilitate them. In 1872 the Bishop of Winchester asked Mary Elizabeth Townsend, an Irish clergyman's daughter married to the wealthy Frederick Townsend, to help form a rescue society. She decided instead to help prevent girls 'falling' in the first place and to this end the GFS was officially established on 1st January 1875.

Mrs Townsend's concern was working-class country girls who left home, aged about 14, to take up urban employment. Cut off from the support of friends and family they could fall prey to danger or temptation and Mrs Townsend's idea was for 'lady' Associates to befriend and guide these girls, who would form the Society's Members. Sometimes this was on a one-to-one basis, but usually Associates formed Branches which held regular meetings for the Members.

Within five years the Society had nearly 40,000 Members and over 13,500 Associates. In 1880 Queen Victoria became the Society's Patron. The Society was to be governed by a Central Council of Associates headed by an elected President, a post filled by Mrs Townsend until 1892. It was an almost exclusively female organisation, being run by and for women with the exception of male Treasurers, Trustees and some senior clergy who held ex officio positions.

The Branches

Central Office was the hub of the Society but, Mrs Townsend declared, 'the real work of the Society is done by its Branches.' The Annual Report for 1900 lists the variety of activities local Branches offered:'...Bible and Church History Classes...sewing, knitting, embroidery, basket-making, wood-carving, bookbinding, singing, French ambulance, nursing, musical drill and one Branch a weekly meeting for lectures or talks on topics of the day (chosen by the girls), such as South Africa, the Siege of Pekin (sic), Parliament and the Cabinet; papers also written on such subjects as "How an unmarried girl should spend a weekly wage of one pound." Social evenings are very popular, games of all kinds, recitations, also getting up entertainments.'

Soon after the parent Society was formed, the GFS also became established in other parts of Europe, the USA, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The Society communicated with Members and Associates through numerous publications beginning with The Girls' Friendly Society Reporter in 1875, quickly followed by Friendly Leaves. By 1883 Friendly Leaves had a monthly circulation of 46,000, and Friendly Work was introduced, with a focus on older Members to reflect their gradually increasing role as local workers for the Society. In 1895 Friendly Work became The Girls' Quarterly, the hope being that it would be ‘useful to Elder Members especially, helping to circulate new plans for work, for helping the sick and enabling them to help themselves, for Candidates' Classes, and for spreading the knowledge of the Society more and more widely.'

By 1913 GFS membership had reached its highest level at 197,493, but at the start of World War I an irreversible decline began. The War also had a detrimental effect on Members' employment and within days of its outbreak the Society launched a successful soft-toy industry to provide dressmakers with alternative work. A GFS War Emergency Committee was founded, raising more than £20,000 to fund huts, clubs and hostels for female war workers. The Society also entered into a scheme with the Ministry of Labour to recruit women for Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps....

On January 1st 1947, the Townsend Members' Fellowship, for women from the age of 25, was launched to provide ‘a fellowship which older women can enter even if they have not been through all the preliminary stages of growing up in the G.F.S. family circle.'

World Council:

World Council was formed at a 1955 Winchester House holiday conference, to promote 'fellowship between the members of the Society throughout the world by the exchange of information and ideas'. This was to be achieved through 'world assemblies, camps, exchange visits and correspondence'. The President of the USA Society, Mrs Woodward, was appointed first President of the World Council, and September 29th was chosen as the World Day of Prayer.

With a silver trowel engraved on the underside:  "Presented by the Architects to the Hon Cecilie Lady Cunliffe C.B.E. on the occasion of the Laying of the Foundation Stone of Townsend House on the 16th June 1924".  Trowel is 2  15/16  x  9  5/8 inches, this contained in original fitted case; extremely suitable for cutting a cake at a philanthropic event.

Telephone  773-539-5751      
FAX            773-304-0131
Postal address
P.O. Box 300791, Chicago, IL 60630, USA
Electronic mail
General Information:
Prices available upon request.

Prices available
upon request.

Home  Products - site map  About Us
Outstanding Awards |


High objects of State (letters patent from Queen Victoria, each w/ Great Seal):
Author of Balfour Declaration - 1898 diplomatic credentials, for talks with Germany
Chancellor of the Exchequer letters patent of Gladstone, 1873 

The (Swedish General) Viktor Balck Olympic Games- Founding Archive 
Swedish gold and bronze medals honoring Viktor Balck
| Viktor Balck 1912 Stockholm Olympics book  Tower and Sword collar of Viktor Balck

Civil War Gillmore Medal to Jewish officer who helped 1863 "Glory" charge toward Ft. Wagner 1863                                                                        
Statesmen |Koerber - 1920s friend, then foe of Hitler |The Viktor von Koerber WWI Aviation Archive|
Presentation keys, gold medal to major U.K. statesman  Award Documents to important 19th century European diplomats

The JFK and staffers convention badges etc. ArchiveI.D. Badges to JFK and Secretary Ev Lincoln Mass. Labor Federation badge (major speech)  1960 Democratic Nomination campaign: aide Bob Troutman

Heroines | "Girl who defied Hitler" at 1936 Olympics: biography  Inge Sorensen Archive: items                 First ever (gold NYC) Women's Club Medal of Honor
  Award Diplomas to great Jewess opera singer
The Poignant Mayer family Jewish Heroism for (in WWI) and Flight from (pre-WWII) Germany Archive 
Presentation trowel etc. to president of "philanthropic" society for troubled girls

Concepts | News |
Historical commentary

The D.N. Pritt Fighter vs. Fascism Archive