LOOK BACK IN TIME: 9th November 1919

In the Isle of Wight Observer published on 9th November 1919, there is a lengthy report about the visit of Miss Higson, the secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advisory Board on Public Morals. The headline was ‘Is Ryde Immoral? Judging by his opening remarks the local vicar seemed to think the answer was yes!

The Vicar (the Rev. Hugh le Fleming), in introducing Miss Higson remarked that they could lay aside such a great and important question as the Bowling Green and meet in a sense of proportion which was very necessary in view of the subject that afternoon.

They had to face one of the great facts, that all efforts in the way of reconstruction of a new England were bound to end in failure unless they united together and found some means of combating the most deadly enemy with which they were confronted at the present time. They were all human beings who knew something of the world and that such things as uncleanness, lust, and corruption were always with them in terrifying degree, but he believed that Miss Higson, who knew her subject so well would bear him out when he said that there was a terrible epidemic assuming forms which made it most difficult to deal with. They had to face facts and it was no use unless they dealt with them. The Prime Minister had told them that they could not have an A1 nation with a C3 population and as things were going it would soon be a Z3 population. They knew one fact, that it had been estimated that 10 per cent of the population were suffering from venereal disease which was sufficient to prompt them to immediate action.

They might have Peace treaties and all the rest but they would not go forward in real happiness and prosperity unless they combated the appalling evil. It was true that during and after wars there was generally some epidemic of this kind, and they could not expect after the greatest war in history that there would not be the greatest epidemic of uncleanness following in its train, but it had to be met and conquered in the name of God,