The Caroline Skeel Archives Reading Room
Many examples of letters responding negatively to the public appeal are in the Archives.
Criticism for the proposals varied but there were a number of complaints about the opulence and extravagance of the scheme. Some argued the charitable nature of the exercise was lost on the ‘lazy’ working classes, and others claimed the funds would be better used on hospitals and improving housing for working classes rather than a ‘palace’.
Letter reads: Croydon, Jan 19th. 86. D[ear]r Sir. The only answer I can give to your appeal is this – If the working classes want Palaces for recreation & to study in – why let them pay for them. The classes who are by a pleasant fiction supposed to be better off are suffering & have been suffering from depression of business too many years now to provide these things. Spend the cash in hand as the Founder intended it should be spent nor swell the notions of the workers with vain ideas of their own importance by providing them with increase of luxuries paid for by many who can ill afford the means. I am truly yours. F Bartlett.