In September 1915 the Surrey and Hants News reported that Mr Alfred Lawrence of the Shelleries in Firacre Road, whose bungalow had a remarkable garden with arches, borders and fences decorated with white seashells, had sold 288 postcards showing a photograph of his garden to raise money for the Queen’s War Fund. The postcards along with a collecting box at his front gate produced 30 shillings.
Fire at the Shelleries, Firacre Road.
The paper reported that at 2 o’clock the daughter of the occupant, Mr Lawrence, discovered a fire in the washhouse at the rear of the property, which was eventually extinguished leaving substantial damage to the washhouse.
The article went on to explain that the Shelleries was so called from the remarkably decorated garden in which the bungalow stood. The late Mrs Lawrence had decorated the arches, borders and fences with white seashells. In one corner there was “Nabob’s Palace”, a copy of the eastern architectural gem, the cupolas and spire covered in scallop shells and the ordinary in spiral shells.
The work of decorating the garden had been carried out entirely by Mrs Lawrence, and the Shelleries had become to Ash Vale what the Grotto was to Margate.
Five weeks later, on 22 October 1915, the same paper reported that Mrs Charlotte Knollys had been commanded by Queen Alexandra to thank Mr Alfred Lawrence for raising the money for Queen Alexandra’s Work for Women Fund.
The Shell Grotto at Grotto Hill, Margate, is still a tourist attraction. It consists of a series of underground rooms and passageways covered by 2000 square feet of exquisite shell mosaic. It was discovered in 1835, and nobody knows who created it.
Queen Alexandra’s War Fund worked in conjunction with the National Relief Fund. At the outbreak of World War I, the National Relief Fund was established to alleviate distress caused by the war. The fund dispensed aid to service families and dependents, as well as civilians.