Dame Agnes Weston and Dame Sophia Wintz

The Box

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Born in London in 1840, Aggie Weston spent more than two decades living and working among the sailors of the Royal Navy.

She co-founded two Royal Sailors’ Rests in Plymouth and one in Portsmouth with fellow philanthropist Sophia Wintz (1847-1929) and campaigned tirelessly to improve the lot of her beloved ‘bluejackets’.

The Royal Sailor’s Rest in Fore Street, Devonport in 1915 © Plymouth Library Services

Her other accomplishments included a monthly magazine called ‘Ashore and Afloat’, a book called ‘Life Among the Bluejackets’ which was published in 1909 and the establishment of a number of temperance societies on naval ships.

In 1918 her work for the Royal Navy was recognised when she was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE).

When she died later that year in Devonport she became the first woman to be granted full naval honours at her funeral. The city is currently in the process of creating a blue heritage plaque in her memory. You can find out more about her on the Wednesday’s Women website and the A Tale of One City website.

Dame Sophia Wintz (right) with Dame Agnes Weston
Dame Sophia Wintz (right) with Dame Agnes Weston

Dame Sophia Wintz (1847-1929) was born in Switzerland. As well as her work with her great friend Agnes Weston, she also helped establish the Royal Naval Temperance Society, journals such as Monthly Letters and Ashore and Afloat, and a library for sailors which distributed literature to ships all over the world.

Royal Naval Temperance Society Medal
Royal Naval Temperance Society Medal

Wintz became a Dame in 1920 and like Weston, was given a full naval funeral when she passed away. Apparently 400 Royal Naval officers and ratings attended.

Here’s a link to another Agnes Weston biography which also mentions Sophia Wintz on the National Museum of the Royal Navy website.

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