The War Seal Foundation
The War Seal Foundation was founded by Sir Oswald Stoll (1866-1942) in 1915 as a tribute to all who fought and suffered in the Great War.
Sir Oswald Stoll was a theatre impresario and philanthropist who form the Moss Empire with Sir Edward Moss and Richard Thornton in 1900, creating the largest chain of variety theatres and music halls in the United Kingdom. The chain included the London Hippodrome and Coliseum which staged the first Royal Variety Shows in 1912.
When Veterans were returning home with physical and mental injuries, Sir Oswald took the lead on the public debate on how best to support them. By the end of the conflict more than two million men had been permanently or temporarily incapacitated and the lack of adequate housing and resources within the family home, was forcing many to remain in institutions.
Recognising the challenges of recovering in an alien environment, Sir Oswald established the ‘War Seal Foundation’. The purpose of the Foundation, was to enable Veterans to regain independent living and integrate in civilian life, through the provision of a high quality housing and vital medical support while living with their families.
The Foundation set up to raise funds through the sale of postal seals to erect self-contained residential dwellings containing medical facilities, where soldiers could recover without the need to appeal for charity.
War Seal funds were raise by sale, donations and the organisation of entertainment events through Britain and the Empire during and after the war. They were advertised on the press and theatre programmes appealing to people’s sense of patriotism and debt towards the injured soldiers.
Sir Oswald bore the entire cost of the operation and gave the freehold of the site at Fulham Road where the first block of homes was built in 1917 providing accommodation for 142 families.
The War Seal Foundation became The Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation in 1937 and continues to provide housing and support to Veterans today.