In 1866, Lord Shaftesbury, a philanthropist and campaigner for the rights of children, put forward the idea of a naval training ship for homeless boys in London. Shaftesbury persuaded the Admiralty to loan a redundant 50-gun frigate called the Chichester and she was fitted out and moored in the Thames off Greenhithe where, on 18th December 1866, she received her first intake of 50 boys from a children's refuge at Parker Street, near Covent Garden. The ship was managed by a committee of the 'National Refuges for Homeless and Destitute children' (later known as 'Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa') and her first commanding officer was Captain A.H. Alston. By the end of the first year, nearly 200 boys had undergone useful training and, of the 42 who had completed their studies, 21 had entered the merchant marine and 9 the Royal Navy. Discipline on the Chichester was harsh and the work hard, but the boys were well-fed and motivated, so much so that the scheme was expanded in 1873 by the purchase of a second vessel, the old frigate Arethusa. By 1889 Chichester had fulfilled her original purpose and was disposed of, her name being transferred to the two-masted gaff-rigged schooner which was attached to Arethusa for sailing experience.
H.M.S. Chichester was a 'Java' class frigate built at Woolwich and launched in 1843.