This November Adam Walsh, our Collections Engagement Officer, will be telling the stories of some of our places and their links to the First World War as part of the annual armistice commemoration, In this blog, Adam continues talking about the use of our places as hospitals during the Great War.
In 1914 it was the Canadian Red Cross which took up the offer by Lord Astor for the use of polo fields, tennis courts and Taplow Lodge for the duration of the war. A hospital was built on the site and named the HRH Duchess of Connaught Hospital. Cliveden Park contains one of the only titled ‘war cemeteries’ in Britain, containing the burial places of 28 Canadians including two nursing sisters, two Americans and others from Britain, Australia and New Zealand. The cemetery is laid out as a sunken Roman garden, with symbolic broken pillars, a large font, and an allegoric statue. The markers are the original, rather small plain stones still recumbent on the graves.
Morden Hall would also see use as a hospital during the war; its operations were run directly by London Hospitals. Polesden Lacey would become a convalescent home for officers; although missing from the Red Cross list for auxiliary hospitals it was probably offered for use directly to the War Office. Convalescent homes were not intended for soldiers with serious injuries and acted instead as a place to keep soldiers within military discipline whilst they recuperated.
First Five Photographs of Patients and Nurse at Morden Hall
During the First World War, Clandon Park saw a total of 5,059 Soldiers admitted and 747 operations carried out. The HRH Duchess of Connaught Hospital at Cliveden Park treated over 24,000 casualties. In 1920 the then secretary of state for war, Winston Churchill, signed a certificate of thanks for the use of Polesden Hospital during the war.
These words of individual thanks from a Belgian soldier treated at Clandon Park also bear testament to the important role each of these places had played in providing medical care during the war years.
“My noble and faithful heart always holds a memory of the good care that I received at Clandon Park Hospital. She welcomed me with gratitude and devotion I will always be grateful for this”
Next week I will continue by looking at the some of the personal stories linked to the Great War and our places.