We had a trip out today (it has been Easter Bank Holiday Monday here in the UK) and we visited the stately home and deer park at Dunham Massey, which is owned by the National Trust. We went because the weather was promising to be good (for once) and there was a display that I was particularly keen on seeing.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, the House has been turned into a museum. It was a military hospital during the conflict, run and staffed by Lady Grey, the widow of the 9th Earl of Stamford whose family had owned the property for hundreds of years previously.
It was fascinating to see just how stately homes such as these were turned into military hospitals at the time and to see what kind of medical treatment was actually available then. As you may know, I’m studying the history of medicine and society for an Open University module towards my degree, and as military medicine is a part of that study, to actually see it laid out before me helped me make sense of what I have been reading about recently.
As today was a public holiday there were also some “living history” actors performing in the museum, which I thought was fantastic. They helped bring the human side of the story to life, and the “nurses” also managed to portray what a change in the prospects of young women had been brought about because of the war.
Here are some photographs I took of the museum part of the day today. I will post some more of the rest of the house another time.
I found the visit really useful for my studies, and it brought it a lot closer to home, making me realise that this was literally only a hundred years ago. The set-up at Dunham Massey and the Stamford Military Hospital was typical of what would have been replicated in stately homes all over the country for young men recouperating and healing after horrific injuries in the war. I hadn’t realised that military hospitals like these were for a very select few – the ones who had a chance at being healed and cured, and who could withstand the 3 or 4 day journey from the front-line. Those who were considered too far injured weren’t even given the chance to get back home to hospitals such as these.
What amazed/surprised/astounded/disgusted me was that in many cases, once they were patched up here they were sent back to the front line to fight again.
The museum and the house were fascinating and I would heartily recommend you go and see for yourself if you can. The display is on til November I think, but if you’re studying A218 with the OU as I am, then try and go and see it before June 3rd. It is helpful revision!!