In poignantly timely discovery, days before the centenary of Armistice Day, we found a series of photographs of Kings Weston dating to the First World War. We’ve previously shared photos of the outside of the house during its time as an Auxiliary Hospital caring for the wounded sent back from the front; this new series of images shows the grand state rooms reutilised as hospital wards.
The interiors are shown emptied of their ornamental furniture and paintings and laid out with beds for soldiers. The Vanbrugh Room, “breakfast room”,and Drawing Room (now the oak room) are all seen in duty as wards, where Red Cross nurses tend to their patients. The largest of the wards, now the Vanbrugh Room is seen with empty bookcases and around sixteen simple iron beds. All the images show small groups of wounded servicemen surrounded by the volunteer Red Cross nurses who tended to them. Surprisingly the rooms are adorned with numerous vases of flowers.
Some of the photos are numbered and we’d be keen to find the rest. If anyone knows where these originally came from we’d be keen to find out, and we’re trying to speak to the Avon and Somerset Constabulary archives from where the images first came.
We’ve also collated the known records of Red Cross nurses who worked at the house from the national database of First World War volunteers which can be found in thisPDF. Many were local ladies who wanted to make their contribution to the war effort, including three members of the Moore family from Penlea in Shirehampton. It’s likely that some of these nurses are those who appear in rediscovered photos.