Tag Archives: Hospital

Kings Weston as a WWI hospital

We were recently sent this fascinating photo of Kings Weston house when it was in use as a WWI Auxiliary Hospital. It’s also unusual in that it is conveniently dated, to November 1918, towards the end of the conflict.

The photo was sent to us by Hazel Rowcliffe who shares that her grandfather is the gentleman playing chess on the right and he would have been 18 years old at the time of the photo. She says she doesn’t think he ever really spoke about his time in the war, but the interest he shows in chess saw him play competitively when he was older.

The scene is set in the library, now the Vanbrugh Room in the house. The tall library shelves have been stripped as part of the conversion of the room to a ward, along with all the family furniture and belongings. Only a remarkably tall mirror over the fireplace remains to ornament the walls, perhaps to large and fragile to consider moving. Temporary light fittings are rigged-up hanging from the shelves for the beds, each of which displays a red cross on its linen.

The nurse on the far right looks to be Sybil Napier Miles, the wife of the ‘squire’ Philip Napier Miles. She wears three bars on her left arm denoting three years of service as a volunteer nurse, which would correspond with the time that Kings Weston had been operating as a hospital. She took on management of the auxiliary hospital when it opened in 1915, and received the OBE for her efforts.  

Mystery of the Kings Weston hospital magazine

We’ve retold the story of the First World War Auxiliary hospital at Kings Weston before, but a new facet of hospital life has just come into our hands: A smartly designed front cover for the Kings Weston Hospital Magazine.

The front cover of the Kings Weston Hospital Magazine. June 1917
The advert for Lennards Boots and shoes on the inside of the magazine cover.

The magazine would have been published for hospital patients, probably written by the patients as part of their recuperation, and to fend off boredom. There were newspapers published by servicemen in the trenches, camps, and troopships, and others are known from other military hospitals, but this is the first known from Kings Weston. Most were replicated using simple methods, whatever was to hand, and could involve carbon paper, basic duplicating machines, or even written by hand. At Kings Weston it appears that some significant resources were available, with a coloured card cover, embossed and with a professionally produced photograph of the house pasted-on as an eye-catching centrepiece. On the inside cover an advert for Lennards Boot & Shoe Co suggests that they were one of the sponsors of the magazine.  
Marked by hand, a date of June 1917 appears on the cover. The house had been turned over for hospital use by Philip Napier Miles and his wife Sybil in 1915 so would have been familiar to recovering servicemen for a couple of years. Was the magazine a one-off, or was it a regular publication? The date suggests it could have been monthly journal, or was it one-off?
There’s one more major puzzle; where is the rest of the magazine, and what did it contain?  Frustratingly everything but the front cover is missing, the cover sliced off, perhaps as a souvenir. It would have been fascinating to read the contents, but no other copy is known to exist. If you know different please get in touch!

Injured troops recuperate in the care of Red Cross nurses on the garden front of Kings Weston. 

New light on WWI Kings Weston auxiliary hospital. 

We’re very grateful for the following short report compiled by Ann Cunningham. Ann contacted us a short time ago and has helped add a new insight into the WWI years: 

In 1914 Kings Weston House became an auxiliary hospital for wounded soldiers in WW1. From 1914 to 1919 there were many nurses and workers who came here to help and support the injured. After doing some research, I have found the following nurses that worked at the house. There are 7 in total.

Miss Hilda Prance

From May 2nd 1915 until June 1918, Hilda was here for approx 18 months.

Miss Mabel C N Moore

From May 2nd 1915 until June 1919

Miss Frances Geraldine Moore

From May 2 1915 to January 1917

Miss Ethel M. J Moore

From May 3rd 1915 to January 1917

Miss Alice Maud Muriel Borase

From Nov 1st to 18th 1916

Miss Joan Badock

Worked for one year in 1916

Miss Ethel Maud Adams

March 1918 to March 1919. Ethel was a Ward sister and also a night duty nurse.

Ethel was born in 1879 in Long Stock, Hampshire, England. Her parents were James and Susan Adams. She has the following brothers and sisters. Sarah, Annie Elizabeth, John George, and Herbert Evans.

Soldiers and nurses pose on the garden steps of Kings Weston House.

Ethel has been documented as being a Pioneer Nurse. In 1887 the first register for professional nurses was founded. It was the first in the world. It was called  the Royal British Nurses’ Association (RBNA). Its aim was to provide a snapshot of the nurses training and qualifications.

Ethel has been documented as registering in 1915, at this time it was voluntary, but by 1919 it was compulsory and finally in this year the Nurses Registration Act became law.

Further information can be found about Ethel and other pioneer nurses at http://www.kingscollections.org

Anyone that is interested in learning more about the Red Cross, what they did, or simply wanting to search for other nurses can visit: www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War. Information has also been sourced from http://www.ancestry.co.uk

KWAG’s first World War exhibition boards can be viewed here

A view from an angle last enjoyed a generation ago; The garden front of Kings Weston over the recently relaid lawn after the ruins of QEH were recently removed.