Last Sunday saw Stokesay Court step back exactly 100 years to the 19th of April 1915 when the house opened its doors as a Red Cross Auxiliary Military Hospital for soldiers wounded in the first world war.
To commemorate the event the in-house team put on a weekend in conjunction with the British Red Cross to educate and inform the public about this piece of local history and the part Stokesay Court played in the national war effort and also, of course, to help raise funds for the Red Cross.
Everyone joined in.
There were recruits from RAF Shawbury to park the cars and manage the traffic; the Great War Society set up a field hospital on the front lawn and parked a WW1 ambulance in the entrance court;
Great War Society at Stokesay
There was archive material from our own archives as well as from the British Red Cross and the Shropshire Regimental Museum; there were performers in costume preparing for an afternoon concert based on one given by the soldiers recuperating here in 1918 and even our very own tour guide Sara dressed for the occasion as a WW1 hospital nurse.
The special concert programme was written for the event by Genevieve Tudor, produced by David Wright, and staged by a local group of actors and musicians with help from Kaleidoscope Theatre. Extracts from letters written by the soldiers and their wives after they left Stokesay were read from the gallery, interspersed with narration, music and songs. Mrs Rotton’s place as accompanist was taken by Jane Hopkinson, who played Frank Bridge’s Three Improvisations for piano left-hand, originally written for pianist Douglas Fox who had lost his right arm in the First World War.
A busy couple of days saw plenty of people come to find out more about the part Stokesay Court and its owner, Mrs Rotton, played in helping soldiers overcome their injuries and it was lovely too to welcome descendants of soldiers who had convalesced here, the family of the nurses who worked here and even cousins of the Allcroft family who originally built the house, all of whom were able to tell what they knew of the time, while Walter Allcroft’s granddaughter, Sara Austin, was the performers’ hairstylist.
There was so much interest in the Stokesay Court archive material and the rooms we dressed to evoke the period that we will continue to try and show as much as possible of this on our tours throughout the season and make what we can available on the web site.
So, watch this space or book a tour …
And enjoy our wonderful cakes when you visit!