Marking the centenary of The Great War, a new exhibition at Woburn Abbey is demonstrating the roles played by the 11th Duke and Duchess, the Abbey and the people from the Estate and surrounding villages during the conflict.
Valiant Hearts: World War I – Woburn and its Stories will present a number of unique narratives, giving visitors an insight into what life was like for people connected to the Estate duringthe conflict.
Within the exhibition, visitors will be able to explore a re-creation of the training garrison established and paid for by the 11th Duke, and read some of the poignant letters from commanding officers that meant the Duke was able to follow the progress of each of these local soldiers throughout the war.
The exhibition will also explain how the 11th Duchess converted parts of Woburn Abbey in order to create one of the most advanced hospitals of the time. Visitors will find out how she, and hundreds of other women, put their nursing training to good use in treating wounded soldiers returning from the front.
An extract from the 11th Duchess’ diary reads: “This hospital began to receive patients on the 7th September 1914 and was closed as a military hospital on the 31st March 1920. The accommodation was for 120 beds. 2,453 serving soldiers passed through the hospital.”
Valiant Hearts has taken its name from a hymn inscribed on a war memorial, in the nearby town of Ampthill, that is dedicated to all the soldiers who were trained at the Duke’s garrison and who subsequently lost their lives during the war. The staff team at Woburn Abbey are currently trying to contact friends and relatives of these soldiers, as well as the nurses who worked in the hospital, in order to tell their personal stories within the exhibition. The exhibition opened on Friday and runs until September 28. Find out more at www.woburnabbey.co.uk/ValiantHearts.
> Photo: Patients and Nurses Outside The Chinese Dairy