Major Lord John Spencer Cavendish

Lord John's Armour displayed in the Entrance Hall

I have been really interested in all of the events commemorating the centenary of the First World War and was hoping I could contribute in some small way.

Hardwick has its own connection to the war in one of the members of the Cavendish family, affectionately known as ‘Lord John’.

We have Lord John’s suit of armour on display in the back of the Entrance Hall, and I had never really though about its history or the man who had owned it. With it being a suit of armour I didn’t even consider that it could have such a connection to the First World War. The two images, ‘knight in shining armour’ and ‘tommy in the trenches’, seem like they should be hundreds of years apart and not within the span of one man’s career.

http://www.masonicgreatwarproject.org.uk/images/individual/cavenjs.jpg

Lord John was born on the 25th March 1875 to Emma Elizabeth Lascelles and Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Edward Cavendish, has was the youngest of their three sons.

As the youngest son John would not inherit the family property, or be expected to follow his father into politics, so he made the military his career. He joined the First Regiment of Life Guards, a Cavalry Regiment, on the 3rd February 1897.

He was part of the First Regiment of Life Guards and served with distinction in the South African Was, for which he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order in April 1901. When the Great War broke out in 1914 Lord John joined the British Expeditionary Forces and was deployed to France on the 16th August 1914.

Less than three months later on the 20th October 1914 Major Lord John Spencer Cavendish was killed in action.

An account of John’s death by an unknown soldier, dated 24th October 1914, who served alongside him recalls that John was killed instantly by German Maxim Machine Gun fire whilst leading a regiment trying to hold the line in the village. The account talks about how well liked John was, saying that he was so nice to work with, and how much his regiments would feel his loss.

After his death Lord John’s family received a huge number of letters of condolence, showing how well thought of he, and his family, were thought of. Lord John had a successful military career earning the respect of those he served with and recognition for his good service.

I started my search for information within Hardwick’s own information, then looking on Google (where else!) where I found a website that catalogs graves: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=55956202

The Find A Grave website was really useful for getting the basic information and then using Ancestry.com, a brilliant site for this sort of research, I was able to flesh out the story a little more. I typed in the little bits of information I had found already and Ancestry recommended sources it thought matched, so helpful. I ended up finding several scanned images of primary sources which were absolutely fascinating!

Finally I contacted Chatsworth Archives to see if they could help me with any information about the actual circumstances of Lord John’s death. All I had up to this point was dates when things happened, but no details which was frustrating. I had though they would be too busy to help but they were really helpful and had a number of sources, including the account of Lord John’s I mentioned above.

I have really enjoyed doing this project and even though the story had a tragic end it was nice to know Lord John was so well though of, I have become rather fond of him! On monday I shall be remembering Major Lord John Spencer Cavendish and the men like him who served in the Great War for what they believed was right.

If you want to find some more information about the events taking place over the next four years or about the men who gave their live in the Great War I have included some links I found interesting and useful below.

First World War Centenary Information: www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/first-world-war-centenary

Lives of the First World War: www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org

Every Man Remembered: www.everymanremembered.org

Imperial War Museums: www.iwm.org.uk/corporate/projects-partnerships/first-world-war-centenary-partnership

A correction

So as I mentioned in my 100th post, I love learning new things, and have learnt so much since working with the National Trust! I learnt another new thing the other day from a colleague, about some false information I had posted on my blog a little while ago.

In my post about Smythson’s year I posted this picture and said it was a Mason’s Mark outside the Hall:

The OS Bench Mark

The OS Bench Mark

However I was told by one of Hardwick’s own team of Masons that it is actually an Ordnance Survey Bench Mark, so I did a bit of research to understand exactly what this means.

An Ordnance Survey Bench Marks were used so that when you found the mark you know the exact height above sea level of where you are. There are around 500 000 marks still around, but that number is waning as buildings are redeveloped and since the system is no longer being maintained the Bench Marks are not being replaced. I found all this information on the Ordnance Survey website, found here: http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/benchmarks/

So now I know I have a feeling I shall be spotting these marks everywhere!

Caldicot Castle and Croome Park

A few weekends ago we did our final re-enactment show of the year at Caldicot Castle, in Wales. It was the furthest I have ever driven in one go since passing me test so on the way back mum booked us a hotel so we could split the journey in two and visit a few National Trust properties on the way.

The view of the authentic camp from the top of the castle

The view of the authentic camp from the top of the castle

I have always loved Caldicot, with it being the final show of the year everyone is in really good spirits, and it feels like a real celebration of the season! After the battle me and some friends took the chance to take a few photos in kit. It was the first show where I wore my new dress, made by yours truly!

Me at the top of Caldicot Castle

Me at the top of Caldicot Castle

Knights ready for battle!

Knights ready for battle!

The first Trust property we visited on the drive home was Croome Park. I have visited Croome in my very first week at Uni, but that was before the Trust had purchased the house. The Trust have now owned the house for about 5 years and since it has always been in private ownership there is extensive conservation work to be done. When we visited the property they were having a huge set of scaffolding being built on one end.

Croome Court

Croome Court

Inside the building there is no collection, most of the furniture that is now in there is from Ikea and any decorative pieces have been represented with drawings on hard board. Interesting enough they do know where many of the pieces that once belonged in the house are now, but it is mostly museums and private collections now, with little hope of bringing it all back together.

A fake over-mantle over a real fireplace

A fake over-mantle over a real fireplace

The interpretation of the rooms has been done in a really interesting way, the information was printed onto fabric that was suspended in a metal frame, echoing the scaffolding around the exterior. Each stand also had a drawing of the people that it was talking about. I have never seen any other trust interpretation done in the same manner.

One of the interpretation stands

One of the interpretation stands

The information in the house presented its entire history, talking about all the different occupants and not just the family that had once called it home, I really liked that. A different aspect of the story was talked about in each room and it was all brought together on the Dining Room table.

The table in the Dining Room, detailing the house's history

The table in the Dining Room

My favorite room was the Dining Room, where the original plaster work on the walls had been painted by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness that once lived at Croome. Apparently there had been a public vote as to whether to leave the paint or to strip it back, and I’m glad it has been left as it is so pretty and colourful!

The decoration in the Dining Room

The decoration in the Dining Room

At the moments there is so much work to be done at Croome, and it is going to need a lot of funding. Only a few rooms are open at the moment, and the stanchions roping them off have these little notes to peak people’s interest in the ongoing project. However, it must be quite liberating to have a blank canvas to work with, and such a rich and interesting collection of stories to draw inspiration from.

The tags on all the ropes

The tags on all the ropes

The visit feels very much like a ‘work in progress’ but I will be really interested to see where it goes.

The September issue of House Matters is out!

Ellen-Scarlett:

Just wanted to share with you all Hardwick’s House Matters bulletin, written by my brilliant colleague Claire!

Originally posted on nthardwick:

Image for website link
House Matters is the monthly newsletter produced by the Conservation Team at Hardwick Hall. We hope you enjoy reading of our latest projects and interesting facts about how we care for the house and collection.

Newsletter – House Matters September 2014

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The little things

With all the huge projects we have had happening at Hardwick this summer it is easy for the little things to get glossed over, however the little things are so important as well. Our weekly clean on a Monday, daily cleans on Wednesdays to Sundays, checking for pests, monitoring environmental conditions, managing volunteers, talking to visitors and millions more tasks still have to happen even when we are preoccupied by opening exhibitions or installing art work!

We have achieved an amazing amount this season aside from all the bigger things I have been blogging about. So hear are some of the smaller tasks I have been doing recently.

We finished the Annual Deep Clean!

A big deal that unfortunately we were too busy to really celebrate. In contrast, we didn’t get our Deep Clean finished last year before we closed at the end of the season so this is an amazing achievement for the team. Thanks to good planning and our wonderful team of staff and volunteers we got a huge amount of the Deep Clean finished over the closed season, and we have kept up the momentum until we had checked everything on our list off!

Cleaning the Over-mantle in Miss Webb's Room

Cleaning the Over-mantle in Miss Webb’s Room

We’re half way through our summer works program!

The ‘summer works’ are the conservation cleaning tasks that happen several times a year, not just once in the Deep Clean. Things like cleaning bed flats and chairs that get too much dust landing on them for us to leave them. We split all our summer works into the things that need to happen at the start of summer, and those which we won’t do until the summer ends and our visitors numbers drop. Thanks to the fact that we had already finished our Deep Clean it meant we could focus our effort on these task, and last week we finished the first half of our list.

Cleaning the velvet cushions in the Long Gallery

Cleaning the velvet cushions in the Long Gallery

Bits Boxes.

One of my personal projects has been to revitalise the Hardwick Bits Box. I did a similar project at Powis, however this was a much bigger undertaking! Where Powis’ Bits were already in organised boxes, the Hardwick’s Bits Boxes were two huge crates full of years of bits! So my job involved going through the bits, cataloging every one, writing labels for each and putting them in a bag, putting these bags into location specific boxes. Believe me when I say, there are only so many ways you can describe a broken piece of wood!

Before . . .

Before . . .

The new and improved bits box system allows the bits to be easily identified if ever there comes a time when we have a conservator in who could re-attach some for us. As a result of my work several bits have already been returned when we had our furniture conservator here for one of our big projects. Now I have overhauled the system hopefully it shouldn’t get in that state again, so I have helped out the future Conservation Assistants of Hardwick Hall (you’re welcome! :P )The final part of this task is for me to just finish typing up all the bits records, all 340-odd of them!

. . . and After!

. . . and After!

Felting the Still Room.

A small task that has needed doing for a while was to put pieces of felt underneath the objects that have been added to the still room. If you have even noticed when you go around Trust properties, often objects that sit on pieces of furniture have a layer of something between the two. This protects not only the surface an objects sits on, but also the base of the object.

A felt pad for a pot

A felt pad for a pot

The protective layer can be several things, felt or cork pieces, and type of foam called plasterzote or a thin type of clear plastic like laminate. I chose to use beige felt for the Still Room as it blends nicely with the paint colour of the surfaces. For most of the objects it was just a case of cutting circles that fit the base closely so the visual effect is not spoiled. The only tricky part was when it came to cutting the felt for the fish shaped mould!

The Fish

The Fish

More 50 things!

Last summer we decided to adapt the ’50 things to do before you’re 11 and 3/4′ so that we could bring some of the activities into the Hall. This year we decided to do the same, but not to make things easy for ourselves we wanted to chose different activities so any children visiting us again would get a new experience. I love this idea, and anything that gets us to look at how people interact with the Hall differently! We have barefoot walks on our lovely new matting in the High Great Chamber (something I love to do), caves to explore, dens to be built, birds to be spotted, and my personal favourite ‘catch a falling leaf’. Each leaf has an interesting Hardwick fact written on to be discovered, which I really enjoyed writing as I learnt something new as well! This particular ‘thing’ was a real team effort with the original idea coming from Sadie, me researching the facts, Jen practicallising the idea and writing the facts onto the leaves and Claire going over the words in black pen. The finished product almost looks like a work of art!

Our leafy installation

Our leafy installation

So there we go, just some of the other wonderful things that have been keeping me occupied. But don’t think that just because these are all now finished I shall be sitting on my bottom eating cake (that only happens at tea break, honest!) we have so many other projects in various staged of fruition at Hardwick, getting these done just frees up my time for me to get stuck into the next task! Nothing beats the satisfaction of getting thing done!

Dunham Massey – Part Two

Hello again. As I was getting towards the end of writing my last post I realised how long it had turned out so I decided to try and avoid boring anyone too much I would split it into two parts. So here is the second part of my thoughts on my recent trip to Dunham Massey. Really long post are just what happens I guess when you have so much to say about something!

The last part of the tour downstairs was the ‘Operating Theater’ at the bottom of the main stairs. It was a really interesting scene, where surgical suits that seemed to be filled with talking ghosts stood, and oral histories played. The ‘ghosts’ told us about an operation that had taken place in the very spot, and featured a recording from Lady Jane Grey herself. This element had been done in such an interesting way, I found it fascinating! There was just enough to keep your attention, without too much to make it what could have been a really gruesome element (which I was very pleased about as I have been known to faint at the sight of blood!).

The operating theater at the bottom of the stairs

The operating theater at the bottom of the stairs

Unfortunately for me as soon as I got upstairs the absorbing atmosphere from the ground floor was lost. The two rooms had very little to indicate whether we were still supposed to be in WWI. The background noises ceased and it all suddenly felt very flat. I had hoped to see more vignettes upstairs as well but we didn’t see any more of these. Once we got into the Gallery I felt the atmosphere return a bit more but only briefly, and there our visit to the hospital was over and we moved into an exhibition of the collection for the rest of the visit. Because I had been expecting more of the safe to continue upstairs I was a bit confused, which seems unfair considering how well the ground floor had been done!

The gallery upstairs

The Gallery upstairs

The exhibition that followed on after the hospital story had ended was very interesting. It was called ‘Treasures from the Collection’ and had been though up to appease any visitors who had come the Dunham to see a stately home and all it’s fine furnishings. Admittedly I didn’t get this until it was explained to be, but the information and items on display were really interesting and beautiful.

The Treasures Exhibition

The Treasures Exhibition

The library was beautiful. Libraries full of old books really are some of the most amazing locations and the one at Dunham has shelves that tower above your head filled with hundreds of matching leather-bound books. Dunham also has a huge kitchen complex which was full of shiny copper, I do love seeing rows of gleaming copper!

In the Kitchens

In the Kitchens

Over all I had a really nice day at Dunham, the downstairs rooms had been really well interpreted and it made for a very absorbing visit. It was just a same that the upstairs rooms did not have the same depth which sort of spoiled the visit, unfortunately. I am hopefully going back to Dunham again soon, and am looking forward to it, I will make sure to spend some more time in the downstairs rooms fully exploring them, especially as I already know what is upstairs.

The Library

The Library

I would recommend anyone with an interest in WWI history to visit Sanctuary as it has been really well done, but I would also tell people in advance about the difference in the atmospheres between the floors. I think I rushed my first visit as I was too curious to see what else there was to see, so I will take my time and absorb it all if I go again, and try to follow the individual stories throughout the tour more closely.

It will be interesting to see what the property choose to do after Sanctuary is over. It has been billed as lasting for two years and I’m not sure if a property can just go back after something so completely different, but also, what can you do as a follow up act. Properties rarely have several stories as powerful as this, or the timing on a national scale that brings the story into a much bigger picture, let alone the time and money to do this every two years. Part of me wonders if this was too much work for only two years, so maybe they will extend Sanctuary until the end of the centenary. I would be thinking about it but I suppose it depends if their visitor numbers trail off next season after all their press coverage has died down.

More interpretation in the Bagdad Ward

More interpretation in the Bagdad Ward

Talking to the team behind the project made me confident that if Hardwick had the same funding we could do something just as trans-formative and powerful. The thing the manager at Dunham said was that he felt he had the right team and the right timing to undertake such an extreme project. I feel like we have such a good team at Hardwick now that we could achieve anything we set our minds too given the right resources! Although with all the projects we’ve got in the pipeline maybe not for a good few years!

Dunham Massey is Stamford Military Hospital

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit Dunham Massey with a National Trust group. Dunham has done something pretty amazing and transformed what was a very standard Trust Stately Home into the military Hospital it actually was during the First World War. I had read quite a bit about ‘Sanctuary’ as the theme is called so when my line manager asked if I wanted to go and see it I jumped at the chance!

Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey

The best bit about going to see it with work (other than getting to go on a jolly and it being called ‘work’) was that after we had been round the house we had the opportunity to talk to the team behind sanctuary. It was really inspiring to see what could be done with a good idea, a fascinating story, and a lot of money!

The new Visitor Reception Building

The new Visitor Reception Building

During the First World War Dunham Massey, like many stately homes, was turned into a military hospital to help ease the burden that the War had placed on the under-prepared British health care system. At the beginning of the war Britain had only 7000 hospital bed, by the end there were 364000 thanks to Dunham Massey and other places like it.

From 1917, when it opened as a hospital, Dunham Massey was known as Stamford Military Hospital. The hospital was established and run by The Countess of Stamford, Penelope Grey. The ground floor became the hospital but the upper floors remained the family home, where all the furniture that had been in the rooms below rooms was also stored for the duration of the war.

The Bagdad Ward

The Bagdad Ward

The Countess took a personal interest in all the soldiers under her roof, and her daughter Lady Jane Grey became a VAD Nurse working at the hospital, and bringing great comfort to the wounded soldiers. Penelope’s son, Roger Grey, the 10th Earl of Stamford, was based in London for most of the war and used his position to help get supplies the hospital needed.

The interpretation of Dunham’s amazing story has been really well done, with the ‘Bagdad Ward’ in the Saloon being the highlight of the tour in my opinion. The room has been recreated according to contemporary photographs of the hospital. There are snippets of information all over the room, so many that you have to really explore the space to find it all.

Some of the hidden interpretation

Some of the hidden interpretation

The Visitor Reception Building had several panels of information about Dunham’s role in the First World War, and background information about the major changes that the national hospital system underwent during the War. There was also an introductory exhibition in one of the first rooms of the house, giving basic information about life in the Trenches and some of the injuries and illnesses that could send fighting men ‘back to Blighty’.

The introductory information

The introductory information

We were the first people in that day (eager beavers us Trust lot) so we have a chance to be in the room before the actors came in. There are sound effects of breathing, whistling, ringing phones and even music in the downstairs rooms which help create the atmosphere of the place. Being in that space was really absorbing. When the actors came in the room at first I wasn’t sure what to do. We had already been warned that they would not interact with us (thank goodness, audience participation terrifies me!) and I wanted to read all the information, which meant venturing near one of the actors who was lying in a bed.

The actor portraying Lady Jane Grey

The actor portraying Lady Jane Grey

However once I got past the slight awkwardness and just carried on looking it was fine, and then the actors started one of their vignettes. There are several different scripts and I have heard really good things about them. The two I saw were very good, you had to have a bit of background knowledge to fully understand the meaning of the conversation the two soldiers were having. If you did have this knowledge it was very though provoking.

Actors doing a scene

Actors doing a scene

However after hearing so many good things about how powerful and moving the acting was I came out of the property a little disappointed, knowing that there were elements I had not seen. We even went in the first couple of rooms again at the end of the day to try to catch some more acting, but again did not see the really emotive scenes we had heard about. I guess this is where ‘managing expectations’ really becomes important. I was a little bitter that Sanctuary was getting so much press but have now decided maybe it’s not a bad thing Hardwick it not in the public focus in such a big way. It is a lot to live up to, especially when the icing on the cake is something like Sanctuary’s acting, where it is very time dependent on the experience you will get.

This has turned into a really long post so I will leave it there for now and talk more about my visit to Dunham in the next post. Thanks for reading!