Sanctuary from the Trenches

This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.

Sanctuary from the Trenches – Stamford Hospital at Dunham Massey Hall

We’re marking the centenary of the First World War by telling the story of the Stamford Hospital, the convalescent hospital in the hall in which 282 soldiers were treated between April 1917 and January 1919.

So how will your visit be different this year?

Well, the elegant Edwardian interiors have gone. In 1917 the Saloon was turned into a ward with 25 beds for ill and injured ‘other ranks’ soldiers – the Stamford Hospital was for Tommies, not officers. In the ward discover the story of some of the soldiers, their injuries and illnesses and how their conditions were treated almost 100 years ago.

The large space in the Great Hall became the soldiers’ recreation room, where they spent time out of bed, had their meals, played games and listened to music. Photographs also show the soldiers out of doors in the inner courtyard and garden, benefiting from the ‘fresh air cure’ whatever the temperature! You’ll find out about how the soldiers spent their time during convalescence, and perhaps enjoy a game of cards yourself.

The billiard room was the nurses’ station, and here you’ll find out about the group of women who cared for the soldiers. The social changes brought about by the First World War impacted on the Grey family of Dunham Massey – Lady Jane became a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse aged 17 and helped in the hospital. You’ll discover an aspect of her story at the bottom of the grand staircase, the area that was used as the operating theatre.

Family life went on at Dunham but would never be the same again. Head upstairs to find out about Lady Stamford’s role as the commandant of the hospital. A prolific letter writer, much of what we know of the hospital comes from her correspondence with her family, soldiers and soldiers’ families.

What’s happened to the objects that have moved?

During the First World War, the Great Gallery was used as a storeroom and that’s what we’re using it for too. Some objects have gone into store and some for conservation. One of the biggest things to plan was the picture-hang, where we rearranged lots of the paintings to fit in the ones that had moved from the Great Hall and Saloon. Some objects were selected for the ‘Treasures from the Collection’ exhibition allowing individual pieces to shine whilst also showing the eclectic nature of a country house collection.