Our work

Red Poppies and White Butterflies

Visitors at one of our WW1 workshops with TV’s Jules Hudson  © Nigel Gibson & Hudson's Historic Houses and Gardens

Visitors at one of our WW1 workshops with TV’s Jules Hudson

To commemorate the centenary of the start of World War One and funded by the Hertiage Lottery Fund, we've been working with community groups, local schools, visitors and volunteers to discover the small stories of the Great War. We've been staggered by the enthusiasm and interest shown in our project and overwhelmed by the stories shared. Inspired by such stories, next year we will be holding a series of exciting and innovative WW1 themed events and workshops. There will be lots of opportunities to join in, share your own stories and learn more about life at Nostell during WW1.

Nostell's WW1 Alltoment

Allotment at Nostell Priory  © (c) Nationaltrust

Allotment at Nostell Priory

22nd & 23rd April 1pm-4pm
Join us on Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd April between 1-4pm to help Nostell Priory grow its own wartime vegetables. Help our gardeners dig, sow and make scarecrows and learn more about the vital role children played at harvest time during the Great War. In the Old Kitchen there will be the opportunity to discover your own family's wartime story with the help of our volunteers.

Red Poppies and White Butterflies

Red poppies and white butterflies on our meadow wall © Sarah Burnage

Red poppies and white butterflies on our meadow wall

The inspiration for the title of our project came from this remarkable description of the battlefields after the war.

'Yesterday I visited the battlefield of last year. The place was scarcely recognisable. Instead of a wilderness of ground torn up by shell, the ground was a garden of wild flowers and tall grasses. Most remarkable of all was the appearance of many thousands of white butterflies which fluttered around. It was as if the souls of the dead soldiers had come to haunt the spot where so many fell. It was eerie to see them. And the silence! It was so still that I could almost hear the beat of the butterflies’ wings.'

Unnamed British officer in 1919

Lost voices of WW1

Faces of those who lived and worked at Nostell Priory during World War One  © Sarah Burnage

Faces of those who lived and worked at Nostell Priory during World War One

Listen to voices from Nostell's World War One past brought to life by actors from Yew Tree Youth Theatre. Hear the voices of Rowland and Charles Winn as they struggle with life on the front lines, or that of their sister Edith and her desperate attempt to assure her father that she had made a suitable match in Guy Westmacott. Also that of army chaplain G.M Ambrose who had the sad duty of informing John Turton's family that he had succumbed to gas poisoning.

Community work

Participants at a Red Poppies and White Butterflies workshop © Nigel Gibson & Hudson Historic Houses and Gardens

Participants at a Red Poppies and White Butterflies workshop

As part of our Heritage Lottery Funded project 'Red Poppies and White Butterflies' we have been working closely with the local community. Through events, workshops and family history days we have been able to gathered a remarkable community archive. Visit our Community Work page to find out more.

Nostell's people

Photograph of the locals gathering at Nostell Priory for Hospital Sunday   © National Trust

Photograph of the locals gathering at Nostell Priory for Hospital Sunday

Discover what happened to the people who lived and worked around Nostell Priory during WW1. From soldiers to miners, mothers to munition workers. These never before told stories, shared with us by visitors and members of the local community, offer a vivid picture of the profound impact war had on local lives.

Duty Calls: The Country House at War

Duty Calls: The Country House at Time of War  © Yorkshire Country House Partnership

Duty Calls: The Country House at Time of War

Red Poppies and White Butterflies at Nostell Priory is part of the Duty Calls project organised by the Yorkshire Country House Partnership. Duty Calls looks at the impact of various conflicts on nine of Yorkshire’s major country houses. It examines the experiences of their occupants and wider communities.

Nostell Priory during the Great War

Nostell's visitors remember their WW1 ancestors

Visitors from Crofton Historical Society share their WW1 stories

As part of our WW1 project we've been asking visitors to contribute to our commemorative meadow wall by adding a red poppy or white butterfly in remembrance of their first world war ancestors. Here are some of the messages which have been left.

A lifetime trying to forget

Claud Hill a lifetime trying to forget © Sarah Burnage

Claud Hill a lifetime trying to forget

Remembering Claud Harold Hill of the East Yorkshire Regiment 1885-1975. A life time trying to forget the atrocities.

Rest in Peace

Jack Hall killed at the Somme © Sarah Burnage

Jack Hall killed at the Somme

In memory of my Grandfather Jack Hall. He was killed in the Battle of the Somme in 1915, aged 24 years. My mother was only 3 years old. Rest in peace.

Loved and missed

A Grandad loved and missed  © Sarah Burnage

A Grandad loved and missed

In memory of my great grandad who I never met, who fought and fell in the Great War. Rest in peace and know that you were loved and missed.

A medical orderly

Arthur Hall remembered  © Sarah Burnage

Arthur Hall remembered

Arthur Hall born 1877 at Darfield, S. Yorks, was a medical orderly during WW1. Received injuries which necessitated the amputation of his leg and an artificial limb. P.J.

Only there a month

Thomas Bowery remembered  © Sarah Burnage

Thomas Bowery remembered

In memory of Thomas Bowery who died in action at Ypres on 13/06/1915 aged 21. He had only been there a month before he was killed.

Two years in a P.O.W camp

Benjamin Stark remembered © Sarah Burnage

Benjamin Stark remembered

My Grandfather, Benjamin Stark, Corporal in the West Yorkshire Brigade. Captured and spent 2 years in a P.O.W. camp.

Remembered with honour

Alfred Bradshaw  © Sarah Burnage

Alfred Bradshaw

Remembered with honour Alfred G. Bradshaw who served in the West Surrey Regiment and died in service in Alexandria, Egypt on 12th September 1915. Now resting in Alexandria military memorial cemetery Egypt. Our Great Uncle.

Died at just 18

William Bellamy remembered  © Sarah Burnage

William Bellamy remembered

In memory of my Uncle Wilfred, Private Wilfred Bellamy 59512, Northumberland Fusiliers, who died Tuesday 16th April 1918, aged 18.

Discover your own family's WW1 past

Even with just a small amount of information you can begin the process of finding out more about your own WW1 ancestor. Just a name can be enough to get you started. Look out for our drop-in days and events and let us help you to discover your own WW1 stories

Share your WW1 stories

Red poppies and white butterflies on our meadow wall

No matter what your ancestors did during WW1 we'd love you to share your stories. Visit Nostell and contribute to our red poppies and white butterflies wall; share your photos, letters and objects on our Flickr group; or email us at sarah.burnage@nationaltrust.org.uk


Take part with your group

WW1 Soldiers in the Dardenelles

If you are a group then you can take part together. Learn more about how the Great War affected Nostell and its community, share your stories or learn how your people may have been affected. Free of charge. For more information call 01924 866836.