A wartime love story
WAAF Dorothy Preston (Gipsy) and Canadian airman Harry Olsen (Olie) met in 1942 at the Alice Hawthorn pub in Nun Monkton. “..it was love at first sight! Everyone who was there that night knew it!” But Olie’s plane was shot down over Germany and he was taken prisoner. After the war he returned to Canada, and sadly, they never met again. However, their love left a permanent mark on Beningbrough, in Olie’s graffiti on the drawing room fireplace and a love story to tell.
To the back of the American Garden are three silver birch trees which were planted as a memorial by a British Army Officer. He married a German woman, whose German husband had died fighting the Russians on the Eastern Front. She showed him a photograph of his grave, marked only by two birch twigs. The British Officer planted two birch trees, in memory of his wife and her first husband, and then returned to Beningbrough some years later to plant one for himself.
Recent projects on Beningbrough at war have resulted in a collection of people's memories and stories. Clifford Hill's room on the second floor, now houses parts of this collection. The room acts as an open archive and can be visited, when the hall is open, to learn more about the stories of those who served at Beningbrough during the second world war.