Daughter of the 3rd Baron Poltimore, Violet Bampfylde was a prominent society figure and married Richard Onslow in 1906. During the First World War Lady Onslow took charge as Commandant of Clandon Park Hospital. She also became responsible for two nearby convalescent hospitals.
Lady Onslow proudly wore her uniform in public but described the lack of respect often experienced by women in uniform, which were associated with servants or the suffragette movement. She wrote of being pushed aside in taxi ranks and of being ignored by society friends.
Richard Onslow was a career diplomat, enjoying a successful career in Morocco, Spain, Germany and Russia. He returned to England to marry Violet and inherited the Earldom in 1911. When war broke out Lord Onslow became a Special Constable. He organised bridge-watching duties and was also tasked to ensure that villagers destroyed all strong alcohol in case of invasion.