Clumber during the Great War - #ClumberAtWar

War Path 206th Clumber1913

As 2018 marks 100 years since the end of the First World War, we are sharing with you the experiences of Clumber Park’s men who fought and died during this world changing conflict.

The First World War was unlike any war before it in size and scale of impact. At the time it was known as the ‘Great War’ or the ‘War to end all wars’. For many of those who lived and worked at Clumber Park, their lives would never be the same again.

The Seventh Duke & Duchess of Newcastle
The Seventh Duke & Duchess of Newcastle
The Seventh Duke & Duchess of Newcastle

At the time war broke out the Seventh Duke of Newcastle, Henry Pelham Archibald Douglas Pelham Clinton and his wife, Cathleen Candy, were the owners of Clumber Park, living in Clumber House in the centre of the estate.

War had not been unexpected, and those who lived at Clumber Park would have been more aware than most, seeing an increase in training activity from the Territorial Army on the estate in the years before 1914.

During the conflict The Seventh Duke was very generous in supporting the families on his estate during the war. He didn’t charge rent to those who had a family member serving and he made up the difference between a man’s military wage and what he would have been paying them normally, so no one suffered extra financial hardship on top of already challenging times.

The Duchess, like many women of her station, also engaged in the war effort, helping to raise money for the troops and becoming co-president of the ‘Duty and Discipline’ movement, aiming to ensure the British people were alert and engaged in ‘national life’.

On the estate a ‘Clumber Park Chums Association’ was established to raise money to send parcels of food, cigarettes and other comforts out to the men of the estate who were serving. Canadian Forestry Corps are camping near Carburton and working at the estate’s new saw mill, Royal Engineers use the lake to practice building pontoon bridges and one of the first Land Girls Training Centres opens on the estate.

The Seventh Duke contributed towards war memorials at Shireoaks and Worksop as well as the memorial in Hardwick Village on the estate. By the end of the war 57 men from Clumber Park had enlisted, with nineteen giving their lives in service.

In particular this year we will be sharing the experiences of Rudolph Schmidt, a young man who grew up on the estate. Rudolph was born in France to Anna Karolina Schmidt, who was employed in the Paris household of the Seventh Duke’s Mother-in-law, Mrs Candy. When they Candy’s returned to England they brought Anna and Rudolph with them but sadly Anna passed away in 1890. Soon after it was decided Rudolph would be fostered by the Anderson family. George Anderson was a houseman and the family lived at Gas House Cottage in Clumber Park.

Rudolph Schmidt, centre-front.
Rudolph Schmidt, centre-front.
Rudolph Schmidt, centre-front.

Rudolph was schooled at the Village School and took an active part in services at the Chapel on the Estate. He started a carpentry apprenticeship when he was fourteen and rose to the rank of House Carpenter. He was also very actively involved in estate life playing on the cricket team and captaining the football team.

Though he had been part of the Sherwood Yeomanry for some years Rudolph joined the British Army soon after war was declared, serving with the Sherwood Foresters, taking part in the Dardanelles Campaign in Gallipoli and later fighting in France. It is in 1916 whilst serving in France that we will follow Rudolph, thanks to information from the diary he kept during this time.

Though Rudolph enlisted using his birth name, Rudolph Schmidt, he seems to quickly start using an anglicised name, Richard Smith, due to the national mistrust of anything German sounding. This change was not made legal until after the end of the war however, and today he is commemorated on the War memorial in the village as Richard Smith, but as Rudolph Schmidt in the Chapel. The royal family also anglicised their name during the First World War, from the house name Saxe-Coburgh and Gotha to the last name Windsor.

Join in on the conversation on Twitter by using #clumberatwar and catch regular real time updates from Rudolph's diary at www.twitter.com/ClumberParkNT

It is with huge thanks to Rudolph’s grandson, Richard, that we are able to share his story. Richard has transcribed Rudolph’s 1916 diary and generously shared a copy of his transcription and photographs of Rudolph with the National Trust.