Ickworth and the Great War

Memorial to Thomas Crack

The Great War 1914 – 1918 affected communities in every town and village in the British Isles. The Ickworth Estate and the immediate local village of Horringer were no different. This year our staff and volunteers have been researching the effects of the War on the estate and the village. Our research show that 188 men from Horringer enlisted in the armed forces, 86 of these were men were employed at Ickworth and sadly, 39 men died as a result of the conflict including 17 of the estate’s men.

Investigating history
In 2015 an intriguing item was rediscovered in the Ickworth collection. It was a small metal disc with the inscription “Part of Zeppelin L 21 destroyed at Cuffley Sept 2 1916”. This was a memento from the first recorded destruction of a German airship over Britain. This disc was enough to get a group of staff and volunteers from the Ickworth Research Group to look further at the role Ickworth, and its people, played in the Great War. 
 
Over the course of the year the team set about researching the subject across the wider community- working with the local church, schools and other community groups, as well as delving into numerous archives. 
 
As the result of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we have been able to undertake further research and to create a walking trail through our park and exhibition to display our findings.
 
The Hervey Family
Frederick William Hervey, the 4th Marquess, was a retired admiral but didn’t see active service in the Great War. Frederick and his wife Theodora; both became involved in many different organisations which worked towards the war effort and both their daughters took up voluntary roles. Frederick’s younger brother Walter, who was 41 at the start of the war became a member of the Suffolk Imperial Yeomanry seeing action in France and receiving a long term injury. 
 
The House and Estate
The House at Ickworth wasn’t requisitioned by the military. However, the estate was used for training purposes including two firing ranges. As with the rest of the country, the estate and village suffered from the social and economic effects the war brought with it. The biggest everyday issue was the rationing of food.  On the  31st March 1916, the war was bought much closer to home. A Zeppelin bombed Bury St Edmunds, killing 7 people, before moving on to Sudbury, killing a further 5. 
 
Those who served
Each story uncovered provides a unique glimpse of the men behind the numbers. Below are a couple of our stories
 
The Ickworth Lodge (now part of the Ickworth Hotel) was lived in at the time of the Great War by Mr and Mrs Beckford-Bevan and their five sons and two daughters. Two of the sons joined the Royal Navy, three sons went into the army and one daughter was Red Cross Nurse. Only one of them didn’t come home. Clement was reported as missing in action on 20th July 1916 on the Somme. His body was never found and his name is listed with those of nine other Ickworth men, on the Theipval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in France.
 
William Rowles was a gardener at Ickworth for six years. He was known for writing on anything he could put his hand on which got him the name ‘Scribbling Billy’. William wrote gardening articles for local and national publications, amazingly he carried on doing this during his time at the Front. At the end of the war, William returned briefly to Ickworth to work in the Walled Garden. William’s later work remains in 1936 he designed the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds.
 
Peace
The Marquess of Bristol decided to honour the men from the estate who had served in the Forces. On 19 July 1919 a service was held in St. Leonard’s Church, before the 66 former officers and men marched up to the house to music played by the Horringer Brass Band. They then had dinner with the Marquess in the Entrance Hall of the house before attending the ‘Peace Celebrations’ in Ickworth Park.
 
The pamphlet produced by the Research Group is also available here.
If you have stories or more information you would like to share with us about Ickworth and the Great War, please email ickworth@nationaltrust.org.uk.
 
Further places of interest 
If you are interested in looking for more about the Ickworth and Horringer men then there are further places you can visit:
St Leonards Church just outside the Ickworth gate. It was here the service was held in 1919
Suffolk Regiment Museum in Bury St Edmunds is home to an interesting collection of items from the Suffolk’s history 
Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds – Once part of the Hervey estate, William Rowles designed the bedding plant display to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1936. 
St Edmundsbury Cathedral – See the stained glass window commemorating Clement Beckford Bevan.
St Mary’s Church – just up the road from the Cathedral, St Mary’s Church is home to the Suffolk & Royal Anglian Regiment Chapel.
 
How to investigate your own family history
The best place to start is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website which lists the names of all Commonwealth men who were killed. There is also a website created by the Imperial War Museum which records the lives of those involved
 
Other useful places to start are the National Archive, the Imperial War Museum and the Red Cross
 
The National Trust is not responsible for any external websites