The First World War at Lanhydrock

Tommy Aga-Robartes case as returned from the Front at Lanhydrock

The future seemed bright for Viscount Clifden and his family in spring 1914. His eldest son, Tommy, had a promising political career; Gerald, next in line, was employed at the Foreign Office; his other sons were flourishing at university and his daughters had high-society suitors on the horizon. But then came the First World War.

The family and their war work

The Viscount and his wife - Thomas Charles and his wife Mary were always involved in charitable work. For the duration of the war and beyond they carried out benevolent fundraising to support wounded soldiers at home and abroad.
 
Tommy, eldest son and heir - Charismatic politician Tommy was keen to see action at the front and transferred to the Coldstream Guards to ensure deployment to France. He came back from the battlefield to make an impassioned plea to encourage more men to enlist for active service before returning to fight in the fateful Battle of Loos.
 
Gerald, second son - Gerald Agar-Robartes was working for the Foreign Office when war broke out. He made repeated requests for leave to take part in active service at the front but was turned down because of the importance of his work in Britain.
 
Victor, machine gunner - Middle son Victor put his talent as a marksman to good use with the 1st Guards Brigade Machine Gun Company and the 4th Guards Machine Gun Company.
 
He fought at Loos, the Somme and Ypres, was wounded twice but returned to the front on recovery, and was awarded the Military Cross for courage in the battlefield.
 
Cecil and his tanks - Cecil Agar-Robartes had an interest in all things mechanical and a lifelong passion for cars. This interest naturally led him to serve in the 11th Battalion Tank Corps during the war, after a period with the 14th and 5th Rifle Brigades. 
 
He documented his time at the front with a series of photographs showing himself and fellow officers with the tanks which played such an important part in the conflict.
 
Alexander, youngest son - Despite his young age - he'd not even finished his studies at Oxford - Alexander was the first of the brothers to fight in France. He fought bravely at the Battles of Loos but was wounded in the jaw and sent home for rehabilitation during which time he wrote a series of poems.
 
He returned to fight at the Somme and Ypres and was awarded the Military Cross.
 
Older daughters - Their parents' charitable spirit ran through the Agar-Robartes girls and they all took part in fundraising events to help wounded servicemen and their families.
 
Constance, youngest daughter - Tommy's twin, Eva, spent much of 1915 at Kensington Pioneer Depot in London, sending medical supplies and other necessities to the wounded in hospitals at home and abroad. In January 1916 she set up the War Hospital Supply Depot at Bodmin, which she ran as director until February 1919. Her sister Violet was joint treasurer.
 
Constance wanted to do more to help the wounded and, early in the war, she undertook training to become a nurse.
 
Once the war was over, she felt she could not return to her previous high-society life, so continued in her chosen profession, setting up a nursing home which she managed until her untimely death.
 

The long shadow of the war

When you visit you'll find out more about how the First World War affected the fortunes of the Agar-Robartes family. Look out for:
  • Tommy's suitcase in his bedroom
  • our new exhibition of never-before-seen artefacts from the conflict
  • biographies of the brothers' battle service (in the museum)
  • details of the war's part in the family's decline