Attic treasure at Scotney Castle sheds light on life during the First World War

A black metal trunk reveals its treasures found inside

A dusty black metal trunk hidden in the corner of the attic of Scotney Castle in Kent sat undisturbed for years. In 2011 a team of eight volunteers in the midst of cataloguing the vast collection, started the process of bringing to life Brigadier General Arthur Hussey simply by turning a key.

Family life

Little was known about Arthur Hussey, a career soldier and one of six children of Edward Hussey III. Passers-by comment on his small portrait hanging in the study today but knew little about his character until now.

Treasures uncovered

Tumbling out from inside the trunk were 11 First World War diaries sharing Arthur's experiences on the western front between 1914-19. Other finds included letters home to his sister Gertrude, medals, photos and secret war maps giving an insight into the day to day reality of a senior officer.

A first read of Arthur's diaries allows an insider's glimpse into his thoughts and feelings, sharing his personal opinions on orders received from HQ, the first use of gas and how it felt to lose his friends.

As he sets out for France on 9 October 1914, now in his mid fifties Arthur writes "Received our orders to leave today in the Teviot, but we found she would not hold all our motor lorries, so we put our 57 horses and men on her, officers, lorries and wireless and airborne sections of the Communication Company on board the 'Moorgate'. Left finally about 3am"

Discover for yourself

In the winter of 2015 Arthur's life was depicted in a dedicated exhibition called Arthur's War, which showcased documents that gave a unique insight into a man’s experiences of war.