Buckland Manor and Wormington Grange: War Nurseries during the Second World War and a Visit from Queen Mary

A War Nursery near Broadway is Founded

During the autumn of 1940, seven young children were removed from the dangers of living in war torn London to rural Buckland just outside Broadway. The evacuation and rehoming of the children was funded by the American Red Cross and the Surdna Foundation1 who had arranged for The Waifs and Strays Society (now The Church of England Children’s Society) to run a War Nursery2 at Buckland Manor.

In July 1940, Lady Ismay of nearby Wormington Grange3, whose husband, General Hastings Ismay was Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant, had taken in 30 London evacuees under the age of two. Children under five4 were difficult to place with families and Lady Ismay was approached by the Society’s secretary, Mr W.R. Vaughan, to find another suitable home for a small number of very young children.

At the time there were three Receiving Nurseries in London in which children under five were received for medical inspection, issue of clothing, etc., before being evacuated to the country to nurseries set up to specially cater for their needs.

Mr & Mrs Charles T. Scott of Buckland Manor offered their home to the Society and by November 1940, seven youngsters had taken up residence in a wing of the house under the care of Matron Miss Bride. Mrs Jane Scott (who became the Nursery’s Commandant) was often seen taking the children for a walk and her cook, Margaret ‘Bessie’ Andrews, prepared the children’s meals. Lady Victoria Forester, Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Mary, who lived at Furze Hill, Willersey, was also involved in the children’s welfare. Clothes and toys for the children were provided by the Women’s Voluntary Services both in London and Broadway, and additional children’s clothing from sewing parties held in the village.

Miss Bride told a reporter from The Evesham Journal that the children can “run just where they like” and although many arrived tearful and homesick they soon settled into life in the Cotswolds countryside. Miss Bride’s charges were all from London; Tony (the eldest), Maureen (the youngest, aged 20 months), Ernest, Eileen, David, Sailor and Ronald.

Buckland Manor c1944
Buckland Manor c1944

Queen Mary visits the War Nursery at Buckland Manor

By 1944, under Matron Miss Frank, the nursery at Buckland Manor had grown to be one of the largest in the area caring for 36 children5. Amongst the children, all aged under five, were children of Birmingham City transport workers as well as those with parents serving in HM Forces.

On Thursday 10th August 1944, Queen Mary paid an informal visit to Buckland Manor to see the children. The Queen was accompanied by Lady Constance Milnes Gaskell, Lady Victoria Forester and Major Forester, the local MP William Morrison and his wife Katharine Morrison, and Colonel George Mackie (County Director of the British Red Cross). The Queen stayed for half an hour and on leaving was presented with a bouquet of roses by two year old Gillian Adams from Birmingham.

The War Nursery at Buckland Manor closed down shortly after the end of the Second World War in late 1945/early 19466.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Notes:

  1. The Surdna Foundation was established as a charitable foundation in 1917 by the American John Emory Andrus to pursue a range of philanthropic purposes.
  2. The first War Nursery was set up in February 1940 at Dallington in Northamptonshire. By the end of 1940, 30 nurseries were in existence housing over a thousand babies and young children. After the United States of America entered the war in 1942, the Ministry of Health undertook full financial responsibility for the nurseries, the total number of which grew to 400.
  3. In November 1942, Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady of the United States ( 4 March 1933 – 12 April 1945) visited the War Nursery at Wormington Grange.
  4. Approximately 89%, of all under fives evacuated were sent from the London area, and by August, 1945, the Metropolitan Evacuation Panel had dealt with applications for over 60,000 children many of which were applying for temporary evacuation. 9,046 young children were evacuated through the London Receiving Nurseries.
  5. The War Nursery at Wormington Grange had also increased in size, caring for up to 60 children.
  6. The War Nurseries were gradually closed after the end of the war. However, some 10,000 children across all ages were unable to return home for various reasons and had to be cared for until homes could be found. The War Nursery at Wormington Grange closed in February 1946.

 

 

1724: Highwayman John Tawney Executed for Stage Coach Robbery in Broadway

Gloucester Castle keep: the old county gaol. Based on an 1819 work, from W. Andrew, ‘Old English Towns’, published 1909. Via Wikimedia Commons.

In August 1724, John Tawney, of Ampney Crucis, Gloucestershire, was executed in Over1 near Gloucester after being found guilty at the County Assizes of the charge of highway robbery on the London to Worcester coaching route above Broadway.

Born in Ampney Crucis to parents who were described as being “honest parents” who gave him “sufficient competency to begin the world with”, Tawney reportedly kept “wicked company”. Aged 30 at the time of his conviction, Tawney was married with four children.

At his trial in August 1724, Tawney admitted that he had in the previous two years been involved in several highway robberies including robbing 20 people going to Cirencester Fair. On the night he attacked the London Worcester Stage Coach, Tawney was accompanied by an accomplice called Stutley. Tawney admitted that they broke in to stables owned by Mr Lillington at Wotton-under-Edge to steal horses which they used to ride to the hill above Broadway where they attacked and robbed the occupants of the coach. Captain Bissel, who was on the coach, prevented Tawney and Stutley from making off with their bounty and they fled the scene.

Tawney was tracked down and was held at Gloucester Castle, which at the time served as the county gaol. Before Tawney was hanged at Over he was reported in the papers as  “being very sullen”. Before going to the gallows, Tawney allowed a Minister to pray with him and he was pressed by the Minister to reveal the whereabouts of his accomplice Stutley and another man he had mentioned during his trial but he refused to reveal their whereabouts.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

 

Notes:

  1. Prior to 1792, executions at Gloucester took place in the village of Over 2 miles from the city. The condemned were conveyed to the gallows in carts, sitting on their own coffins.

 

 

 

 

Next Meeting Monday 9th December: Hailes Abbey and the Mystery of the Holy Blood, a talk by David Haldred

Broadway History Society’s next meeting and talk will take place on Monday 9th December 2019, with a talk by David Haldred on Hailes Abbey and the Mystery of the Holy Blood.

Located between Toddington and Winchcombe, Hailes Abbey was founded in 1246 by the Earl of Cornwall, the second son of King John, and was once the centre of monastic life. In 1270 the Abbey received a holy relic believed to be a portion of the blood shed by Christ on the Cross. The Holy Blood of Christ transformed the monastery into one of the most important pilgrimage sites in medieval England but the relic was destroyed and the Abbey left in ruins when the Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. David’s talk will explore how the rise and fall of the Abbey was inextricably linked to its prized relic.

Non-members are welcome, £3 on the door. Refreshments will be served during the interval.

Hailes Abbey
By Saffron Blaze – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15096276

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society