Karin Von Degenerberg had tea and cakes with local resident Mrs McDonald on 8th November2009. Here are her memories she'd like to share with us
Mrs McDonald recently celebrated her 90th Birthday and has lived at Horsmarling farm at Standish for some 50 Years. Her husband was the farm manager at the farm. Mrs McDonald is well known to the local community and is a wonderful cake and jam maker. The WI could not do without her produce at their market stalls.
Mrs McDonald not only talked about life at the hospital but also told me about village life and described the vibrant community activities. There was a junior church school for children up to the age of 11, served by two teachers. Standish also had two pubs, one in Oxlynch, now long gone and “The Malthouse” which according to Mrs McD was closed by the vicar as he did not approve of the pubs activities. I wonder what these could have been?
Mrs McDonald spoke with affection about the hospital and how she regretted it being closed. She described the many functions and jollies such as Halloween and the valentine’s dance, she remembers the placards and posters. Mrs McDonald mentioned the annual fair, and that a lot of locals had stalls to raise money for the league of friends. Apparently the hydro-pool was entirely financed by fundraising. It was well used and she is sad that it is no longer available.
Another highlight was the harvest festival a grand and joyful event, where local farmers played a big role. Local traders were of great importance as Standish had its own kitchen, cooks and ground staff.
She said that the Matron was the lynch-pin of the whole establishment and commanded great respect, presiding over loyal and long serving staff.
Mrs McD went “into service” at the age of 14
50th wedding anniversary
now aged 90 at her kitchen table with her famous local jams.
I would like to thank Mrs Mc Donald for giving me her valuable time, and I am enjoying her cakes and jam!!
Karin v Degenberg
We have received this lovely and detailed account from Sheila Dickers who has been researching her family tree. We'd love to add more memories here so please have a think and let us know of any stories you have to tell.
The King family and Standish House – up to and including the First World War
William King was a Shipping Merchant in Bristol and when he died, the company was taken over and run by his 2 sons – Richard and Ron. They traded under the name R & W King Ltd of Radcliffe Wharf, Bristol and had a fleet of 20 ships averaging 200 tons each.
In the early days, the company traded or bartered with West African natives – using coloured cloth, beads and even fire arms to acquire ivory, rubber, palm oil, gold dust and wood. Their main trade was in palm oil and kernels and, in bad weather, some trips could last for18 months.
It was at this time that Anne (Annie) Liddon married Richard King and they lived at Kensington House, Brislington, Bristol. (Anne’s brother was Henry Parry Liddon – a renowned Church of England orator who in 1870 was appointed Canon of St Pauls Cathedral.)
Richard was Lord Mayor of Bristol from 1844 to 1845. Such was the respect in which he was held that on his death - aged 74 - on the 26th September 1874 all flags in Bristol flew at half-mast.
Annie and her family remained at Kensington House for 10 years after Richard’s death. However she felt that the countryside was being eaten away as Bristol grew and so she sold up. Standish House was originally built as a hunting lodge and was owned by Lord Sherborne. Annie discovered it was empty and rented it on a 21-year lease for £150 per annum.
Richard and Annie had five children – Sarah, Mary, Alice, Louisa and Thomas. Sarah married before they moved to Standish; Mary loved gardening and was involved with the Red Cross; Alice loved fishing and riding; Louisa was not always in good health but did travel to Egypt; and finally Thomas, who enjoyed travelling, racing, hunting and spending money! He took over the family business when Richard died but his mother Annie kept a tight rein on the finances.
The remaining family lived at Standish until 1897 and, when the business started to suffer because of the Boer War, Annie felt it was time to move again. They rented Newark Park and took all their staff with them – building a wing onto the house for their accommodation.
In 1913 Mary was the vice president of the Gloucester branch of the Red Cross under The Duchess of Beaufort. They both soon realised that if war broke out there would be a shortage of nurses and so they set up Red Cross units and started training staff.
When war did break out in 1914, Mary asked Lord Sherborne if she could use Standish House as a Red Cross hospital. He offered it rent-free and agreed to decorate and overhaul the interior.
On Easter Monday 1915, an Open Day was held to allow people to view the new hospital. Over 700 people attended and local help and support was encouraged.
Standish Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) Hospital opened on 13th May 1915. There were 100 beds and 8 fully trained nursing sisters. The remaining staff were all Red Cross volunteers from Stonehouse and surrounding areas.
The first intake of patients was 31 wounded soldiers – 14 of them being stretcher cases.
On the ground floor, there were 3 wards – Berkeley, Painswick and Dursley – and each had 27 beds. Soldiers in these wards were the most seriously injured and many were amputees.
On the second floor there were 8 smaller wards with a total of 60 beds. These soldiers had less severe injuries and some were convalescing before being transferred onwards.
The third floor housed the operating theatre and recovery ward.
Some of the staff slept in the attic and many of the nurses used The Coach House. Doctors were housed in The Lodge while a local farm was used by night staff who needed to sleep during the day.
In 1915 the average intake was 47 patients a day, rising in 1916 to 77 and again in 1917 to 115. The soldiers were transported by various means – St John’s ambulance, private cars and even the Stonehouse horse ambulance.
They were also subject to military discipline while they were in Standish and as such were expected to wear their uniform at all times.
As their conditions improved, the soldiers performed plays, created a shooting range and enjoyed outdoor activities with the staff.
The flags that flew over Standish House during the war are now in Standish Church.
On the 7th January 1918, Mary King was awarded the OBE for services to the Red Cross. She was Commandant at the Standish Hospital from 1915 – 1919 and during that time there were 2292 admissions – with only five deaths. There are three graves in Standish Church and one bears the inscription that the gravestone was paid for by staff and nurses.
Mary died on the 31st January 1923 and is buried in Ozleworth Church.
Standish Hospital continued to be used for many years.