Harald Peake was born in October 1899 in Doncaster. Educated at Eton and later at Trinity College, Cambridge, he served with the Coldstream Guards towards the ends of the war and later served in the R.F.A., and Yorkshire Dragoons Yeomanry. Harald had a great interest in aviation, becoming Air Commodore in the R.A.F. He married twice, for the first time in 1933 and for the second time in 1952. His second wife, Felicity Hyde Watts, served with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during WWII and achieved seniority, pushing the cause of women’s involvement in the war effort. Harald held a variety of important business appointments, working as the managing director of Denaby and Cadeby Main Collieries and later as a director of Rolls Royce and Chairman of Lloyds Bank. Harald was knighted in 1973 and died in 1978.
Osbert Peake was born in Doncaster in 1897. Like his brother Raymond, Osbert was educated at Eton and later at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Osbert was wounded at the Battle of Cambrai, but survived the war. He remained in the military, becoming a Major in the Sherwood Rangers. Osbert graduated from Christ Church College, Oxford University in 1921 and soon after he married Lady Joan Rachel de Vere Cappell, the daughter of the 7th Earl of Essex in June 1922 in London. Osbert went on to have a long and successful political career, serving under Winston Churchill during his second run as Prime Minister between 1951 and 1955. Osbert died in 1966, in Northallerton, Yorkshire.
Raymond Peake was born 1896 in London. Educated at Eton, Raymond later attended Sandhurt Mliitary College and joined the Coldstream Guards at the end of his education.
During the First World War, he served as a Lieutenant in the 1st Company of the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards.
While serving, Raymond shared a joint mess with Redvers Lionel Bewicke-Copley of Sprotbrough Hall as he was commanding No.1 company and Redvers was commanding No 2. Redvers described him as; “He seems to be quite a nice fellow.. one of the friendliest I have seen for some time (Like father like son!)”.
After being invalided home suffering from illness in later 1915, Raymond rejoined his regiment in July 1916. Just two months later, Raymond was wounded and never recovered, dying on the 30th of September. He’s buried in the Grove Town Cemetery, France.
Edward Frederick Lindley Wood was born in April 1881 in Devon. Although Edward was the youngest of four brothers, each of them died in childhood and he became the sole heir to the family’s Viscount Halifax title. Edward was educated at Eton and later Oxford University. Edward had entered the world of politics and stood for Parliament as the Conservative candidate for Ripon in 1910. He married Lady Dorothy Onslow in September 1909. Edward served as a Captain in the Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons. His involvement with the regiment during the First World War resulted in him rarely appearing at Parliament during this time, but he was a determined supporter of the introduction of conscription (compulsory military service.) He experienced his first front line fighting in 1916 and was mentioned in despatches the following year. He returned to Britain to work as a deputy director in the Ministry of National Service in late 1917 and remained there until the end of the war. Edward’s wife Dorothy nursed at Temple Newsam, another of the family’s houses, when it was converted into a military hospital. After the First World War, Edward continued his political career, serving as the Viceroy of India, administering British rule in the country and also as Foreign Secretary in the early years of the Second World War. Edward died in December 1959 in Garrowby, Yorkshire.
Robert Godfrey Bewicke-Copley was born in May 1893 and resided with the family at Sprotbrough Hall. In 1911 he was studying with a private tutor in Norfolk. On the outbreak of the First World War, Robert originally enlisted with the Canadian overseas expeditionary force. He later served with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, attached to the Machine Gun Corps. During the war he was wounded and mentioned in despatches and served in France, Balkans and Russia. Robert survived the war and married Freda Cripps in 1925 in Gloucestershire. He died in 1966 in Leicestershire.
Redvers Bewicke-Copley was born September 1890 in London. He was educated at Eton and later joined the Army. In 1911, he was living in Windsor Barracks and serving as an officer in the Coldstream Guards.
As soon as the First World War broke out, Redvers went to the Western Front. In a letter home to his sister, he mentioned that he shared a joint mess with Raymond Peake, who lived at Bawtry Hall. Raymond was commanding No.1 company and Redvers was commanding No.2. Redvers said of Raymond “He seems to be quite a nice fellow.. one of the friendliest I have seen for some time (Like father like son!)” During the Battle of Aisne, in which Redvers fought, his brother-in-law Foljambe was killed in action. While helping a wounded comrade in October 1914, Redvers received a severe wound through his collarbone and clavicle. He was eventually discharged from hospital in January 1915 and following an operation to remove plates from his clavicle, he began his recovery. When applying for a wound gratuity he stated ‘I have been without the proper use of my right arm since October last’. In July 1915 he was promoted to Captain, but by November of 1915 Redvers was still at Sprotbrough Hall and suffering with his wound.
In May 1916, Redvers received a medical inspection and was told he’d soon be recovered and by June was declared fit for service. Just six months later, on 21 December 1916, Redvers was killed in action. He was helping his men fix wires close to the German trenches and was killed by a stray bullet in the early hours of the morning. His personal effects returned were a silver watch with leather guard (damaged), silver match box, silver chain with 3 keys attached, leather covered cigarette case and a photograph. His estate was estimated in his will as worth £800 16s 11d, and was settled with his father Robert Calverley Allington Bewicke-Copley, brigadier general H.M. Army.
Dorothy Albreda Bewicke-Copley was born in 1891 in Sprotbrough, Doncaster. While her brothers were serving at the Front, Albreda was also contributing to the war effort at home. Albreda served at Loversall Hall auxiliary hospital first in the pantry, then on the wards under the supervision of Mrs Skipwith, the hospital commandant and head of the Hall. She married in London in 1926 and died in Surrey in 1987.
Thomas Carrington was born in 1888 in London. The son of a domestic groom and coachman, Thomas’ family moved around during his childhood. Thomas followed his father’s lead and became a chauffeur himself, taking up the role at Cusworth Hall. He lived with Leslie Jinks and Alfred Cooke in the grounds of the Hall. He married Bertha Booker in Doncaster in 1914. During the First World War it’s likely he served with the Army Service Corps, alongside Robert Cecil Battie Wrightson. He died in Doncaster in December 1943.
Robert Cecil Battie-Wrightson was born in August 1888. Robert’s father William passed away when he was fifteen, and his mother Isabella temporarily controlled the estate until 1909 when he turned twenty-one.
Lady Isabella bought Robert a commission in the 5th Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry as a Lieutenant after Lady Isabella bought him a commission, on the outbreak of war he did not rejoin his regiment. Robert did not follow his mother’s lead into society life. In March 1914, he married the widowed daughter of the owner of the Elephant Hotel, Doncaster.
During the First World War, Robert served as a Private with the Army Service Corps under the number M2/193605, suggesting he was involved with mechanical transport. The ASC was responsible for provision of equipment, transportation and food to the army. It kept the wheels of war turning. It was unusual for a man of Robert’s status and wealth to serve not as an officer, but as a Private. It’s unclear why Robert chose this path but it could have been to do with his lack of formal education, or a desire to separate himself from the expectation that comes with a well-known and affluent family.
Robert survived the war and lived at Cusworth Hall until he died in 1952, when the Hall passed to his sister, Barbara.
Isabella Georgiana Katherine Cecil was born in 1853 in Rutland, England. Her father, William Alleyne Cecil, was the 3rd Marquess of Exeter. Following her marriage to William Henry in 1884, she became Lady Isabella Battie-Wrightson and moved to Cusworth in 1891 when William inherited the Hall. Following William’s death in 1903, Isabella managed the Hall and estates along with other houses and lands around the borough on behalf of her son Robert Cecil Battie-Wrightson.
During the First World War, Lady Isabella converted a house into a hospital in Wothorpe, Lincolnshire, close to the Cecil family home, Burghley House. The hospital was known as ‘Lady Isabella Battie-Wrightson’s Convalescent Home for Wounded Soldiers’. Annie Middleton, a nurse who had cared for Lady Isabella’s children Robert and Barbara at Cusworth Hall accompanied Isabella in her convalescent home venture and served as the Matron of the hospital.
As well as her hospital venture, Lady Isabella also used her organisational skills to fundraise for the Red Cross Society in Stamford. The Mayoress of Stamford put on an exhibition of war relics, and close by Lady Isabella ran a stall selling fruit, vegetables and flowers to raise funds. A later fete organised by Lady Isabella raised £420 alone! Lady Isabella passed away from pneumonia in October 1917. The hospital closed in the same month but reopened in January 1918. Throughout the course of the war, Lady Isabella’s hospital, equipped with 14 beds, treated 80 soldiers.