From Mistress to Matron

(Sarah) Julia Warde-Aldam

Sarah Julia Warde, known as Julia, was born in 1858 in Carlton and lived in the family home of Hooton Pagnell Hall. After her marriage to William Wright Aldam in 1878, Julia lived between Hooton Pagnell and her husband’s estate at Frickley Hall. During the First World War, Julia opened Hooton Pagnell as a hospital for wounded soldiers. She was in charge of the running of the hospital in her role as commandant, but also served as a matron and a general administrator for the hospital. Hundreds of soldiers passed through the Hall to receive treatment and recover from their injuries, and Julia stayed in touch with many of them when they returned to the Front. Julia was awarded an MBE in 1918 in recognition of her services at the Hall during the First World War. Julia died in 1931 and is buried in Hooton Pagnell churchyard.

Winifred Ruth Binnie

Winifred Ruth Binnie was born in East Lothian, Scotland in late 1890. She went by her middle name, Ruth, and was part of a large farming family. Ruth began working as a nurse at Hooton Pagnell Hall in September 1915 and remained there throughout the War. From October 1916, Ruth was solely responsible for driving and caring for the hospital’s motor car. Her brother Arthur Drybrough Binnie died in October 1918 while serving with the RAF. Ruth died, unmarried, in June 1944 in Edinburgh.

Lady Isabella and Annie Middleton

Isabella Georgiana Katherine Cecil was born in 1853 at Burghley House, near Stamford, Lincolnshire. Isabella married William Henry Thomas in 1884 and when William inherited Cusworth Hall in 1891 they took the name Battie-Wrightson. During the First World War, Lady Isabella converted a house into a hospital in Wothorpe, Lincolnshire, close to Burghley House. As well as her hospital, 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 Lady Isabella ran a stall selling fruit, vegetables and flowers to raise funds close by. A later fete organised by Lady Isabella raised £420, the equivalent to over £20,000 today.

Lady Isabella died from pneumonia in October 1917. The hospital closed in the same month but reopened in January 1918. Throughout the War, Lady Isabella’s hospital, equipped with 14 beds, treated 80 soldiers.

Annie Middleton

Annie Middleton was a nurse who had cared for Lady Isabella’s children Robert and Barbara at Cusworth Hall and was a close companion of the family. Annie accompanied Isabella and served as the matron of the hospital at Wothorpe.

Sophia Flora Skipwith

Sophia Flora Cooke-Yarborough, known as Flora, was born in 1854 in London. She married Grey Townsend Skipwith, an officer in the Royal Engineers, in 1887. Grey died in 1901 in India and Flora brought up her children at Loversal Hall, later known as Loversall Hall. When war broke out in 1914, Flora ran a rest hut on the platform at Doncaster station for the use of wounded soldiers passing through the town. In December 1914, she opened Loversal Hall as a hospital for wounded soldiers and served as the commandant of the hospital. Within the house and in additional ward buildings, she provided 100 beds for wounded soldiers with the help of a team of volunteer nurses. Flora lost her son, Granville Arthur Skipwith, to the conflict. Granville served with the Royal Field Artillery and was killed in action in June 1915. Flora was awarded an OBE in recognition of her contribution to the war effort through the hospital. She died in 1940.