WWI hospital at Abbey Manor (exhibition at the Almonry)
A recent visitor to the Almonry Museum special exhibition, marking the contribution of the Evesham area to the welfare of troops returning from the battlefields of the “Great War”, later to be known as World War 1, were Mr & Mrs Phipps, who are residents of Abbey Manor the former residence of the Rudge Family. They are still significant landowners in the Evesham area, including the site of the former Evesham Abbey.
Mr & Mrs Phipps are the current residents of the west wing of Abbey Manor. The Manor is to be found high on a hill to the west of the town near to the site of the Battle of Evesham and the grounds have an obelisk to commemorate the battle, which can be glimpsed from the Worcester Road.
In 1914 the Rudge family opened their home to become a hospital and convalescent centre for wounded soldiers. Mrs Florence Haynes-Rudge and her daughter, along with many local residents helped to ferry the wounded to the Manor, working under the auspices of the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachments), which was an important auxiliary nursing service during WW1. Initially there had been five wards, but as the War progressed and the numbers of wounded men increased, more facilities were needed, and the Inner Hall became medical ward, followed by tents outside for mess room and further accommodation.
During the span of the war years, 1915-1919, Abbey Manor and Chadbury House cared for 3612 patients, many of them severely wounded, yet it was recorded that not one patient died – a remarkable achievement. For her contribution to the war effort, Florence was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). King George V presented the award at Buckingham Palace in March 1919.
The Almonry Museum special exhibition marked these achievements and also that of the Rudge family, in opening their home up to the good of the war effort, and wounded soldiers, and for people, of all generations, to be reminded of the sacrifices and the efforts made by so many people. The exhibition is also available to view in the Riverside Shopping Centre.
The Society would like to acknowledge the display material reproduced by kind permission of Barrie Baldelli and the Cotswold & Vale Magazine with many thanks also to the Rudge Family for archive material.