Dunham Massey

The weather has been glorious the past few days, so yesterday we took advantage of a sunny Sunday and went out for the day. We chose to visit Dunham Massey, a place we have not been before. As part of the WWI centenary commemorations some of the rooms are currently transformed back to how they would have looked when Dunham Massey served as a military hospital between 1917 and 1919.

Sanctuary from the Trenches – Stamford Hospital at Dunham Massey Hall

We’re marking the centenary of the First World War by telling the story of the Stamford Hospital, the convalescent hospital in the hall in which 282 soldiers were treated between April 1917 and January 1919.

So how will your visit be different this year?

Well, the elegant Edwardian interiors have gone. In 1917 the Saloon was turned into a ward with 25 beds for ill and injured ‘other ranks’ soldiers – the Stamford Hospital was for Tommies, not officers. In the ward discover the story of some of the soldiers, their injuries and illnesses and how their conditions were treated almost 100 years ago.

The large space in the Great Hall became the soldiers’ recreation room, where they spent time out of bed, had their meals, played games and listened to music. Photographs also show the soldiers out of doors in the inner courtyard and garden, benefiting from the ‘fresh air cure’ whatever the temperature! You’ll find out about how the soldiers spent their time during convalescence, and perhaps enjoy a game of cards yourself.

The billiard room was the nurses’ station, and here you’ll find out about the group of women who cared for the soldiers. The social changes brought about by the First World War impacted on the Grey family of Dunham Massey – Lady Jane became a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse aged 17 and helped in the hospital. You’ll discover an aspect of her story at the bottom of the grand staircase, the area that was used as the operating theatre.

Family life went on at Dunham but would never be the same again. Head upstairs to find out about Lady Stamford’s role as the commandant of the hospital. A prolific letter writer, much of what we know of the hospital comes from her correspondence with her family, soldiers and soldiers’ families.

What’s happened to the objects that have moved?

During the First World War, the Great Gallery was used as a storeroom and that’s what we’re using it for too. Some objects have gone into store and some for conservation. One of the biggest things to plan was the picture-hang, where we rearranged lots of the paintings to fit in the ones that had moved from the Great Hall and Saloon. Some objects were selected for the ‘Treasures from the Collection’ exhibition allowing individual pieces to shine whilst also showing the eclectic nature of a country house collection.

After we had visited the reconstructed Stamford hospital we took a walk round the garden.  The newly planted rose garden was a delight and we were treated to a rare display of cardiocrinum gigantium.

To see this giant lily is a rare sight as it flowers for barely a week and only once in a lifetime.

The cardiocrinum grows very slowly for the first six years of its life. In its seventh year it quickly escalates to a height of up to 3.5 metres before producing a spectacular display of flowers for a short period in June.  It then dies, leaving behind brown seed pods.

The plant is found in parts of China, Burma and the Himalayas. This is one of the largest plantings in the United Kingdom.*

Cardiocrinum Gigantium

Cardiocrinum Gigantium

We arrived home late so we decided to go out for a meal rather than cook.  We chose with care so that we could still enjoy a Sunday roast, after which we returned home to enjoy the last of the sunshine sitting on the patio with a glass of wine.

As the light dimmed I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye. Thinking it was a bird I turned to look and realised it was a hedghog making its way along the side of our neighbours house. Then he disappeared into our flower bed noisily snuffled and crunching leaves as he made his way around the three sides of our garden borders. He then casually sauntered across the grass in front of the patio where we were sitting before disappeared back down the side of our house. Nature is a wonderful thing :-)

It was the first time I have seen a hedgehog for a very long. After doing a bit of research I realise why.  They are now an endangered species.

*From a sign board next to the plants

10 Comments CherryPie on Jun 23rd 2014

10 Responses to “An Unexpected Visitor”

  1. rusty duck says:

    I once tried to grow Cardiocrinum, unsuccessfully. The display at Dunham Massey is fantastic!

    • CherryPie says:

      I had not heard of the flower until I saw it yesterday. It is a wonderful display and I feel privileged to have seen it in flower.

  2. ubermouth says:

    Did they let you take photographs inside?

    I would have loved to have seen that. Where do you find all these places to visit?

    Once the lilies have bloomed do they dig them up?

    • CherryPie says:

      Inside photography is allowed but I didn’t take any. The place was busy and they would have just been happy snaps rather than decent photos.

      I don’t know what the do with the lilies after they have bloomed but I expect they collect and use the seeds.

  3. wiggia says:

    You can purchase (at a premium) Cardiocrinum bulbs that are at or near flowering size, and once they die down, (they do die after flowering) planlets and off shoots are left, the only problem is they in turn take the seven years to come to fruition.
    So if you really want them in your garden you have to be very patient or bite the bullet and pay.
    There are other Lilies that will give you as much pleasure in different ways with much less hassle.
    Sorry to go on, but many Lillies do require specific growing conditions without which they often just fade away and many of the species are very susceptible to botrytis and the therefore the source you get them from is important.

    • CherryPie says:

      Fascinating, thank you :-) I had never heard of Cardiocrinum before. I don’t think I will be introducing them into my garden. I like low maintenance, easy to maintain. I have at long last got around to treating my garden to a little TLC and it is begining to take shape again.

  4. Barbara says:

    Memories of our visit there.

  5. Wow, I have not seen this type of lily before!