Dunham Massey Hall is situated in a beautiful deer park 2 miles from our office and in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. In 1917 during the First World War it was volunteered to the Red Cross by Lady Stamford and was converted to Stamford Military Hospital. Her daughter, Lady Jane Grey, trained as a nurse and helped the hundreds of soldiers who passed through the house – 282 in total.
The hall has been transformed for an exhibition called “Sanctuary from the Trenches”. It’s a fascinating insight into what life would have been like for both the soldiers and those who dedicated their time to look after them.
One of the most thought-provoking displays is the makeshift operating theatre under the great stairs, chosen because of its close proximity to the billiards room where there was a toilet. The soldier who was operated on was Private William Johnstone and he arrived with two pieces of shrapnel in his brain. Lady Jane Grey assisted the doctor who drilled through his skull and successfully removed the first piece of shrapnel but he sadly died in Manchester Royal infirmary before the second piece could be removed.
It is unbelievable to think that brain surgery actually took place in this unlikely location…