MERSEA: Mersea V.A.D. Hospital


The book ‘Colchester War Memorial Souvenir, The Great War 1914-1918’ (Printed/Published by The Essex Telegraph 1923) documented the fact that “there were many branch Red Cross Hospitals in the area” but only noted the following, along with their Commandants:- Ardleigh: Miss Mounsey; Mersea: Mrs. Egerton Green and Mrs. Pierrepont Edwards; Stanway: Mr. L. L. Griffin, Miss S. M. Round, Mrs. Symmons & Mrs. Weller; Wivenhoe: Mrs. Barlow.

The aforementioned is the only reference found for a V.A.D. Hospital at Mersea.  No volunteer service cards for the Mersea V.A.D. Hospital have been discovered on the British Red Cross online search facility.  This evidence may suggest that the Hospital was never operational.

However, thirteen women living on the island have been found working at the ‘Gostwycke’ Hospital in Colchester.  One of the thirteen is Mrs. Pierrepont Edwards, one of two named above as Commandants of the Mersea V.A.D. Hospital.

Mr. Tony Millatt provided an insight into Mersea at the time.  Perhaps an existing nursing home was used?  One was ‘Fairhaven House’ in Seaview Avenue, on the corner of Osborne Road (now called ‘Aldeburgh House’).  The property was built around 1906, as a Nursing Home – it was sometimes advertised as ‘Mrs. Weaver’s Home of Rest’.   It seems to have been used as both a nursing home and a normal guest house over the years.   However, in 1916, a small advert in a local newspaper suggests that it was being run as a guest house alone – thus, not a candidate for a V.A.D. hospital at that point in time.

There were Army personnel based on Mersea Island during the First World War.  Soldiers may have been in billets or requisitioned houses. Additionally, the Army requisitioned East Mersea Golf Course and Club House and some of them probably lived there – perhaps this was where ‘Mersea Hospital’ was situated?

Mersea had a number of fairly large houses (often owned by people who also had homes in London) and one of these could have been used as a hospital or convalescent home.

On 13 April 1916, Mesdames M. Egerton Green, B. Carey, C. Pierrepont Edwards, etc were appointed to West Mersea Town Council Technical Education Committee.

A memorial cross, in honour of Mersea Islanders who have given their lives for their country during the great war, was unveiled on Saturday by Mrs Horace Egerton Green, by whose generosity it was erected, and dedicated by the Bishop of Colchester.  The ceremony was held on the greensward at West Mersea, in front of the village Church.

CAREY, Bertha Hedwig (nee Gubba): she is included here because she was on the West Mersea Town Council Technical Education Committee, alongside “Mesdames” M. Egerton Green and C. Pierrepont Edwards – the latter two being named as Commandants of the Mersea V.A.D. Hospital. Perhaps Bertha was involved with the Mersea V.A.D. Hospital in some way too?

Born 6 May 1948 France. Daughter of Prussia-born Commercial Agent (of Timber and Corn) Alexander Ludwig Gubba and his London-born wife Emily (nee Urquhart). Baptised 26 July 1853 at Le Havre, France (with Gubba siblings James Gottlieb; Christine; and Letitia Augusta).

1851 Census:      10 Highbury Grove Villas, Islington.  With parents; three sisters; two brothers; a Scottish cousin of father or mother; an Islington-born visitor; and two servants. All children, bar one, born in France.

1861 Census:      India?

1871, 13 Nov:     Married Walter Nowell Carey of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, in Madras, India.  Walter Nowell Carey was born 27 February 1840 Ingouville, Haute-Normandie. British Subject by parentage.

1872, 1 Dec:        Son Walter Louis John Carey born in Madras, India; baptized 11 January 1873 Bangalore, Madras, India.

1874:                     Daughter Emily Annetta born Madras, India; baptised 3 June 1874 Fort St George, Madras, India; buried 28 January 1875.

1877, 22 Aug:     Son Charles Horace Lemarchant born Madras, India; baptised 29 November 1877 Bangalore, Madras, India.

1879, 3 Jan:         Son William Reginald Carey born Madras, India; baptised 6 March 1879 Bangalore, Madras, India.

1880, 7 Mar:       Son Edward Nowell born India; died 8 August 1881 India.

1881:                     Walter retired and took up coffee planting in the Nilgherry Hills, Madras, India.

1901 Census:      18 Upper Woburn Place, St. Pancras, London. With retired Lieut. Col. husband: “Boarders”.

1911 Census:      Shamrock House, High Street, West Mersea. With retired “Lt. Col. H.M. Forces, R.S.F.” husband.

1912, 28 Nov:     Husband Walter died – death registered in the Lexden District.

1929, 21 Nov:     Bertha Hedwig Carey probate entry text [sic]: “of Windermere West Hersea near Colchester widow died 21 November 1929 at Burwood Wadhurst Surrey”.

PIERREPONT EDWARDS, Mrs. Nancy (nee Annie Hay Cook) = Mrs. Charles Pierrepont Edwards.

(V.A.D. Commandant. Also worked at ‘Gostwycke’, Colchester as Acting Quartermaster. Night Duty. Awarded Red Cross Medal in 1922.  On the West Mersea Town Council Technical Education Comm.)

Born 1868 Manningtree, Essex (birth registered 4Q Tendring District, Essex).  Daughter of Scottish parents Surgeon & General Medical Practitioner John Will Cook and his wife Jane Anderson Grant.

1871 Census:      High Street, Manningtree.  With parents, 3 siblings and 4 servants.

1881 Census:      High Street, Manningtree.   With parents; a sister; a Medical Assistant; a Medical Student; and four Domestic Servants.

1891 Census:      Renfrew, Renfrewshire.  Visiting with Donald Aunt & Uncle and cousin.

1893 Census:      Married Charles Pierrepont Edwards.    Vicar of St. Peter & St. Paul Parish Church 1898-1946.  Nicknamed ‘Old Spiery’, a book was written about him called ‘Old Spiery – Mersea’s Fighting Parson’ by Mary R. Stevens.  When the First World War broke out, Charles became an Army chaplain – he was awarded the Military Cross for his efforts in rescuing the wounded at Gallipoli.

1901 Census:      Ray Mead (area), West Mersea, Essex.  With husband; and one servant.

1911 Census:      St. Peter’s Cottage, West Mersea, Essex.   With husband (“Clerk in Holy Orders”); and one servant.

1916, 13.04:        Appointed to West Mersea Town Council Technical Education Committee.

1922:                  “Nancy Pierrepont Edwards” awarded the British Red Cross Medal at Colchester Town Hall.

ADDRESS: St Peters Cottage. West Mersea.; SERVICE FROM: 23/11/1914; SERVICE TO: 06/06/1918; PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENT: none; RANK AT ENGAGEMENT: Commandant; DATE OF ENGAGEMENT: 23/11/1914; PAY AT ENGAGEMENT: none; RANK AT TERMINATION: Commandant; DATE OF TERMINATION: 06/06/1918; PAY AT TERMINATION: none; PARTICULARS OF DUTIES: Chiefly night Duty & acting Quarter Master for short time; WHOLE OR PART TIME: 893; ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Lexden & Winstree Division, Miss Round. Gostwycke V.A.D. Hospital Colchester; COMMISSION: Essex.

1953, 28 Apr:      Died at Prested Hall Nursing Home, Feering, Essex.

EGERTON-GREEN, Mrs. Mary nee Grimston = Mrs. Horace George Egerton-Green: she is included here, because she is probably the Mrs. Egerton-Green who is noted as Commandant of the Mersea V.A.D. Hospital.  (On the West Mersea Town Council Technical Education Committee).

Born 1849 Wakes Colne, Essex.  Daughter of the St. Albans-born The Reverend Hon. Francis Sylvester Grimston and his wife Katharine Georgina  (nee Morier.  British Subject, born in Dresden, Saxony).

Her paternal grand-father was the 10th Lord Forrester of Corstorphine, 4th Viscount Grimston, 1st Earl of Verulam.

1851 Census:      Wakes Colne Rectory. With parents, brother & 2 Morier Aunts.  Plus 8 servants.

1861 Census:      Wakes Colne Rectory. With parents, 5 siblings.  Plus 8 servants.

1871 Census:      ?

1881 Census:      125 Cromwell Road, Kensington.  Lodging with her sister Margaret – at the home of

William L. Dudley (Physician; M.D.; F.R.C.S.) and his wife.   Plus 3 servants.

1891 Census:      ?

1899:                     Married Horace George Egerton-Green (Banker; J.P. Colchester Mayor 1896/97.  Uncle to Claude Egerton-Green: see below for Egerton-Green family losses during First World War.

1901 Census:      Kingsford, Colchester, Essex.  With Banker husband; and 11 servants.

1911 Census:      35 Eccleston Square, Westminister.  Widow.   Plus 8 servants.

EGERTON-GREEN, Mrs. Alice Helen = Mrs. Claude Egerton-Green:  she is included here, just in case she is the Mrs. Egerton-Green who is noted as Commandant of the Mersea V.A.D. Hospital.

Alice Helen (nee Coope)  Born 1865 in South Weald, Essex.  Daughter of Leytonstone-born Brewer/Landowner Octavius Edward Coope and his wife Emily Mary (nee Fulcher).  Sister of Mrs. Ruggles-Brise, Spains Hall, Finchingfield.

1871 Census:      1 Upper Brook Street, Westminster. Aged “5”.  With parents, siblings plus 18 (eighteen) servants incl. 2 Governess’.

1881 Census:      ?

1887:                     Married Claude Egerton-Green (Banker. Alderman. JP. Mayor of Colchester 1894/1895 & 1900/1901).

1891 Census:      Wivenhoe Hall, Wivenhoe.   With husband & 2 daughters plus 8 servants.

1901 Census:      East Hill House, Colchester.   With husband, 2 daughters & 2 sons plus 8 servants.

1911 Census:      Broad Mead, Woolton Hill, Newbury.  Widow.  With 1 daughter & 1 son plus 3 servants.

Friday 19 October 1917, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

“Capt. J. W. Egerton-Green, Rifle Brig., died on Oct. 9 in a Boulogne hospital, after amputation of a leg following wounds, was son of the late Ald. Claud Egerton-Green, of Colchester, and of Mrs. Egerton-Green, of Woolton Hill, Newbury.  He was admitted to hospital with severe gunshot wound in the thigh on Oct. 6.  In pre-war days he frequently played for the Colchester and East Essex Cricket Club.  Captain Egerton-Green, who was educated at Eton and Oxford, was an officer of the Essex Yeomanry at the outbreak of the war, and bore part in the famous charge after which Col. Denoon was missing.  For some time afterwards he held a staff appointment, but returned to the Rifle Brigade.  Mrs. Claude Egeton-Green has now lost two sons in the war.  Her second son, Charles Egerton-Green, was killed while serving with the K.R.R.C.  She is the daughter of Mr. O. E. Coope, and sister of Mrs. Ruggles-Brise, of Spains Hall, Finchingfield, who has three sons serving.”

Friday 14 July 1916, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:

“Lt. Charles Scroop Egerton-Green, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, who was killed on July 1, aged 20, was the youngest son of the late Mr. Claude Egerton-Green, of Colchester, and Mrs. Egerton-Green, of Broadmead, Wootton Hill, Newbury.  He was killed quite instantaneously in a German trench which the British had taken, and he and other gallant riflemen were buried just behind the German front line, as the fire was too heavy to attempt to take their bodies back to the cemetery.  Mrs. Egerton-Green’s eldest son is in hospital having a second operation, and both her daughters are working in hospitals.”

 Friday 14 July 1916, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]

COLCHESTER OFFICERS KILLED.  An official telegram received at Colchester on Friday morning announced the deaths in action on July 1 of Lieut. Cheshire, eldest son of Cr. and Mrs. Wm. Cheshire, of St. Botolph’s Street and Meyrick Crescent, Colchester.  The gallant young officer, who was 27 years of age, was educated at the Royal Grammar School, and was a find all-round athlete.

Sec.-Lieut. Ronald Horwood, of Colchester, is also reported killed in the same action.  He was the son of Mr. H. F. Horwood, of 26 High Street, Colchester.

Lieut. Charles Scroop Egeton-Green, of the K.R.R., aged 20, youngest son of the late M. Claude Egerton-Green (a former Mayor of Colchester) and Mrs. Egerton-Green, was also killed in action on July 1.”

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