Nice cheerful lads

Another group of wounded soldiers visited Bisham Abbey.

3 December 1917

Wounded came in afternoon. Very nice cheerful lads. Same programme. They left about 7 o’clock.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

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A useless horse

28 November 1917

Man came to fetch chestnuts. Horse from Government useless….

Wire from Boy [their son in law Leo Paget] to say Paris leave on from 10th to 16th.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Filling sacks with chestnuts for munitions

Short of gardening staff thanks to the war, the Vansittart Neales collected chestnuts like Berkshire’s children.

26 November 1917
Henry & I cut down ivy on wall by dining room & under staircase. All filled sacks with chestnuts for munitions. 29 sacks!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Soldiers dig allotments

The drive to maximise food production continued, while there was a change in leadership of the British Expeditionary Force in Italy.

24 November 1917

Soldiers came to dig allotments….

Herbert Plumer in command in Italy.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Russia governed by Leninites!!

As the gardens of Bisham Abbey were ploughed up, Florence Vansittart Neale continued to be appalled by the news from Russia.

20 November 1917

Have ploughman & horses sent us to plough up Long Walk & Moors into arable (15 acres in all)….

Russia governed by Leninites!! We & Allies have nothing to do with it – propose Armistice of all powers!!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

To Ireland at an hour’s notice

The continuing unrest in Ireland affected some of the Vansittart Neales’ friends.

17 November 1917

Fred turned up for weekend. Fear of Ireland stopped his former leave. Hear Ken went off to Limerick at an hour’s notice.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Ploughing new ground

Lawns and other land not normally ploughed was turned to growing crops for food during the war. Meanwhile, the news from Russia seemed to be better, although this was a false dawn.

14 November 1917

Ploughman & horse coming to plough up new ground (15 acres), more this year…

Russia better. Kerensky, Korniloff & Kaledin beaten rebels.

Allenby in Holy land very good.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Many without legs

A group of wounded servicemen, many of them now permanently disabled, visited Bisham Abbey.

5 November 1917
Wounded arrived about 3 o’clock. Many without legs. Went round house – tea – games. E & I played whist with O’Connor & Puncher – such nice men. Left about 7. Edie came to help as usual.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Ploughing up a lawn

The pressure was on to maximise the country’s food supply by ensuring unused land was sown with crops. Florence Vansittart Neale was distraught at the thought of losing part of the glorious lawn at Bisham Abbey, which was technically a field but had not been used as such for generations.

3 November 1917
Hear they want all Long Walk Field to be ploughed up!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A brave bride

New bride Elizabeth Paget (nee Vansittart Neale) had to say goodbye as her husband’s leave was up.

2 November 1917

Bubs & E. down by 4.50. Boy [bridegroom Leo Paget] gone that morning. Our poor dear bride very good & brave but must feel it dull…

Italians still retreating.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Broken up

The Hallams had sad news of an Australian soldier they had befriended.

William Hallam
31st October 1917

This morning at Breakfast time we heard from Gordon Inglis one of those Tasmanians who used to come in to see us. He tells us Don Blackwell, one of the others, was killed at ½ past 10 at night on the 17th in Polygon Wood. We were all very much cut up at this news. He was such a fine fellow. The girls especially broken up.

Florence Vansittart Neale
31 October 1917

Busy preparing for the whist drive. Had about 165 in two rooms….

Bad raid in London. Not much damage, only 3 got through! But most of people up 3 hours.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25) and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A nice set of soldiers

Another group of wounded soldiers came for an afternoon at Bisham Abbey.

22 October 1917

Wounded came about 2.45. Left 6.30. Round house. Tea & whist. Quite a nice set.

More push on, French too.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A pretty wedding at Bisham

Nurse Elizabeth Vansittart Neale, co-heiress of Bisham Abbey, had enjoyed a wartime romance with 27 year old officer Leo Paget, and today was their wedding day – at Bisham Church. Mother Florence’s diary entry was brief:

20 October 1917

Bubs’ wedding day.

However, she went into more detail in another book she kept.

20th October 1917
Elizabeth married Capt Leo Paget – Rifle Brigade. Wedding took place in Bisham Church – very pretty – good music with Dr. Bath at organ & Marlow choir boys to reinforce ours.

Over 60 guests at luncheon, almost all relations.

Bridal pair repaired [?] to Reading to Malets Cottage at Norcot–Lynton [?].

Young Paget came over on leave from the front in France – he arrived the day before the wedding- he had 2 weeks leave (4 days extra for marriage).

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); Bisham estate memorandum book (D/EX73/1/8/2, p. 222)

A lovely afternoon

It was non-stop action at Bisham Abbey, as one party of guests left just as a group of wounded officers arrived for the afternoon. Meanwhile an attempted coup in revolutionary Russia by the head of the armed forces was making the international headlines.

10 September 1917

Canadians left quite early, 7.55…

Played croquet till lunch. Rested after till the 16 wounded arrived.

Lovely afternoon – played bowls. Others went on river. Went about 7.

Kerensky orders Korniloff to give up being C. in C.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Canadians at Bisham

The Canadian officers staying at Bisham Abbey gave their hosts a chance for a quiet night.

7 September 1917

The Canadians to friends in Marlow for afternoon & evening.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)