Candles and flour in case of strikes

Phyllis Vansittart Neale recovered from the flu and lived another 40 years. Meanwhile industrial unrest was increasing.

4 February 1919

I off by 9.3 to London. Walked to Hyde Park Corner across park. Found P[hyllis] looking white, but temp. down. Had walked across room. All other patients have “flu” – return of the complaint. Took my lunch & sat with her till ¼ to 2, then bus to EVN….

Still tube strike & others!! Londoners getting in candles against electricians’ strike. Told to have flour if bakers strike!!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)


A Lawson Tait bed

The doctors recommended a special bed to aid in Phyllis Vansittart Neale’s recovery from influenza.

30 December 1918

Left Lawn for EVN’s flat. Luggage ready by 11 o’clock.

Called at Hospital. Found Mr Edmunds very full of “Lawson Tait” bed & mattress. So H & I took Johnson to flat & went on to Mortimer St. Heard it had to come from Birmingham.

Went Hospital & lunch at Lawn.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

“This mysterious illness has been rife”

The influenza epidemic puzzled many people. Phyllis Vansittart Neale’s case, which we have been following in detail, was worse, and now her mother was ill with the stress.

The Influenza

This mysterious illness has been rife in the parish, though not so bad as in the towns. All our three schools, and the Infant School, have been closed at one time or another, and, as can be seen by the unusually long list of burials, there have been a sad number of deaths.

19 December 1918

Phyllis very ill.

I kept in bed all day by Dr Belfrage – nearly fainted. Edith went down to hospital for me. Ag went in afternoon and did not get back till 6.30. Felt dreadfully nervous. Said I must go to Hospital, sleep there. P. too ill for me to be away. Got up & dressed, went in officers’ taxi to Victoria, then tram. P. not to know. Kind Matron & night nurse.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1918 (D/EX725/4); Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Wretched and tense

Phyllis Vansittart Neale suffered a relapse.

18 December 1918

Rang up early, heard good night & better. Half an hour later they rang up & said she was worse. I rushed off in motor. Found she had rigor, another patch pneumonia – temp: up. Stayed till 5. They wanted to get her ready for night so I left. Edith gone to B[ear] P[lace] so I alone at flat. Felt wretched & tense, most painful.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Bright and well

Both her parents visited the recovering Phyllis Vansittart Neale.

17 December 1918

Henry & I went up to London by 9.45 to see Phyllis. He quite pleased she seemed bright & well. He left soon to home later. I stayed on most of the day. She tired I thought. I slept at E[dith]’s flat.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Germans being pushed back with great slaughter

A group of ladies from the Maidenhead area shared a car to a meeting about getting women working on the land.

25 April 1917

We all to Maidenhead after early lunch en route for Reading. Helen motored H Moule, EVN [Edith Vansittart Neale], E[dith] Frere & I to Women’s Agricultural Meeting, & Bessie Sturges met us. Good meeting. Women spoke well. Recruits came in!

Germans being pushed back with great slaughter.

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

Whist with the Wargrave wounded

Florence Vansittart Neale and her sister in law Edith went to visit the wounded and play cards with them.

30 September 1916

E & I off 2 o’clock to Bear Place for whist drive with Wargrave wounded. Won a handkerchief….

Fresh move on. Took Le Gars.

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

Supporting Serbian children

Representatives from both Upstairs and Dowsntairs at Bisham Abbey alike attended a concert in aid of children in wartorn Serbia.

5 January 1916

Henry, Edith & maids to Stubbings entertainment for Servian [sic] children…

Worked at bed socks for War Voluntary workers.

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

Over to Cliveden to see the hospital

The Vansittart Neales got a guided tour of the Red Cross hospital at Cliveden.

19 October 1915

H[enry] to London. C[onstance], E[dith] & I motored him to Maidenhead, & we on to Cliveden to see Hospital. Very interesting. Met our friend the Maori & Rutherford.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/317/8)

Mother sends secret brandy to soldier son

Three of the Belgians at Bisham Abbey got an outing on 19 February.

19 February 1915
Edie took 3 men, Jean, Dominique, Jules, to Reading in the motor.

Heard Captain Long Innes men drunk (Irish Guards). At last discovered mother sent brandy inside a cake. Man had mild punishment – wrote stinger to mother. She prays for his soul, wishes to injure his body.

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

A nice Highland Colonel shows the Vansittart Neales around Aldershot

The Vansittart Neale ladies of Bisham Abbey had an outing to see an army camp, at Aldershot.

27 October 1914
I, Edith & Bubs went to Aldershot. Found 33 camp at Rushmoor after some difficulty. Very nice Colonel Scott & Captain Macgregor, Gordon Highlanders, showed us all. Pipe Major exhibited the pipes & drums.

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

10,000 more Belgians

Yet more Belgians fled their homeland. Florence Vansittart Neale’s sister-in-law Edith and her friend Edith Frere made immediate efforts to raise money for them.

15 October 1914
EVN & Edie’s jumble sale for Belgians…
Believe Allies well holding their own. Charlie corps under Lord K. 10,000 more Belgians come over. We taken Ypres.

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

Not what we had meant it to be: a wartime birthday

Elizabeth “Bubbles” Vansittart Neale, the younger daughter and co-heiress of the owners of Bisham Abbey, celebrated her 21st birthday on 16 August. Her elder sister Phyllis had had a big party for her own 21st a few years later, but the national crisis of the war meant Bubbles was deprived of the same experience. Her mother Florence recorded the day, along with her continuing anxiety over war news:

16 August 1914
Bubs’ 21st birthday. Not what we had meant it to be. She liked her presents. We gave pendant, Phyllis a long gold chain, brooches from [illegible, possibly her maternal grandparents], & fur coat from Aunt E & some others.

No more definite news. Spies taken. Belgium still keeping Germans in check. France coming up. Our army we do not know! All silence. Red X lecture by Sister Brooks from Windsor. BP party came over. Ken promised commission.

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