A demonstration against raising the food prices

The rising prices of food were causing discontent at home.

William Hallam
1st October 1918

A sharp frost this morning the roofs of the houses quite white when I went to work at 6. We all came out at 4 to make a demonstration against raising the food prices. I came home- didn’t go up to Town Hall.

Florence Vansittart Neale
1 October 1918

After tea to Freres & Mrs Hester. Dicky short leave (one day!).

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

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Maidenhead meeting on Food Economy

Florence Vansittart Neale and a friend responded to the previous day’s sermon on food economy.

7 May 1917
Edith Frere & I to Maidenhead for meetings – Food Economy.

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

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)

Bisham Abbey becomes a hospital

The day of Bisham Abbey’s launch as a war hospital for Belgian soldiers dawned. Florence Vansittart Neale’s daughters Phyllis and Elizabeth (Bubbles or Bubs) were among the voluntary nurses.

4 December 1914
Heard no more of Belgians till 10 o’clock. Telegram saying 25 would arrive in afternoon! Tel: motors. Dr Norris & Mr Hill here, turned out dining room. Beds made up! Met 4.40, but arrived 9.30! Dr Downes here till 12 pm. Phyllis & May have Chintz Ward, Bubs & Lottie North. Maud Richardson & Johnson Middle. Gladys Frere & Edie F. Green. Mrs Jay & K. Tovers Hoby Ward! Pry & Browne night nurses. Miss Headington & Mr Hadfield.
Bisham Abbey become a Hospital for 25 Belgians, all with wounds.

Charlie’s furlough of 4 days over. He back to France.

Civilian William Hallam spared a thought for soldiers in wet weather:

4 December 1914

This dinner time I never remember a rougher wetter middle day than it was. In fact for some time now we have had nothing but rough wet weather. It must be awful for our poor soldiers.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8) and William Halalm (D/EX1415/22)

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)

“All my boys faint at the sight of blood”

Percy Spencer, who was himself thinking about which unit he should join, was concerned that idealistic brother Sydney might be unsuited to military life, and may be acting rashly. He wrote to their sister Florence (staying with their friend Mr Image in Cambridge) to share his views, and also let her know what their mother Anna had to say about the prospect of conscription:

27 Rattray Road
Brixton
Aug. 15.14
Dear Florrie

I enclose Will’s letter herewith.

It’s a pity, I think, that Sydney has offered himself so unreservedly, because of course he doesn’t know what he might have to endure in camp life. Moreover, I am doubtful that Sydney made his offer quite freely.

But whatever service he is accepted for (if any) will probably do his manhood some good, and I shall not grieve if he is taken for the most strenuous duties, but only hope he comes thro’ them with honour and safely.

[Section censored in later years by Florence]

Mother doesn’t wish any of us to go. She seems to have an idea that some of us might be pressganged, and she told me as I went away last Sunday that if the soldiers called, she should tell them that it was no use them coming as “all my boys faint at the sight of blood”.

I offered myself to the Queen’s Westminsters, and they wrote stating they are full up, but that I could put my name on the waiting list. Upon going up to do this I was further informed that 500 names were already on the list which had consequently been closed that day.

As all the London corps are similarly placed, there will be no more recruiting for the Territorials until the War Office drafts some of the corps abroad.

Of course there is the new army open, but I am not at present inclined for this, unless Sydney had muddled into it.

I am so glad the weather has improved. You will be having a fine time at Cambridge no doubt.
Will keeps in good spirits at present, but I’m rather dreading the time when nerves jangle and the familiar temperaments fall foul of one another. Before that happens, I hope the War will be over.
There’s a good deal of mild mafficking [sic] in London. People seem to think the war is won, or as good as won.

Give my love to Mr Image.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer of Cookham to his sister Florence (D/EZ177/7/3/4-5)

Meanwhile, at Bisham Abbey, another Florence (Mrs Vansittart Neale) was preparing her home for use as a hospital for wounded soldiers. Confusingly, she had a number of friends and relatives named Edith, including Edith Frere and Edith Wethered, and her sister in law Edith Vansittart Neale, so it is not quite clear who is being referred to.

15 August 1914
Edith & I up to London by 10.5. To hospital store place & bought lots of things for hospital. Maples for screens, dressings, etc. … Came down with masses of parcels. No war news. Heard English not to fight in this next battle, near Namur.

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