Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital at Bartley – Heathcote (later Beechwood) Hospital

Beechwood House c. 1914

Beechwood Hospital

On November 7th 1914, Colonel and Mrs. Heathcote kindly started a Red Cross Hospital in their house, “Beechwood”, Bartley, with 16 beds (the number of beds increased to 20 in 1915).

Mrs. Heathcote acted as Commandant of the Hospital, which was entirely run by V.A. Detachment Hants 26.

Dr. Gurney-Dixon was Medical Officer, whose services were voluntary.  The success in the treatment of nerve cases was very marked.

The Hospital was closed in Feb 1917, after treating a total of 102 cases.

Above text and images: Hampshire Record Office: 173A12/A1/2/1 and 173A12/A4/2/2/1 (transferred by the British Red Cross from the Balfour Museum of Red Cross History in Hampshire).

“Beechwood” and the Heathcote Family

In the late 1850s “Beechwood” became the home of Louisa Malcolm.  Louisa was the daughter of Evelyn John Shirley, M.P. and widow of Neill Malcolm, J.P., 13th of Poltalloch, whom she had married in 1843 (as his second wife) and who had died in 1857.  Her younger sister Selina, Dowager Lady Heathcote inherited the house from her in 1887.  Lady Heathcote lived there with her three unmarried daughters, from 1889 until her death in 1901; she employed the architect William Butterfield to make improvements both to the house and the parish church.

Selina’s son by her husband The Right Honourable Sir William Heathcote, Bart, P.C. (5th Baron of Hursley), inherited “Beechwood” from his mother: Charles George Heathcote was born at 43 Eaton Place, London, on 1 Oct 1843.  A graduate of Oriel College, Oxford (B.A. 1865, M.A. 1870), Charles married Lucy Lyttleton Vachell on 15 May 1884 at Hursley.  “Beechwood” became the Heathcote’s family home in 1901 when Charles and Lucy moved there from Hursley with their five children: one son and four daughters (their second daughter, Sybil Annesley, had died in 1898, aged 12).  Several members of Lucy’s family moved with them: Georgina Vachell, her mother; Horace Annesley Vachell—the author—her brother; and Lydia Vachell, her niece; in 1911 another brother, Guy Courtney Vachell, was also at “Beechwood”.

At the time of The Great War, Charles—a Justice of the Peace—was Major (retired) Northumberland Fusiliers, and formerly Lieut.-Colonel 1st Volunteer Battalion Hampshire Regiment.

The Heathcote’s son, George Malcolm Heathcote (a school teacher), was deemed to have enlisted in 1916 due to his civilian work with the British Red Cross.  As Officer Cadet, The Inns of Court Officers Training Corps he was gazetted to Reserve of Officers, 2/Lieut. Coldstream Guards on 5 February 1919.

Charles’ brother, Arthur Malcolm Heathcote, lost both his sons in the Great War: Lieut. James Shirley Heathcote, Coldstream Guards (d. 28 August 1917); 2/Lieut. Martin Arthur Heathcote M.C. (3 Jun 1916), Royal Fusiliers (d. 18 August 1916).  Horace Vachell lost his son too: Captain Richard Tanfield Vachell, Royal Flying Corps (and 1st Bn. Northumberland Fusiliers), d. 1 August 1915; his home address was “Beechwood”.

Charles died in 1924 and Lucy died ten years later.  The Heathcote family sold “Beechwood” in 1937.

For further information on V.A.D.s and Auxiliary Hospitals click on the British Red Cross in the Great War link.


Date: 1914

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