Home to the Molyneux family, the Earls of Sefton, Croxteth Hall was used as a convalescent hospital during WWI.
Lady Helena Mary Molyneux, Countess of Sefton, was involved in charity work during the war. She volunteered at VAD Headquarters and in a Belgian hospital in London and took part in first aid classes. Her diary entry from 9th March 1916 refers to a bandaging class. Her diary also makes reference to ‘War Bureau’, was this the Women’s War Service Bureau, prominent in Liverpool at this time?
Lady Helena records in her diary on 5th March 1916 that:
‘Dr.R. Jones for luncheon to inspect the house with a view for wounded soldiers’
Dr Robert Jones was a renowned Orthopedic Surgeon working at Alder Hey military hospital. He was using techniques in civilian hospitals to treat wounded soldiers.
On 14th March:
‘Colonel Coates of the Western Command came out to look at the house for himself. Some of it into an Auxilery Hospital’
It is not recorded which parts of the house were used for the hospital, but it is evident that conversion took some time as the diary entry for 24th May 1916 mentions ‘…Continuous Hospital preparations.’
On 9th June:
‘Our first batch of soldiers patients came in to the hospital – 12 from Alder Hey’
Wounded soldiers would have arrived at Croxteth Hall just nine days after Lady Helena and Lord Osbert would have learned of the death of their youngest son at the Battle of Jutland.
On 26th July:
‘At 1 heard from Sir J. Barr that 11 officers were being sent us from Fazakerley at 4. Busy afternoon. At 5 few arrived rather unexpectedly for a bed. Florrie telegraphed that Laddo was starting with a draft for Salonika tomorrow – so I took the midnight train (after seeing the patients comfortably settled in)…’
At Croxteth Lady Molyneux would prepare flowers for local hospitals including Mill Road and Highfield, and took an interest in the welfare of the wounded officers at the Hall, frequently taking them out around the estate and local area. Her diary for 24th June mentions her visit to Heswall Hospital: ‘…taking 2 soldiers across the river for their afternoon leave at Birkenhead.’
Wounded soldiers remained at the Hall until July 1919.
Osbert Cecil Molyneux, 6th Earl of Sefton was stationed in Cupar, Fife. The couple frequently travelled between Croxteth and Cupar to see each other.
This town was home to a recruiting office, YMCA entertainments, Hospitals and VAD. A Squadron Fife and Forfar Yeomanry had barracks in the town and E Company 7th Black Watch used the town as a base. In 1922 a War Memorial was unveiled by Field Marshall Haig.
On 16th December 1919 the Liverpool Courier published a supplement on ‘Liverpool’s Part in the War’. Their report on Croxteth Hall reads:
This hospital was equipped and financed by Lord and Lady Sefton. It was opened in May, 1916, and in July of that year the military authorities asked for it to be devoted exclusively to the service of officers. To this request Lord Sefton agreed, and as such it remained until the end of July last, when, it was finally closed. No fewer than 1,000 officers have passed through Croxteth Hall. Dr. W. Wilkins, of West Derby, was the medical officer in charge, having as his colleague, until her death, the late Dr. Mary Davies. The honorary physician was Dr. Macalister, the honorary surgeon Mr. G.P. Newbolt, and the anaesthetist Mr. Bennet Jones; whilst during the greater part of the time the hospital was in being Miss Grace Tilney acted as matron. Croxteth Hall was in many ways an ideal hospital. The principal wards opened on to a broad terrace, thus enabling many of the patients to obtain open-air treatment with great advantage, whilst exceptionally favourable opportunities for recreation were afforded to those who became convalescent by the various facilities for games which were available.