THE impact of World War II on one of Yorkshire’s great country houses, Brodsworth Hall, will be explored in a series of events throughout 2013, which will see the story of the building, the Grant-Dalton family who lived there and the residents of the Brodsworth estate retold 70 years on.
“During the Second World War, Brodsworth Hall was requisitioned for use by the army, but it was not only the army’s occupation of the house that affected Brodsworth – men from the estate were called up into the army, or served in the Home Guard if they were farming, a ‘reserved occupation’.
“A workforce comprised largely of women were left to manage the house and gardens, whilst the indomitable mistress of the house, Sylvia Grant-Dalton, led a valiant effort to support the troops overseas with a host of schemes and initiatives to galvanise local people into getting involved in the war effort,” commented property manager, Paul Robson.
“We’ll be remembering all these different aspects of Brodsworth at War through a new exhibition in the Hall itself, and an array of events in the gardens.”
Indeed, the events throughout the year condense the five years of World War II into a season, from an event marking the requisitioning of Brodsworth taking place over the May Day bank holiday weekend (4-6 May 2013) to a 1940s fete over the weekend of 22 & 23 of June, recreating one of Sylvia’s fundraising events featuring traditional stalls and a coconut shy! Whilst 1940s songstresses, the Spitfire Girls, serenade the crowds, a full size replica Spitfire will take pride of place on the lawn at the front of the house!
Young recruits will be put through their paces by a recruiting sergeant alongside members of the 9 Army Group Royal Artillery as Brodsworth Hall demonstrates ‘Training for D-Day’ on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 August, with an impressive 5.5” gun transported to the site on a Matador gun tractor especially for the occasion.
Over the May half term week, all eyes return to the Home Front, recreating Brodsworth’s very own version of the Dad’s Army-favourites with the help of Pontefract Home Guard re-enactors. Visitors will learn some of the tricks of the wartime make-do-and-mend culture, which was heartily embraced by the Grant-Daltons, meet the local ARP wardens and even learn about how some clever individuals managed to beat the rationing and put some extra meat on the dinner table by employing the clever skills of the master falconer!
Complementing the war-time re-enactments will be Brodsworth Hall’s usual series of summer Sunday Afternoon Band Concerts, featuring many of South Yorkshire’s top brass bands, running every Sunday from 14 July until 29 September on the South Terrace. Visitors on Saturdays in July, August and September (on weekend when there are no wartime events) will be able to enjoy Victorian Garden Games, including skittles and quoits, on the front lawn.
Brodsworth Hall’s wartime events programme is part of “Duty Calls: Brodsworth Hall in Time of War,” a project which has been generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is also part of a wider initiative of the Yorkshire Country House Partnership, ‘Duty Calls: The Country House in Time of War”, a series of exhibitions and activities exploring the impact of war on the country house and its communities, on show throughout Yorkshire in 2013 and 2014.
Brodsworth’s project has involved gathering of oral testimony from the local community, and the exhibition at the hall. Visitors will be able to find out more about how the household and estate faced the challenges of war, including sharing the house with the army and the evacuation of children from Leeds to the village to keep them safe from air raids and attacks. Several recordings of people’s memories from this time can be listened to throughout the house. The exhibition also looks at the experiences of Brodsworth and its community in the First World War, and events are being planned for 2014.
For more information, please visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/brodsworth or call 01302 722598.