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Tyringham House in WWI
Tyringham House

Following the outbreak of the First World War, by September 1914 Mr. Frederick Konig, as the owner of Tyringham House, had offered the Government the use of the new wing for about 40 sick and wounded soldiers.

However, with this offer having been accepted some time ago by the St. John Ambulance Association, Mrs. Konig had been informed that, since they had already made preparations for a considerable number of wounded, it was hoped to obviate the need for four months or so.

In fact for hospital use they could only accept premises on a much larger scale, but nevertheless they shortly afterwards asked if the accommodation could instead be used as a convalescent centre.

This was agreed, and in May 1915 Colonel Cree, as the representative of the Surgeon General of Southern Command, inspected the property in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Konig, and Dr. Wickham, from Newport Pagnell.

Thus by mid July 1915 Tyringham House had been taken over by the military authorities, and after the few days necessary to put the finishing touches to the fittings, as required to complete the equipment, the House was ready to accept 100 convalescent soldiers.

These would be those who had fallen victim to enteric fever, but only if their condition had sufficiently improved such that no threat was presented to the local district.

In fact the medical authorities would ensure that before being sent to Tyringham House the patients were completely rid of the ‘fever germs,’ with it being considered that the delightful surroundings of their new home, and the healthy air, would be conducive to their full recovery.

Having for some time been in the Addington Park War Hospital, Croydon, where they had been nursed back to convalescence, the first draft of patients arrived at Tyringham House on Monday afternoon, September 4th 1915, being 20 ‘bronzed and seasoned warriors’ who, including those from the King’s Own Royal Lancasters, the Norfolks, the Durhams, and Northumberland Fusiliers, had all seen action in Flanders and France. Travelling under the charge of Sergeant Major Guy King, of the 5th King’s Liverpool Regiment, they had arrived at Newport Pagnell by the 4.30p.m. train, and were taken to Tyringham in a fleet of motor cars supplied by Messrs. Salmons and Sons.

Officially known as the Military Convalescent Hospital under the Eastern Command, the medical facility, which comprised the whole of Tyringham House, came under the charge of Captain Norman W. Stevens, of the R.A.M.C., and whilst he had the use of a furnished suite of rooms, five other rooms were provided for his staff of six N.C.O.s and 18 men.

In fact Mr. Konig had not only fitted up a wing containing 32 beds, but had also ensured a modern system of electric light and a pure and ample supply of water, all of which was to be under the charge of his own employees.

Then in March 1916 the Military Authorities found it advisable, for the purpose of administrative convenience, to discontinue the hospital at Tyringham House, and, with arrangements consequently made to transfer the patients elsewhere, Mr. Konig was sent a letter of appreciation from the Director General of the Army Medical Service, thanking him for having generously placed the premises at the disposal of the military authorities. Including free seats at the Electra Cinema, Newport Pagnell, during their stay at Tyringham House the patients had been afforded much local entertainment to aid their recovery - to include sports, outings, concerts, and even a playet written by Mrs. Konig - and in fact all they lacked were the comforts of wine and women. However, even this a minority had sought to redress.

The complete story of Tyringham House during the First World War is told in the forthcoming book ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning,’ which, with this being very much an ‘upstairs, downstairs’ era, will also recount the story of other local country houses, to include Chicheley Hall and Lathbury Park, of the ‘Lathbury Gents’ fame.