Doncaster’s historic hall goes back to the days of war

The exterior of Brodsworth Hall in July 1995
The exterior of Brodsworth Hall in July 1995

Historic Brodsworth Hall will step back in time 100 years this weekend to mark the outbreak of World War One.

The popular English Heritage property will recall the dark days of 1914-18 with a three-day commemoration of the conflict as part of a summer-long programme of events aimed at showcasing the hall’s history.

Visitors this Bank Holiday weekend can join the household to catch a glimpse of the changes afoot in 1914 as the British Army recruited to its ranks.

Many young men left their jobs at the Brodsworth house, gardens and estate to serve in the First World War – some never to return.

Among them was gardener John Smeaton, who joined the local regiment, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

A memorial plaque, or ‘Death Penny’ sent to his family after his death, together with a letter from King George V, have been lent to the exhibition this year.

Now the hall will stage three days of events from Saturday to mark the contribution made by the area’s servicemen.

A cast of actors together with re-enactment soldiers from the Manchester Regiment will be bringing stories of Brodsworth to life, together with drills, training, obstacle courses and a whole host of family friendly activities aimed at highlighting one of the most important periods in British history.

This weekend’s events are part of the ongoing Duty Calls exhibition at Brodsworth which kicked off last year with a host of World War Two events.

Caroline Carr-Whitworth, English Heritage curator, said: “We have discovered many moving and fascinating stories about the First World War, and through research into military records, estate archives and family histories, we have been able to learn so much more about what happened to the people who feature in many of the photographs that we have here at Brodsworth.”

“This year we are highlighting new stories through our events, including the way women’s lives and roles changed dramatically during this time, and we look forward to sharing these with our visitors.”

The events will take place from 11am to 5pm from Saturday to Monday.

Outbreak was beginning of the end for country home

The impact of both world wars was felt deeply throughout the country houses of Yorkshire with a lasting effect on them and their local communities.

Brodsworth was one such hall, with many workers conscripted after the outbreak of hostilities.

The impact on Brodsworth was such that the end of the conflict and the loss of life suffered by many people associated with the estate led to the beginning of the end for the hall.

Many rooms were closed off and fell into disuse and disrepair after the end of World War One. World War Two hastened the decline of the country hall even further.

The stories of those involved have been preserved for future generations.