Inside Normanhurst and Christmas 1915

This is a transcription of a report from the Bexhill Chronicle in January 1916 which details a war time Christmas at Normanhurst and provides a fascinating insight into Normanhurst’s time as a hospital.

Lady Idena Hythe and Her Work

On the 15th June the covered lawn tennis court at Normanhurst was opened as a Hospital with 60 beds; thirty patients being admitted on the first day. In a fortnight this number had increased to 57, and since then the average number of patients has been 30.

The tennis court is divided by wooden screens into two spacious wards of 30 beds each, and a small operating theatre has been erected just outside with a covered passage connecting it with the wards. The adjoining buildings are used for patients dining and recreation rooms, nurses quarters, quarter-master’s stores, ward kitchen, etc., and an open-air camp kitchen is also constantly in use.

The Hospital is lighted throughout by electricity, and hot water apparatus has recently been installed throughout the wards in place of the stoves which were used during the summer.

The staff consists of Commandant (Lady Idena Hythe), Resident Medical Officer (Mr Norman Ticehurst, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, [F.R.C.S.]), Matron (Mrs Norman Ticehurst), Quartermaster, three trained nurses, and a number of V.A.D. members.
The Medical Officer is assisted By Dr. G. Kendall, Surgeon, and by Mr A.R. Ticehurst as consulting surgeon.

A competent masseuse, (Miss Dowsing), is kept very busily employed, and her services have contributed in a great degree to the improvement of the surgical cases.

The Linen Department is most ably managed by Mrs Smithe, Commandant of the Battle Detachment, and her members, who have also assisted in the wards, as have also the members of Whatlington, Robertsbridge and Westfield Detachments.

Open Air Treatment

During the Summer a great feature was made of open-air treatment, all the cot cases possible being wheeled out on to the veranda and to an open-air shelter. Several patients also slept in the open air at night, and noticeably benefited by this course.
For the more convalescent patients a number of open-air competitions were arranged – croquet, bowls, clock golf, etc., being played on the lawns, from which a fine view of the sea can be obtained. The excellent combination of sea and country air has been found most beneficial in many cases, both surgical and medical.

With the approach of winter, whist and draughts competitions, weekly concerts and other indoor amusements took the place of open-air games.

A great deal of hospitality has been extended to patients by friends in the neighbourhood, and they have also been asked to some very enjoyable entertainments at Bexhill and Hastings, which have been thoroughly appreciated.

The following donations have also been received: Battle Ladies Hockey Club (per Miss M. Newbery) 13s; Mrs Church and guests (ninth donation) 11s; Miss E, Newberry, 10s; Catsfield Schoolchildren (per Mr Bleach) 10s.

Several entertainments have been given in the Hospital during the week. On Monday Miss Myddelton, Miss Joan Egerton, and Master Ralph Egerton gave an amusing sketch entitled “A Brown Paper Parcel” and Miss Raper and others sang. On Tuesday there was a bioscope entertainment. On Thursday Mr W. W. Starmer, F.R.A.M., brought a concert party over, and gave a delightful evening’s amusement; and on Friday the Misses Somerville gave a sketch entitled, “Chatterboxes” and Mr Newport gave a magic lantern exhibition.

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