Monthly Archives: August 2020

A budding romance – August 1918

Teresa Hulton (1890-1972)

Teresa spent some of August 1918 in Asolo, the town where she was born on the 6th of August 1890. Her father, William Hulton, wrote to her: ‘so glad that the trip panned out well and that among other things you visited your ‘burgo natale.’ I wonder whether you were able to spot the house- which is a little apart from the entrance on the N. E. side in a garden of its own.’

Attingham © National Trust Photo Library

William Hulton’s painting ‘View of Asolo‘ dated 1894 is in the Attingham collection

Teresa found time to attend the 23rd Division horse show in August 1918.

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An eager crowd of spectators at the horse show

Her future husband, Lord Berwick, also attended and found it ‘very animated and we were asked to stay for a sort of dinner party and soirée afterwards. I met several cheerful friendly people, but they pained me by asking how I had learnt to speak English so nicely! However it was amusing.’ He, Teresa and Mrs Watkins had dinner together before Lord Berwick departed for England for a time. Teresa’s letters are addressed to him at the Carlton Club.

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Teresa’s invitation to the 23rd Division Horse Show

It seems likely that Teresa and Lord Berwick met through Louis Dease, Lord Berwick’s Land Agent, who met the Hulton family when he visited Venice in 1909.

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Teresa’s sister Gioconda photographed with two friends in Milan in August 1918

Lord Berwick corresponded with Dease about plans to travel to Venice around 1910. Lord Berwick had a love of tasteful French and Italian decoration, doubtless fostered by the beautiful interiors of Attingham Hall and Cronkhill. He was searching for information about contemporary Italian illustrators and probably followed up Dease’s earlier contact with William and Costanza Hulton because they were well connected to contemporary artistic circles in Italy.

The first recorded meeting between Thomas and Teresa was noted in Teresa’s diary on 18th October 1913. She went to Eden Garden where she ‘met Lord Berwick, a quaint young man.’ The relationship between Teresa and Lord Berwick was cemented by December 1918 when Lord Berwick wrote to Teresa telling her: ‘I left Venice very much in love with you.’

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A display featuring Teresa’s original wedding mittens and wreath alongside a recreation bouquet made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the wedding in June 2019

Lady Berwick wrote a note with the courtship correspondence between herself and Lord Berwick that she collected together after his death to say that in April 1919: ‘Tom came with me to Florence. I do not remember where he stayed or what we did while he was there, but he and I decided that we would like to be married as soon as he could leave the Army and get things arranged in England. We suggested to my Mother that we should be married this summer. She was at that time suffering from Graves disease, and in a very miserable condition, and worried about future plans as she wanted to get back to our house in Venice as soon as possible and father rather dreaded the prospect. However she soon agreed that we could manage it, and she and father and Gio were all happy about it as they liked Tom so much.’ They were married in June 1919.

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A photograph taken on Teresa’s wedding day. Left to right: Gioconda (Teresa’s sister), Reggie Bridgeman (best man), Canon Knollys, Teresa, Lord Berwick.

Teresa enjoyed finding time for swimming in summer. Swimsuits were made of cotton jersey or wool which must have been heavy in the water. Sport was promoted to women doing war work to keep them healthy in mind and body.

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Teresa and a friend swimming at Grado. Both  ladies wear dark coloured bathing costumes with white piping around the collars and hems.

Although Teresa found some time away from her nursing duties, by the 23rd of August she writes from Istrana, telling Lord Berwick:

‘Mrs Watkins has not settled definitely about the convalescent hospital on Lake Garda yet. I should be sorry if nothing came of it, but the British Red Cross are behaving in their usual shilly shallying way and she cannot undertake a 200 bed place entirely with her own funds. Still, the thing has gone so far now that we should cut a poor figure if we backed out entirely, so I feel certain she will manage something. Our work here goes on very regularly, between 200 and 300 men come through the clearing station every day, sometimes more. Very few wounded now, but many cases of fever – I have heard it spoken of as Spanish flu. We lead a rough sort of life and do our own housework, etc., but as long as one is feeling well it is all right.’

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Teresa is seated besides a group of soldiers and Mrs Watkins (in the white hat with a black hat band) in this August 1918 photograph

From August to September 1918 the Battle of San Matteo was fought at the highest elevation of any fight in the war. Although the Italians at first had the advantage, the battle was won by the Austro-Hungarians. It was the last victory that they would have during World War One.

On August the 25th Mrs Watkins wrote to Teresa, telling her: ‘we have not yet moved into our new house here – & the present one is crawling with people + working uncomfortably. Miss Steward is a dear but she thinks one fat Italian woman can do everything – even carry up luggage. How I hate people getting the last ounce out of servants.’

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Mrs Watkins and a seated man, possibly her son George (c) Hamish Scott

Mrs Watkins’s lot was not helped by the fact that some of her team were unwell. Mrs Gordon-Watson was ill and was convalescing in hospital. Miss Trelawny and a maid were ill with flu and Mrs Watkins had to make coffee for 600 people by herself as they were too unwell to help.

 

Lord Berwick (1877-1947)

In August 1918 the War Office moved Lord Berwick from Verona back to Paris. He received the movement order on the 23rd of August. The telegram from the War Office informed him that Lord Derby had recalled him to the Embassy in Paris.

The London Gazette announced on the 13th of August 1918 that Lord Berwick was to be seconded from the Shropshire Yeomanry.

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The memorial to the 8th Lord and Lady Berwick in Attingham’s deer park

In her notes for the Memorial inscription for Lord Berwick, Teresa wrote:

Tom’s most obvious characteristics were I suppose his genuine modesty and gentleness, the true courtesy and kindness which enabled him to overcome his timidity.

‘Side by side with this, there was a strong strain of recklessness and extravagance a rather childish adventurousness, (one example of this was his wanting to marry me even though he hardly knew me).

‘Then that quality of independence & courage…’

 

Attingham

In a dispute about work not being done on the estate, including repairs to the glass houses, Attingham’s tenant Mr Van Bergen states that he is no longer making arrangements to feed the deer in the park. He issues Lord Berwick with an ultimatum – the deer will be destroyed unless Lord Berwick arranges to feed them himself. Fortunately Lord Berwick made arrangements for the estate workers to feed the deer and photographs show that he enjoyed feeding himself after the Van Bergens gave up their tenancy of Attingham.

Lord Berwick towards the later part of his life in the 1940s feeding his beloved deer

People in Shropshire could read news of many battles being fought in August, largely with victorious outcomes for the Allies.

French and American troops began a steady push against the Germans along the southern part of the Western Front. Fighting continued until the 15th of October. At the Battle of the Canal du Nord allied troops in France, depicted in this photograph in the Imperial War Museum Collection, began an assault on the German Hindenburg Line. Allied troops successfully broke through the Hindenburg Line at the Battle of the St Quentin Canal.

Photographed in front of a destroyed bridge, a horse team pull a field gun during the Battle of the Canal du Nord (c) Imperial War Museum IWM Q 9347

At the Battle of Amiens beginning on the 8th of August the British, Australians, Canadians and French launched a powerful attack on the German army. Fighting was continuous until November the 11th. The 8th of August was called by General Ludendorff the ‘Black Day of the German Army,’ as the Germans were beaten back seven miles in the Somme and many prisoners were taken.