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Tying up the story – After the war

In June 1920 the Hulton family were still repairing their house in Venice following the bomb damage during the First World War. They were short of funds to undertake all the repairs. Teresa visited Italy annually, returning to Venice in the spring to stay with her family.

In March 1921 Teresa was shocked by the sudden death of her father, William Stokes Hulton. She wrote on the 25th of March 1921 to Gioconda: ‘it is too sad we should none of us have known that poor father was really in such a shaky state.’

Teresa’s mother, Costanza, died in 1939. Costanza Hulton used to come to visit Teresa in England after her husband died and Teresa went to see her in Italy.

This photograph was taken at Cronkhill in 1921. Lady Berwick is bottom left, her sister is bottom right, their mother is top right and with them are two guests: Sir Reginald Tower, British diplomat and Alice Mary Bristowe, a friend from Italy. 

Tragically, Teresa’s sister Gioconda, who intended on coming to live with Teresa during the Second World War, died in 1940 when the motor bus that she was travelling in collided with a heavy goods vehicle. Gioconda was travelling from Cannes to Nice to arrange for repatriation before travelling to Britain to live with Teresa and Lord Berwick at Attingham. During the Second World War, Gioconda helped at a refugee canteen at Aix-les-Bains and her obituary praises the support that she gave to people in need.

Two booklets for the memorial services of Gioconda Hulton (1940) and Lord Berwick (1947)

Friends from Italy visited Teresa at Attingham, including Mrs Watkins who led the team of nurses that Teresa had helped in the war. In October 1920 Mrs Watkins was still working abroad. Her help attending to damage left by the war was much appreciated in Italy.

Mrs Marie Watkins (c) Hamish Scott

In June 1920, Teresa’s friend Lady Helen D’Abernon presented Teresa at court. Lord and Lady Berwick spent some time in London each year, Lady Berwick staying with her friends whilst Lord Berwick stayed at his club. In his memoir People and Places James Lees-Milne recounts meeting Lady Berwick at the house of Lady D’Abernon to discuss passing Attingham over to the National Trust. In London, Lord Berwick took his seat in the House of Lords to hear the debates which he eagerly followed in the newspapers. The couple enjoyed visiting galleries and art sale rooms and sometimes made purchases for Attingham.

Some catalogues for art exhibitions that Teresa and Lord Berwick attended in London.

Teresa made many new friends in Shropshire. After being gassed in the First World War, the Italian Commendator Tranquillo Sidoli came to Shropshire for medical treatment and to be with his sister. He founded a confectionery business in Shrewsbury and Teresa often visited. She enjoyed being able to speak in Italian to the Sidolis. Later, with the Second World War looming, Teresa swapped the Hulton palazzo in Venice that she and Gioconda had inherited for the Sidoli premises on Wyle Cop. This provided an ideal solution as Sidoli wanted to return to Italy, whilst it was difficult for Teresa and Gioconda to retain their family home in the face of Mussolini’s rising power.

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Teresa Hulton’s family home in Venice (c) Robin Fox

The Allies did not give Italy all the promised territories after the war. Post-war riots, lootings, rail strikes and the possibility of revolution helped to lead to the rise of Fascism in Italy. The Berwick’s relationship with Teresa’s uncle Luigi Villari was strained in the 1930s due to his support of Mussolini and Fascism. As one of Mussolini’s Aides, Luigi was imprisoned after Mussolini’s death. Fortunately, Teresa helped persuade the authorities to release Luigi.

Luigi Villari in military uniform on horseback, June 1916

The Hulton family had friends on both sides of the war following their temporary move to Germany in 1905, where Teresa trained to be a concert pianist. Although the Hultons appear to have given up contact with German friends during the war, for Christmas 1920 Gioconda accompanied Lady D’Abernon to Berlin. Lord Berwick wrote: ‘It must be very strange in Berlin, but I gather you do not see many Germans. I am sure it is a great thing that we are so well respected there.’

A photograph of Teresa on the steps of Attingham Hall, probably taken in 1920 for the early 1921 Country Life article about Attingham

Following her marriage, Lady Berwick brought her wartime letters and photographs to Attingham from Italy. She showed great attention to detail in neatly cutting slips in one of her photograph albums to hold wartime photographs. The result is beautiful, but must have been time-consuming to create. Whilst Lord Berwick discarded much of his wartime correspondence, the fact that Teresa took the trouble to preserve so many valuable records of her war work suggests that she recognised this period in her life not only as important to herself but, through bequeathing her documents to the National Trust, to posterity.

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The archive at Attingham where Teresa’s wartime letters and photographs were stored prior to being transferred to Shropshire Archives

After moving into Attingham Hall in 1921, Teresa lived there with her husband for around 26 years. Attingham was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1947 upon Lord Berwick’s death.

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Lord Berwick photographed with his dog in May 1946

Teresa lived another 25 years in the Hall, sharing the space with the small numbers of National Trust visitors and the Shropshire Adult Education College. Following a car accident at the front gates, Lady Berwick passed away in 1972. The Berwicks are remembered at the Berwick Memorial in the Deer Park and Lady Berwick is also remembered on the East Colonnade at the side of the house overlooking the river.

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A newspaper article detailing Lady Berwick’s tragic death in a car crash in 1972

Lord and Lady Berwick left a generous legacy to future generations. Their years of careful restoration and preservation at Attingham has led to its success and survival into the 21st century. Over a 100 years on from the First World War, many people enjoy visits to Attingham and to relax and to learn of its stories.

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Lord and Lady Berwick with garden designer Cecil Pinsent stood by the front gate at Attingham

Cataloguing work and research into the Attingham First World War stories continues. There’s certainly more to discover!

Thank you for reading this blog and if you would like to visit, please take a look at our website.

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Lady Berwick in 1972


Post-war Shropshire – After the war

For many people the effects of war were far from over. Tragically, on the 4th of December 1918, local boy Private Frank Morrey Smith of the Border Regiment died of illness in France aged 19 and was buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, France. He was the son of Herbert Isaac Smith who lived at 37 Urban Gardens, Millfield, Wellington.

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Attingham in the post WW1 period

 

Nine men died from Atcham during the First World War, compared to two in the Second World War, possibly because the rural population was larger at time of the First World War.

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A field of poppies on the Attingham estate

Atcham parish wanted to provide a village hall as a war memorial to local men who had died and this idea was realised when Lord Berwick gifted the Malthouse to the trustees. This was opened on the 31st of December 1925 by Colonel Charles Grant D.S.O. of Pitchford Hall. Fêtes were held in the grounds of Attingham Park to raise money to repair the roof and floor in order to make the Malthouse into a dancehall. A sprung floor was given by Morris’s ballroom in Shrewsbury. The building had originally been a malthouse in the 1600s. It would have been used for converting cereal grain into malt by soaking it in water, allowing it to sprout and then drying it to stop the grain growing anymore. Atcham’s malthouse then became the carpenter’s shop and estate yard for the Attingham estate, working alongside the blacksmith’s shop next door. The Atcham Women’s Institute, with which Lady Berwick was involved, was established in 1920 and used the Malthouse for meetings.

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The Malthouse in Atcham (c) Peter Francis, Sites of Remembrance: Shropshire War Memorials 

George Hughes, a gardener at Attingham, remained affected by his time serving in the war for the rest of his life. George was far from the only local man badly affected by his wartime experiences. Tom Godbehere who grew up in Atcham recalled some returned soldiers becoming tramps who frequented local farms. He remembered ‘one chap in particular, called Tom Morris, who used to spend a lot of time in the blacksmith’s shop doing a bit of striking for the blacksmith,’ mainly because in winter ‘there was always a warm hearth after the fire had gone out to lie on, to keep warm overnight.’

stand made by disabled soldiers and sailors, in Still Room

This c.1930 circular black lacquered wood teapot stand painted in gilt with a chinoiserie pagoda is in the Attingham collection. On the back it is labelled: ‘Made by Disabled Soldiers and Sailors at the LORD ROBERT’S MEMORIAL WORKSHOPS. SHOWROOMS. 122 BROMPTON RD LONDON SW3.’ NT 608356

In 1925, age 29, Gordon Miller became the land agent at Attingham. According to an oral history testimony, Gordon Miller was badly injured during battle in the First World War. Horrifically, he was presumed dead and put on a cart with other bodies before someone noticed he was still moving.

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Some of the gardeners at Attingham whilst the 8th Lord and Lady Berwick lived there

Celebrations were put on to welcome returning soldiers back to Shropshire. ‘The Shrewsbury Chronicle’ reported how in Berrington ‘between sixty and seventy soldiers who had returned from the war were entertained to supper in the school by the Parish Council and friends. The Rev. P. Alpe was chairman. Lord and Lady Berwick and Mr Hulton were also present.

William Hulton and his daughters feeding pigeons in Venice in 1894. William Hulton was visiting his daughter after her marriage and attended the celebration to welcome back local soldiers.

‘The room was profusely decorated and the tables presented a pleasing appearance, vases and bowls of choice roses and sweet peas being arranged in the exquisite style which is known only by the gentler sex and which is so suggestive of a labour of love. The menu consisted of geese, chicken, ducks, ham, vegetables, pastries of several kinds and fruit. No expense was spared and full justice was done to the substantial fare provided.

‘The rector, in a happy speech, extended a hearty welcome to the guests, paid tribute to the heroes who had fallen and congratulated the survivors who had taken so active a part in the defence of their country.’

Applauds were also given to those who helped the war effort at home. In his speech thanking the tenants for their present of a silver tray to mark the occasion of his marriage, Lord Berwick said that he thought the fact that British agriculture had fared so admirably during the war was ‘great testimony to the grit and determination of the farmers of England, who responded so magnificently in that awful hour of trial when they were fighting practically for the continuance of England.’

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During the Second World War, Lord Berwick played an active part in the war effort in Shropshire. He is pictured here in the Home Guard, the third from the left in the middle row

Whilst Lord Berwick does not appear to have shown a great aptitude for military life, he remained loyal to the Shropshire Yeomanry and allowed the Shropshire Yeomanry to camp at Attingham on three occasions in 1925, 1930 and 1935. These camps were held annually on a local estate. The men underwent fitness training, took part in military manoeuvres and competed in field sports.

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Lord Berwick’s speech to the Shropshire Yeomanry in 1930

As a mark of thanks for the 1930 camp held at Attingham the Shropshire Yeomanry presented Lord and Lady Berwick with a photograph album containing images of their stay. The Shropshire Yeomanry went on to serve in the Second World War, fighting in North Africa, Sicily and throughout the arduous Italian campaign. The Shropshire Yeomanry were disbanded in 1969.

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Members of the Shropshire Yeomanry are photographed playfully throwing a comrade into the air in the grounds at Attingham


Settling in Shropshire – After the war

Leaving Italy as a new bride in 1919, Teresa prepared for her new life in Shropshire as the 8th Lady Berwick. On the 23rd of August 1920, William S. Childe Pemberton wrote to Teresa from Lyme Park:

‘I feel certain that small houses are really more comfortable to live in than great palaces! This house is immense and is becoming a great anxiety to its owner in these terrible times.’

It was a similar story at Attingham. At first the newlyweds lived in Cronkhill, a small Italianate villa on the estate, and sought to let Attingham Hall.

The beautiful cantilevered staircase designed by John Nash at Cronkhill, photographed in 1919

Shortly before their marriage, Teresa had written to Lord Berwick: ‘You say such dear things about your pleasure in sharing your home with me, and I look forward to it with more happiness than I can tell you. We shall have such fun arranging the furniture, etc., for I suppose having been a hospital you had to empty Cronkhill entirely, so there will be plenty to do.’

The 8th Lord and Lady Berwick sat on the garden steps at Cronkhill

The couple arrived at Cronkhill to find the gateway decorated by the estate tenants with a floral arch to welcome them home.

Cronkhill archway 1919

The tenants presented the couple with a silver tea set that is often displayed in the Sultana Room at Attingham. In thanks for this wedding present, the 8th Lord and Lady Berwick held two summer parties for the estate tenants on the 11th and 12th of August 1920. The band of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry provided music, there were fireworks and the ‘Gaumont Film Hire Service‘ was hired. Many people living on the estate had probably never seen a film before, so it was a special and memorable occasion. After their marriage, the 8th Lord and Lady Berwick arranged plenty of parties for local people.

A view of the Sultana Room showing the tea set given to the 8th Lord and Lady Berwick as a wedding present set on the table

Although Teresa found Attingham’s tenants the Van Bergens ‘bumptious’ and some of the neighbours ‘dull’ at first, she soon settled into her new life. In January 1920 the Berwicks held a ball and Teresa was popular, Charles Grant writing from nearby Pitchford Hall: ‘you would be amused and pleased at the nice things the neighbours I have seen say about you.’

As in Italy, Teresa enjoyed helping the community. She regularly attended Women’s Institute meetings and played the piano in a charity concert to raise money for the Nursing Association. In May 1914 Teresa had played the middle movement of Chopin’s E minor concerto at a concert in the Palazzo Pisani, Venice, accompanied by an orchestra.

The 8th Lady Berwick wearing Chinese fancy dress for a 1926 Women’s Institute Christmas party

The January 1920 edition of The Gentlewoman reported that ‘The 147th anniversary in aid of the Royal Salop Infirmary has just been held at Shrewsbury, and according to the old custom, the arms were presented by the latest bride in the County – Lady Berwick.’

The article in The Gentlewoman was accompanied by this photograph of Teresa in her black velvet dress, carrying a white ostrich fan

Teresa’s father, William Hulton, came to stay with her soon after she arrived in England. Unfortunately her mother, Costanza, could not accompany him. In 1919 Costanza was ill; feeling weak and losing weight. The Hulton’s money troubles continued. These problems had been brought about due to the effect of the First World War on the economy, continued and Costanza wrote on the 26th of September 1919: ‘I hope you have a little cottage on your estate which you will be able to let to me to end my days in, for I see no prospect of a home.’

Costanza was interested to hear about her daughter’s new life and wrote to Teresa: ‘Thank you for your long letter with the little picture of Cronkhill. I can imagine how beautifully clean and polished everything was – no place like England for that – and I can imagine the fine silver and soft footed (lazy) butler. Fancy no electric light or central heating.’

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Teresa sat in one of the interiors at Cronkhill

In August 1919 Costanza gave her daughter advice about her new role as mistress of the Attingham estate. She told her to get rid of the land agent, Dease, and employ a man trained in an agricultural college as she heard that most English landowners have amateurs as land agents. Costanza felt that the Attingham estate should be bringing in more money to pay off the mortgage that had been raised on the estate. However, Dease was kept on as land agent.

The Van Bergens moved out of Attingham in March 1920, having purchased Ferney Hall in Onibury, Shropshire. In a letter to Captain Van Bergen, Lord Berwick wrote that he was sorry that he was leaving Attingham as it was good to have a friend living there. Lord Berwick wrote that the Van Bergens would always be remembered for allowing Attingham to be used as a war hospital. In 1926, the Outer Library where the hospital was based was converted into an office for the Land Agent, Gordon Miller.

Lord Berwick was soon trying to claim compensation from the Van Bergens for damage to the house and furniture, with rats infesting the house. The Van Bergens resisted these claims, leading to Lady Berwick’s opinion of them falling.

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This photograph in one of Teresa albums shows the Picture Gallery upon her arrival at Attingham.

Lord and Lady Berwick did not move into Attingham until the 8th of October 1921. The scale of the changes needed is apparent as Teresa told Costanza: ‘there are some charming octagonal ornamented rooms – the Van B’s have arranged it horribly,’ and that ‘the Van Bergens have made it hideous and covered up all the nice furniture. There are wonderful embroidered chairs and museum pieces of all sorts there. Next Spring, when they leave, we shall tidy it up and make it look nice again – but it needs a tremendous lot doing, all the carpets worn out and the walls to my mind uglily painted.’

In an article for The Townswoman, Teresa reported that most of the furniture now on display in the mansion had been stored in the basement during the First World War. Teresa asked her mother to send over her Red Cross aprons for ‘messing at Attingham.’ With her love of Italianate design and the Empire style, Teresa found Attingham rewarding and wrote to her mother: ‘Attingham is stuffed full of treasures of all kinds.’

During the 1920s Teresa had difficulty in getting servants, especially finding a satisfactory cook. Servant problems were common and in January 1920 Teresa’s acquaintance Cornelia wrote that ‘I am trying to move into a flat at Hans Court, Brompton Road, but have not found servants as yet. I want a good cook, a housemaid and a parlourmaid. If you hear of any will you let me know? It seems to be very hard to find servants.’

Servants at Attingham Hall in the 1930s

Four servants at Attingham Hall in the 1930s

Lady Berwick raised wages for maids that had shown promise after working for a month or two, but sadly many of these servants left shortly after. She annotated her notebook regarding the ‘quality’ of the servant such as good, bad, very bad. By 1931 few men appear on the household staff as they cost more to employ. By the outbreak of World War Two the situation was even worse. By 1941 the account book shows only 3 domestic staff, one of which was Mrs Durward, the much valued housekeeper and cook.

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The housekeeper, Mrs Durward, with Colette the dog

Despite these difficulties, Attingham was enjoyed by the many friends who visited Thomas and Teresa. In August 1920 a fellow Red Cross war nurse, Evelyn Gordon-Watson, kindly told Teresa: ‘it is certainly your vocation to be a HOSTESS. I never knew anyone so kind and thoughtful as both you and Berwick.’

Teresa (with her head resting on her hand) seated with friends in the Picture Gallery at Attingham


Marriage celebrations – After the war

On the 30th of June 1919 Teresa Hulton married Thomas, the 8th Lord Berwick, at the Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, the same church in which she had been christened and confirmed. Her sister, Gioconda, later attended the opening of a war memorial at the church. The church had been beautifully decorated by Sir Hubert Miller with flowers from Mrs Eden’s celebrated garden on the Giudecca. This photograph taken from the balcony of the Hulton family home shows the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo.

A photograph of the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo taken on the 21st April 1912 from the balcony of Teresa’s family home. NT 610177.99

The couple were married by the Reverend Canon Knollys, the British Chaplain at Florence. They had wanted to marry on the 28th of June but Canon Knollys could not be there that day. They had various problems in the run up to the wedding including being unsure whether they would be able to marry in Venice, a printers’ strike meaning the Hultons might have had to hand write invitations, and the dressmaker not finishing Teresa’s dress until shortly before the wedding.

Teresa commented to Lord Berwick: ‘It would certainly be nice if you wore your uniform, in any case I was going to suggest your bringing it as it might be useful when travelling, and it will be a fitting end to our war life, but please decide what is really most comfortable. I probably shall wear a night gown or some old rag as there is a dressmaker’s strike too!’  

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Teresa’s wedding dress shows fold creases in this photograph, suggesting that she was rushed in receiving it in time for the wedding!

Lord Berwick was 41 and Teresa was 28 when they married. Lord Berwick arranged a marriage settlement to Teresa of £88 per annum to provide for her.

The wedding day was beautifully described in an official report:

‘The bride, who looked very beautiful in a gown of silver brocade, simple and mediaeval in line, with a train of Brussels lace, which her mother and grandmother had worn on their wedding days, was given away by her father. Her sister, Miss Gioconda Hulton, attended her as bridesmaid, and she wore a pale grey satin dress embroidered in gold.

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The orange blossom wedding wreath worn by Teresa for her wedding.

‘Mr Reginald Bridgeman acted as best man. Lord Berwick wore the uniform of Captain in the Shropshire Yeomanry. Many friends attended the wedding, including Mrs and Miss Gordon Watson.

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Left to right: Gioconda (Teresa’s sister), Reggie Bridgeman (best man), Canon Knollys, Teresa, Lord Berwick.

‘After the ceremony the bride and bridegroom were conveyed in Mr Spender’s splendidly appointed gondola to the Palazzo Contarini Dal Zaffo, the magnificent palace which Mr and Mrs Humphreys Johnstone had very kindly lent for the reception. The garden still preserves its original architectural features, being adorned with statues, urns, pleached alleys and arbours. It stands on the edge of the city, and from the garden one looks across the lagoon of Venice to the mainland.

‘The long procession of gondolas proceeding from the Church up the Grand Canal to the Palazzo Contarini, each propelled by two lusty gondoliers, presented a spectacle which will long remain in the memory of those who witnessed it. 

‘Among the very numerous wedding presents to the bride were:-  A diamond diadem (by Cartier) from the bridegroom; a diamond ring from The Hon. Mary Noel Hill; a turquoise and diamond ring from Lady D’Abernon; a string of pearls from the bride’s uncles and aunts; a ruby pendant from Mr Spence; a rope of seed pearls from Tenente Luigi Villari; a pair of silver Empire Candelabra from Count and Countess Carlo Brandolin; a Vernis-Martin box from Mr Reginald Temple; a dressing box from the Hon. Irene Lawley; a pair of silver candlesticks from the Marchesa Sommi Picenardi; Old Venetian glass decanters, glasses and tray from Mr Arthur Spender; a sapphire and diamond bracelet from Mr and Mrs Humphreys Johnstone; a jewelled brooch from Sir Hubert Miller and Miss Hastings.’

It seems that Teresa would have had more wedding gifts as Dino Spranger wrote afterwards: ‘Mr Sellequassi did not approve of the crown I had designed for you – it was a beautiful crown, I had got it from an old illustration of Grimm’s fairy tales + it would have suited you to a T. However, he objected saying it was no longer the fashion to wear crowns like that, + I had to bow to his superior knowledge. I trust he has not led me astray.’

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Teresa evidently liked medieval style clothing, as is seen in this photograph of her in medieval fancy dress in the 1930s.

The wedding reception was held at the Palazzo Contarini Dal Zaffo because the Hulton family’s home in Venice was still not repaired adequately following bomb damage during the war.

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The Hulton family home in Venice © Robin Fox 2016

Lord Berwick wrote to his aunt Ada that the ‘wedding was a v. great success,’ but unfortunately Teresa was suffering from one of her frequent headaches on her wedding day. Costanza wrote: ‘I felt SO SORRY for you on the day of the wedding, and it must have been very trying for you to have to give explanations.’ Ever worried about her daughter’s health she warned her, ‘Do take care of yourself about colds – especially now that you are going to live in England.’

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Teresa on her wedding day.

After the wedding, Costanza sent all the young girls who attended boxes of bonbons and orange blossoms from Teresa’s bouquet. Costanza also advised giving ‘a sum for the poor here. It is done for weddings as well as for funerals. If you don’t want to ask him, let me know and I will send something instead.’ The wedding was expensive for the family and Costanza comments: ‘on Thursday I again went to the Johnstones and Willy paid the bill – 1500 for dinner, party and big reception, including tips. I delighted Anne by telling her I thought it would be 2000.’

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Lord and Lady Berwick pictured on their honeymoon in July 1919

On their honeymoon Teresa and Tom journeyed through Switzerland where they went on motor trips and picnicked in the countryside. Much of their honeymoon was spent at Lake Garda.

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Teresa on her honeymoon and her new husband visiting some of the nurses she worked with during the war.

Unfortunately the political situation was far from serene. Tom wrote from Lake Garda to his Aunt Ada: ‘There is much talk of the coming revolution in Italy. Certainly things are very bad here. There have been riots in nearly all the big towns and private houses have been looted in Florence.’

Teresa bought this grey embroidered hat in Florence in 1919.

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Teresa’s grey embroidered hat bought in Florence in 1919

On their way to Shropshire the couple stayed in Paris. Costanza advised them to attend to adjustments to the diadem that Lord Berwick had given Teresa:

‘you must take your diadem to Cartier and show him that it does not fit well when worn on the forehead. I am sure he ought to take out a diamond on each side of the upper band and shorten it that much or even more. If it is already paid for, keep those extra diamonds, but if not, they ought to be reckoned in the price. Do tell me what Tom paid for it – I guessed about 80,000 Francs.’

Lady Helen D’Abernon gives a lovely glimpse of Lord and Lady Berwick in Paris at the Ritz in early September 1919: ‘from their aspect & from a tiny talk with Teresa, I gathered a very happy impression of mutual devotion & understanding & content. I never saw T. look handsomer – you know she has a striking resemblance to some of the early representations of Pallas Athenethe Greek goddess of wisdom.

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Teresa pictured in The Tatler in 1921.


Medals of achievement – After the war

Teresa Hulton (1890–1972)

On the 18th of December 1918 Teresa received exciting news. She wrote to her mother, Costanza, ‘Just heard that Mrs W + I (and I suppose the Gordon Watsons) have received the Croce di Guerra.’ 

Croce di Guerre Announcement 1918

A 1918 postcard that mentions Teresa and Mrs Watkins receiving the Croce di Guerre (Italian War cross medal). Teresa signs the message with her childhood nickname, Bim.

The Croce di Guerra (Cross of War) was instituted by King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy in January 1918. The medal was awarded for merit in ‘land, sea or air operations after at least a year’s service in the trenches or elsewhere in contact with the enemy; to those wounded in action; those who had performed acts of bravery and those who had achieved promotion for a mention for war effort.’

The medal was bronze and the front shows the royal cypher and the inscription ‘Merito di Guerra’. The reverse shows a five pointed star on a background of rays. The ribbon is alternate blue and white stripes.

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Teresa’s Croce di Guerra medal. This small bronze medal is inscribed ‘MERITO DI GUERRA’. It hangs on a blue and white striped silk ribbon.

Teresa was awarded the Croce di Guerra in January 1919. She wrote to her future husband, Lord Berwick, about the ceremony that she and Mrs Watkins attended to receive their medals:

On the last evening General Caviglia assembled his HQ staff and presented each of us with the Croce di Guerra, making a charming speech. We were much touched and it is a nice ending to our war work especially coming from such a fine soldier’.

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Teresa and Mrs Watkins receiving their Croce di Guerra medals

In the same letter she added, upon hearing of Lord Berwick’s involvement with diplomatic work in Paris to negotiate a Peace Treaty: ‘I see you have been promoted. Many congratulations – we seem to be getting on in our military careers’.

Lord Berwick wrote back to her: ‘My dear Teresa, I was delighted to hear what a successful and pleasant journey you had and besides your other successes, that you had been decorated by General Caviglia with the Croce di Guerra. My very best congratulations – I feel this is a very great compliment to you and a surely well earned reward for your devoted work for Italy during the war and it gives me the greatest pleasure that you have it and as you say, to have received it in such circumstances and at the hands of so great a general makes it a still more valued possession.’

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This page in Mrs Watkins’s wartime album commemorates the day she and Teresa received their war medals (c) Hamish Scott

Teresa was also subsequently awarded the Medaglia Commemorativa Della Guerra 1915 – 1918 Per Il Compimento dell Unita d’Italia (the Commemorative Medal For The War 1915 -1918 For The Completing Of The Union Of Italy). This medal was introduced in July 1920. The title of the medal refers to ‘Completing The Union Of Italy’ because the Italians saw the First World War as continuing their endeavour to unite all areas of Italy into one nation by acquiring land held by Austria.

Circular bronze medal of 1920 inscribed: S.CANEVARI. GUERRA PER L’UNITA D’ITALIA CONIATA. NEL BRONZO-NEMICO (War for the Unity of Italy 1915 1918) NT 609990

The medal was awarded to armed service personnel, civilians who assisted the armed services and to Red Cross workers and ambulance drivers. The medal was designed by the sculptor S. Canevari. It features the King Victor Emmanuel III in a military uniform and helmet on the front and around the edge are the words ‘Guerra Per L’Unita d’Italia 1915 – 1918’ (War For The Unity Of Italy 1915 – 1918). The reverse shows a winged ‘Victory’ figure held aloft by two helmeted soldiers and around the edge are the words ‘COINATA N.EL BRONZO NEIVIICO’ (Coined from enemy bronze).

Another medal in the Attingham collection is the Croce Commemorativa della Terza Armata, Guerra 1915 – 1918. This is the Commemorative Cross of the Italian Third Army during the First World War. It features a white enamel and silvered bronze Greek cross surmounted by the Crown of Savoy. On the face of the cross is depicted the Lion of St Mark with a sword in its right paw.

Teresa’s Italian war medals NT 610024

Lord Berwick (1877–1947)

On the 27th of June 1919 Lord Berwick received from The War Office a formal notice of his demobilisation from the army, which had occurred on the 2nd of June 1919. The document included the following words of gratitude:

I am also to take this opportunity of conveying the thanks of the Army Council for your services to the Country during the late war and for the excellent work you have done’.

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Lord Berwick’s demobilisation certificate dated June 1919

Lord Berwick was awarded the British War Medal and The Allied Victory Medal for his war services.

Two medals by Spink and Son Ltd., circa 1919, hung on silk ribbons and sewn to a silver pin bar. One medal depicts a winged classical female holding a torch (the Allied Victory Medal). The other is cast with the head of King George V in profile (the British War Medal). NT 610076

The British War Medal is a campaign medal of the British Empire awarded for service during World War One. The medal was approved in 1919 for all who had served between the 5th of August 1914 and the 11th of November 1918. Approximately 6.5 million medals were issued.

The medal is circular and is made of silver (although some were bronze). The front of the medal shows the head of King George V. The reverse shows St George on horseback with the dates 1914 and 1918. The medal ribbon has a wide stripe of orange flanked by two narrow white stripes which in turn are flanked by two narrow black stripes, followed by two narrow blue stripes.

The Allied Victory Medal was issued within the British Empire as a result of the Peace Conference that resulted in the Treaty of Versailles. It was awarded to British citizens who had been mobilised during the First World War.

by Spink and Sons Ltd

Another photograph of Lord Berwick’s war medals NT 610076.1.1

The medal is circular and is lacquered in bronze. The front of the medal shows the winged figure of the goddess Victory. The reverse has the words ‘The Great War For Civilisation 1914 – 1918’ surrounded by a laurel leaf. The ribbon has a rainbow design with violet on the outside moving to red in the centre.

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Lord Berwick in his military uniform in 1922

The British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal awarded to Lord Berwick for his service in the First World War are inscribed to ‘Major Berwick’. Peter Duckers, former Curator of Shropshire Regimental Museum, said that these medals, which are now housed in the museum, would have been inscribed for the highest rank achieved by an individual and he is in no doubt that Lord Berwick was a Major at some point, although he did say this may have only been in an acting or ceremonial capacity.

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Lord Berwick’s military medals in Shropshire Regimental Museum


Treaties of peace – After the war

As part of his work for the British Embassy, Lord Berwick was involved in the Peace Conference in Paris in January 1919 that immediately preceded the Treaty of Versailles.  In March 1915 Lord Berwick had written to his future wife, Teresa, from Paris. He wrote: ‘it would be very interesting to be here at the end of the war, when peace negotiations begin.’

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Thomas Henry Noel-Hill, 8th Lord Berwick of Attingham

As part of his diplomatic work, Lord Berwick attended a formal dinner and wrote to Teresa on the 27th of February 1919:

 ‘The Ambassador gave a big dinner of 60 people on Saturday to meet the Prince of Wales… nearly all the principal delegates were there, with the exception of poor Clemenceau who was of course unable to come, and Lloyd George.’

Lord Berwick admired the Borghese plate that had once adorned the dinner tables of Pauline Borghese, sister of Napoleon. Lord Berwick was interested in the supposed link between furniture at Attingham and Caroline Murat, another of Napoleon’s sisters. William, the Third Lord Berwick (1773-1842), was reputed to have acquired objects from her palace in Naples and brought them to Attingham.

Caroline-Marie Bonaparte, Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples (1782-1839) by Louis Ducis (Versailles 1775 ¿ Paris 1847)
This portrait of Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples (1782-1839) by Louis Ducis, circa 1810, was brought by Lord Berwick in 1927. It now hangs in Attingham’s Drawing Room. NT 608957

Attending the dinner, Lord Berwick thought that ‘the most picturesque figure was the Emir Feisal (leader of The Arabs in World War One), closely attended by Col. Lawrence’ (T. E. Lawrence of Arabia).

In 1925 T. E. Lawrence bought Clouds Hill, a small cottage in Dorset now owned by the National Trust. It was conveniently placed for him to retreat to whilst stationed at nearby Bovington Camp, although tragically he died in a motorcycle accident in 1935 whilst returning from the camp.

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Inside T. E. Lawrence’s home at Cloud’s Hill

Lord Berwick wrote to Teresa about the Peace Conference again on March the 13th 1919. Unfortunately, ‘all the big questions still remain to be adjudicated on, and from the little one knows, no power except perhaps ourselves is animated by the Wilsonian spirit sufficiently to give up anything they want in the general interest… but there seems to be a feeling that Germany will relapse into Bolshevism if peace is not concluded soon.’

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Lord Berwick’s diplomatic uniform in the Attingham collection

The meeting of the Allied victors to set peace terms for defeated Central Powers following the end of the First World War was long and complicated. Thirty two countries were represented at the talks.

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The peace treatise document. Photograph in the Public Domain

The US President, Woodrow Wilson, would not support the punitive fines on Germany desired by other countries. In the end, the USA did not ratify the treaty and did not join the League of Nations. The British Prime Minister David Lloyd George had doubts about the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles on Germany, prophetically saying in 1918 that ‘it is essential that the settlement after this war shall be one which does not itself bear the seed of future war.’

It took six months from the end of the war to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

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Lord Berwick in his military uniform outside his house at Cronkhill on the Attingham estate in 1904

On March the 24th 1919 Lord Berwick visited Noyon, France. In Noyon and its surrounding towns there was ‘hardly a house standing,’ and Montdidier was ‘entirely destroyed. Shell holes all round it.’ He wrote of the terrible damage to Noyon Cathedral, with its ‘roof entirely gone and part of the walls. All the glass gone.’ Fortunately ‘a very beautiful altar 18th century in the center of the church’ remained ‘undamaged.’ After twenty years of repair work the cathedral was restored.

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Noyon Cathedral (c) Wikimedia Commons

Lord Berwick was not the only one to attend peace talks. Teresa’s uncle Luigi Villari was involved in peace negotiations in the Salonica Peace Treaty that aimed at Serbian Peace. Signed on the 29th of September 1919 between Bulgaria and the Allies in Thessaloniki, it ended Bulgaria’s involvement in the First World War. After leaving the army Luigi spent his time lecturing and writing books.

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A photograph of Luigi Villari (1876-1959) wearing military uniform on horseback taken in June 1916NT 610177.185

In July 1920 Teresa’s friend Lady Helen D’Abernon accompanied her husband on the Interallied Mission to Poland which had been organised by Prime Minister David Lloyd George to attempt to influence Polish policy through a change in government, although the Polish victory at the Battle of Warsaw made the mission defunct before it could achieve any real importance. Lady Helen D’Abernon also accompanied her husband when he was sent as the British Ambassador to the Weimar Republic in the 1920s.

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Lady Helen D’Abernon

The war changed attitudes towards women working. Early in the war women helping the war effort under the auspices of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies were treated with disdain by some people. A friend of Teresa’s sister, Gioconda, wrote after the war that she thinks that the diplomatic service ought to be open to women as well as men, as women are ‘perfectly capable of this kind of work.’ 


A welcome peace – November 1918

Teresa Hulton (1890-1972)

On the 21st of November 1918 Teresa’s acquaintance, Eduardo Di Giovanni, wrote to Teresa that he had met Costanza who said that Teresa was ill. Eduardo wrote that he had heard that Teresa was ‘expected shortly to begin your work again. Are you not too ambitious perhaps for the strength you have? Last summer you seemed very frail, and I thought then that you needed rest. You have done so much already. Why not knock off a bit?’

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The nursing team that Teresa was part of are photographed with wounded soldiers (c) Hamish Scott

Teresa’s war efforts are even more admirable given that she suffered from health issues, including frequent severe headaches. Since the war began many had advised her to take it easy but she had valiantly carried on and many were grateful for the efforts that she made in her wartime work. E. V. Lucas wrote in his pamphlet about the British Red Cross in Italy, Outposts of Mercy,the wonderful missionary spirit of our countrywomen was never better exemplified than in the devoted toil of this little band’ established by Mrs Watkins.

Newspaper clipping from the Tribuna Illustrata showing Mabel Campbell and Teresa Hulton helping the wounded soldiers on the train at San Giovanni di Manzano, northern Italy, taken between October and December 1915.

A newspaper clipping from the Tribuna Illustrata showing Teresa and a fellow nurse, Mabel Campbell, taking refreshments to a train load of wounded soldiers.

The end of the war meant that Teresa could ‘knock off a bit.’ On November the 3rd the Austro-Hungarians signed an armistice with Italy. The Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed as the ruling Habsburgs were overthrown and the armistice was signed by Austria and Hungary as separate countries. By November the 4th the fighting was over in Italy. 400,000 Austro-Hungarians had died and 1,200,000 had been wounded on the Italian Front. Italy had lost a total of around 650,000, with 950,000 wounded.

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Europe pictured in a 1732 map book in the Attingham collection

Italy’s war aims had been to gain contested territory from Austria-Hungary, such as Dalmatia on the Adriatic Sea. The British and French argued that Italy’s contribution to the outcome of the war was limited and many of the territories that the Allies had promised to Italy were never granted, which led to resentment from many Italians.

As the war ended for Italy Mrs Watkins and Teresa were setting up beds in their new Gardone hospital and caring for some patients who had the Spanish Flu. Eva Williams wrote to Teresa saying that she supposes everyone in the hospital will be rejoicing in the peace news. Soon the wartime outposts established by Mrs Watkins would not be needed. Some photographs in Teresa’s album show the war hospital at San Giovanni Manzano where she had worked. In the images it is possible to see the debris caused by the war which needed to be cleared away.

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Teresa and a fellow war nurse stand outside a wartime shelter. Teresa (in the hat) holds a small animal which may be the abandoned kitten rescued by the nurses.

Eva Williams asked if Teresa was still looking after the grey kitten that had been adopted by the nurses. Teresa loved animals and owned many dogs whilst living at Attingham. Photographs show her with Tenace, a black and white French Bulldog who was given to her in 1908 by George Eustis, an American admirer. George Eustis had been traveling to the US via Paris when he purchased the dog and had it sent to Venice. Although she eagerly accepted the dog, Teresa refused George who was later to marry an American lady.

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Teresa with Tenace in 1912

Lord Berwick (1877-1947)

The London Gazette announced on 26th November 1918 that Lieutenant Lord Berwick had been promoted to a Captain in the Shropshire Yeomanry on 28th September and that he was to remain seconded.

Lord Berwick was uncertain about when he might be demobilised. He told Teresa on 19th November 1918 that he had ‘unexpectedly received orders to go on special duty.’  He was sent to Fiume (now Rijeka, in Croatia) but it was to be a short posting. He was to return to Headquarters that day because ‘I got other orders just as I was starting to come here.’ He was sorry to leave ‘an attractive sunny place … so soon’ but he hoped to see Teresa when he was back in Italy.  However, the following day he discovered that, ‘my sudden recall was due to a telegram from the War Office that I was to report to London at once.’

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Fiume stamps in Mrs Watkins’s wartime album (c) Hamish Scott

Coincidentally, Teresa’s next move was to Fiume, where she went with Mrs Watkins to open a recreation hut for Italian soldiers. ‘How I wish you were still there,’ she wrote to Lord Berwick.

Lord Berwick travelled to Paris where, in his role as Honorary Secretary to the British Embassy, he helped with the forthcoming Peace talks once the war had ended.

An English version of the Treatise of Versailles, photograph in the Public Domain

An English version of the Treatise of Versailles, photograph in the Public Domain

By early November mass unrest had erupted in Germany and many men in the German Navy mutinied as they refused to engage in battle with the British Navy. On the 9th of November 1918 the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, abdicated and prepared to leave Germany. Germany was declared a republic.

On the 11th of November 1918 at 5:10 am in a railway carriage at Compiègne, France, the Germans signed the Armistice. This became effective at 11am; the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Fighting continued along the Western Front until precisely 11 o’clock, with 2,000 casualties experienced that day by all sides. Artillery barrages erupted shortly before 11am as soldiers wanted to claim that they fired the last shot in the war.

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This photograph in the Imperial War Museum collection shows the train in which the armistice was signed (c) IWM Q 58432

Total estimated casualties of all the nations that fought in the First World War were 8.5 million killed and 21 million wounded.

 

Attingham

On the 6th of November 1918 Private Ernest Thomas William Luther of the Machine Gun Corps, formerly the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI), died aged twenty as a prisoner of war. He was the son of John and Ann Luther who lived in Uckington, a village near Attingham. His father was a wagoner. Ernest had enlisted in Shrewsbury into the KSLI. He was buried at Saint-Ghislain Hainaut Province Belgium and there is a memorial to him in St Eata’s Church, Atcham.

Another Shropshire man to die in November 1918 was the poet Wilfred Owen. Born in Oswestry in 1893, he came to live in Shrewsbury in 1907. Wilfred Owen attended the Technical College by the English Bridge and from 1913 to 1915 was teaching at a school in France. He returned to England to enlist into the army.

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A photograph of Wilfred Owen in the Imperial War Museum collection (c) IWM Q 79045

Wilfred Owen died on the 4th of November 1918 crossing the Sambre Canal on a raft. The Second Battle of the Sambre, which began on the 4th of November, was the final Allied attack of the war.

Staff and patients in the war hospital at Attingham were relieved to hear that the war had ended. During the war 38,000 V.A.D. nurses had worked in convalescent hospitals or driven ambulances in Britain. The wartime convalescent hospital at Attingham saw a total of 397 patients admitted, with one death. Attingham Park Auxiliary Military Hospital closed after the end of the War, late in 1918 or early in 1919. In a letter to Lord Berwick in April 1919, Captain Van Bergen, the tenant of Attingham Hall, referred to the hospital as ‘a great boon to the country and county’.

A poster commemorating the use of Attingham Hall as a military hospital during WW1

A poster commemorating the use of Attingham Hall as a military hospital during WW1


Triumphs and losses – October 1918

Teresa Hulton (1890-1972)

The Spanish Flu pandemic had been sweeping the globe since early 1918. Teresa and others called the virus outbreak Spanish Flu because it was mainly reported in Spanish newspapers.  It was causing havoc all over Europe but because most European countries were at war with each other reports were suppressed to conceal the impact of the virus on their forces.  Spain was a neutral country, not involved in the fighting, so the epidemic was reported in their newspapers giving rise to its association with Spain.

Teresa’s friend Lillian Carlyle wrote to her that some of the people they knew had Spanish Flu, including Christobel the daughter of Evelyn Gordon-Watson with whom Teresa worked at the Italian front.

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Mrs Gordon-Watson and her daughter Christobel with a group of soldiers (c) Hamish Scott

Teresa suffered acutely when she caught the Spanish Flu and was brought lower than during any of her previous trials during the war. She later admitted in her diary: ‘while I was ill, I heard of the deaths from ‘flu of a number of friends, among whom 5 or 6 young men and girls – and for a time I quite hoped my time had come too.’

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Teresa (in the centre) is photographed with two fellow nurses at the opening of a new rest station for soldiers managed by Mrs Watkins (c) Hamish Scott

Many people whom Teresa’s sister Gioconda was acquainted with had Spanish Flu, including Joan Bentwick who Gioconda worked with as a secretary in the Intelligence Division at the British Admiralty. Fortunately Joan survived. Another acquaintance of Gioconda’s, Miss Heynes, died after only three days of sickness. Gioconda was offered Miss Heynes’s place working in the British Embassy in Rome.

Gioconda, Rome 1918

Gioconda photographed in Rome in 1918

Before Teresa fell ill she went to meet Mrs Watkins, the leader of the group of war nurses, at Verona. On October the 11th a fellow nurse, Georgiana R. Sheldon, wrote to Teresa from the American Hospital for Italian Wounded: I hope that you will let me know how things have been arranged and whether you and Mrs. Watkins are going directly to Gardone to arrange the convalescent home.’

The other hospital staff at the American Hospital were leaving but Georgiana stayed: ‘I feel the need of a change more than I can tell you, but, at the same time, I do not think this is the moment to travel, and also I do not like to leave the Hospital when, at any moment, there may be a possibility, although I hope not a probability, of an outbreak of the influenza in our midst. This morning we heard that little Nadine Kirsch has died of it and the boy, Giulio, is very ill indeed.’

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Georgiana Sheldon’s signature is fourth from the top among the signatures preserved in Mrs Watkins’s wartime album (c) Hamish Scott

Georgiana appreciated keeping in touch with Teresa, adding humourously: ‘Do send me a card, now and then, and tell me how you are and keep up our spirits here. You must not forget that you have a life of excitement and must therefore stand by the dullards who are here in Florence.’

The situation for the Italian army was hopeful in October 1918 as they mounted an offensive targeting Vittorio Veneto and broke through a gap near Sacile. On the 24th of October Italian divisions incorporating British, French and American soldiers crossed the Piave River and attacked the four remaining Austro-Hungarian armies.

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British horse drawn transport and an Italian motor ambulance crossing a temporary bridge in October 1918 during the Vittorio Veneto offensive (c) IWM Q 26722 

The Austro-Hungarian defensive line was destroyed with 30,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers killed and over 400,000 taken prisoner. On the 3rd of November 1918 Austria-Hungary sent a flag of truce asking the Italians for armistice. The armistice took effect on the 4th of November 1918 at 3pm.

The war was almost over and the casualties near the end of the war are poignant. On October the 25th Teresa received a letter from Adolf Keyeux, the Belgian refugee boy who she had helped with his education in England where he had fled in 1914. Adolf had just joined the Belgian Army in the Field. On October the 17th the Belgian King Albert had entered the city of Ostend on the Belgian coast.

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The reverse of an envelope enclosing the letter sent to Teresa by Adolf Keyeux

Teresa kept the letter, noting that it was found on the body of a dead German officer who had taken it from Adolf who had been killed. The letter is even more heart-breaking because of the cheerfulness with which Adolf writes telling Teresa that ‘we are very heartily welcomed everywhere in our reconquered county’ and went through Bruges just after the Germans left, which felt like ‘a real triumph’ as ‘all the people were out, shouting & cheering us, thousands of flags were flying.’

Adolf adds: ‘You will excuse my writing you such a hurried letter but we are so busy in these times. If we push the Germans back, it is not always without pain. I am now in a post that is what may be termed a ‘good job’ but I have plenty to do. It is often dangerous but always I remain lucky and as I volunteered to see interesting things, I am just in the right place.’

Lord Berwick (1877-1947)

Teresa’s future husband, Lord Berwick, was to fall victim to Spanish Flu in December 1918. His time in hospital recovering from the illness prompted him to worry about the fact that he was thirteen years Teresa’s senior. He wrote: ‘when I went into hospital I felt so old and tired and the Drs. made me think that I was not very strong, so that I began to think that it was too late to start life again.’

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Lord Berwick on his wedding day

 

Attingham

People in Shropshire received news of many Allied victories in October 1918. The end of the war was coming into sight. Teresa’s friend Tiny Cox, working in a London hospital, wrote that ‘we are literally working 12 hours a day – considering the heavy fighting & grand news now the casualty lists have been unimpossibly small. I’m to think we may really be without a war in a few months.’ 

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This photograph in the Imperial War Museum collection shows pipers of the Gordon Highlanders marching though the newly liberated Douchy-lès-Ayette in France in October 1918. © IWM Q 11412

Allied troops renewed their offensive in France, beginning a series of battles that forced the Germans back. The Allies broke through the remnants of the Hindenburg line. The German army retreated and many prisoners were taken.


Short staffed – September 1918

Teresa Hulton (1890-1972)

By September 1918 Teresa was again working with Mrs Marie Watkins and her team of nurses helping soldiers on the Italian Front. A letter dated September the 20th 1918 from Mrs Watkins told Teresa: ‘I will wire to you as soon as things are difficult & count on your help.’

Teresa’s assistance was valuable as some of Mrs Watkins’s team were ill. Bridget Talbot was ‘in hospital with Jaundice’ and the soldiers’ canteens she took charge of were closed until she felt well again. Another nurse, ‘Mrs Gordon-Watson is at the hospital at Bordighera convalescing – Lillian Trelawny will tell you all our news. She is a great success here.’

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Mrs Gordon-Watson and a fellow nurse with some Italian soldiers. The baskets of fruit and jugs suggest that they are serving refreshments to the troops. (c) Hamish Scott

Mrs Watkins writes that ‘the ambulance solution is undecided & if the B.R.C. [British Red Cross] don’t provide one I shall try to collect the money + believe I could do so easily.’

She adds: ‘I shall have to have another uniform made – could you find out if there is a good tailors in our new neighbourhood – say Verona.’ In her next letter she told Teresa to ‘decide if you prefer B.R.C. or the order of St. John – I belong to the latter which is much more interesting historically. The uniform of the former is blue – and the latter black.’

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The hospital at Fasano where the team of nurses worked from 1918-19. Mrs Watkins is seated at the front wearing black (c) Hamish Scott

Mrs Watkins and her team had begun their war work using their own funds. As these ran low in February 1917 they joined the Joint War Organisation, formed by the combined Red Cross and the Order of St. John, using the organisation’s funds to continue their work. It seems that Teresa had a choice between the uniforms of the two organisations.

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Teresa wearing a formal Red Cross uniform and headdress in 1919

On the 10th of September 1918 Teresa wrote to her sister, Gioconda, from Castel del Piano, Perugia describing her work. This mostly involved dealing with supplies as she had done earlier in the war:

Mrs G. W. [Gordon-Watson] was ill all the time and at last General Newlands (R.A.M.C.) who is a friend of theirs heard about it & sent a doctor & an ambulance + insisted upon carrying her straight off to an English hospital partly for nurses at Montecchio near Vicenza – so Christobel + I remained alone for a few days until Mrs Carlyle arrived + I left.’

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Teresa’s fellow nurse Christobel Gordon-Watson holding two pigeons. No explanation as to why is given but pigeons were used for war work in the First World War (c) Hamish Scott

Teresa was ill herself, suffering from an awful toothache for a fortnight. ‘However, in spite of all these unpleasant accidents it was I repeat very jolly – we had several nice friends who came to see us + brought presents of food, etc., as usual; + we were made much of by everyone.’

Teresa anticipated World War Two when she wrote that the war ‘might easily be very bad for the character; having whole armies at one’s beck + call makes it quite difficult to return to the simple status of one among thousands when one comes back to civilian life again!’

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A 1941 photograph of Lord and Lady Berwick in the garden at Attingham

Teresa enjoyed looking at the old buildings and churches in the picturesque town of Perugia where she was staying with four other nurses. She wrote: ‘The country is lovely, olives + cypresses + brown hills & beautiful sunsets.’

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Teresa wearing her Red Cross headdress whilst in Florence in 1918

Teresa was living in ‘a most charming old villa, rather délabrée for it had been uninhabited for years. However, Anna who is a perfect wonder has managed in a very few weeks to make it very pretty and comfortable. The house is full of pictures, prints & all sorts of pretty furniture, so that she has good material to work with, and there are pretty painted rooms etc. & a long terrace garden with open work brick walls + gates & altogether the makings of a lovely place.’

Teresa added that: ‘My plans for the future are very unsettled but I hope to hear from Mrs Watkins that the convalescent home on the Faccia di Garda is really coming off + in that case I shall join her again very soon.’

She did manage to get a break from her nursing duties to meet her father in Florence where she went to go shopping and have her hair shampooed.

The war was going well for Italy. On the 15th of September the Allies pushed the Bulgarians out of Serbia. Italian, French and Serbian troops made rapid gains, advancing nearly twenty miles northwards from Greece in three days.

Family friend Lady Helen D’Abernon sent a letter to Gioconda who was in Rome. She wrote how strange it was to see German prisoners working in the woods and growing crops. She laments that her estate at Esher Place in Surrey suffered four years of overgrowth and neglect since the war began due to the shortage of staff.

Servants at Attingham Hall in the 1930s

Servants at Attingham Hall in the 1930s

During the war 400,000 people left domestic service to enter the armed forces or war production jobs like metalworking and engineering. Of the one million women working in munitions a quarter came from domestic service. Before the war there were few jobs open to women and domestic service was the dominant female occupation.

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This poster in the Imperial War Museum collection gives an idea of the propaganda spread to encourage women to enlist for war work © IWM Art.IWM PST 13195 

Wealthy families encouraged their menservants to enlist by promising to guarantee an income for their families and to keep jobs open if they returned. Some wealthy households replaced footmen with ‘footgirls’ but most reverted to Parlour Maids. There were female chauffeurs and gardeners. As a result women’s wages increased.

The war created great social change and the world of domestic service would never be the same. After the war the Berwicks struggled to hire and retain staff for Attingham.

Lord Berwick (1877-1947)

Lord Berwick had served with the Shropshire Yeomanry as a Lieutenant since before the First World War. On September the 28th 1918 he was promoted to the rank of Captain.

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Lord Berwick’s uniform as a County Deputy Lieutenant is now in Shropshire Regimental Museum 

By the 22nd of September 1918 Lord Berwick had returned to his cipher work in Italy following a visit to Attingham. He wrote to Teresa: ‘I found my home very untidy, the Park overgrown with ragwort and thistles, and the paths round the house non-existent. Also my tenant (who must be an Irish-American) had selected the front lawn as a place to keep an enormous sow and young pigs! He is protecting himself behind the Defense of the Realm Act to get out of most of his responsibilities, feeding the deer, keeping up the vinery and the place in order, in fact the Lease is practically a dead letter, not a satisfactory state of affairs.’

On his way back to Italy he stopped at Paris, which he found ‘unrecognisable, one is hustled on the pavement by burly and very plain Y.M.C.A. workers, the American twang meets one at every turn, and American lorries crash along the Champs-Élysées. I suppose one must not be ungrateful for this welcome though rather noisy help in the war effort.’

Unfortunately upon getting back to Italy he developed ‘a very high temperature which continued till Friday. I rather foolishly offered to continue my work, as there was no other cipher officer here, it was a great effort and had the effect of prolonging my illness.’

By the 30th of September Lord Berwick was taken to an Italian clearing station ‘as my temperature was going up again and I could not get proper treatment and food where I was.’ He was transferred to a Base hospital. ‘How I wish I could find myself being handed a cup of tea enroute by yourself, or find you at the Hospital where I am going. But fate seems to be very unkind to us at present.’

The many long letters that Lord Berwick sent Teresa at this time illustrate their growing attachment in advance of their marriage in June 1919.


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.

Wedding day group photo HIGH RES

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.