|The Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital
Members of the Eton Wick History Group learnt that the person to go to for information on the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital at Taplow is, without a doubt, Mrs. Jean Tyler (formerly Jean Ireland of Eton Wick). She entertained the Group at their Meeting on the 17th of April, with fascinating facts and anecdotes relating to Cliveden and the history of the hospital: information which she had gleaned during the many years she had worked in its Photographic Department. Mrs. Tyler had been given the task of sorting out all the photographs held at the hospital, and she had brought to the meeting some display boards into which she had incorporated many of those interesting photographs, together with extracts from the 'Chronicles of Cliveden', and other memorabilia.
The History Group learned that the Cliveden House we know
today was constructed in 1871, but that the Cliveden estate was in the Manor of
Taplow before 1066, held by Earl Godwin, and that in 1660 the second Duke of
Buckingham built the first house on that site - it burnt down and a new one was
constructed in 1824 for Sir George Warrender only to be burnt down again just
twenty-four years later; and the next re-building was the Classic style house which stands today. The Astors, who were the last family to own Cliveden (they gave it to the National Trust in 1942), gave their tennis court and bowling alley for conversion into the hospital for Canadian soldiers during World War I; it catered for 100 patients at a time, and subsequently more space was made available when the Astors offered their Polo ground which meant they could accommodate 600 patients 24,000 patients were treated there throughout the First World War. At the end of the War most of the buildings were removed. However, under the same arrangement the hospital was rebuilt and re-equipped in 1940 and by the end of World War II it had cared for a further 25,068 patients. The Canadian people gave the hospital to Britain at the end of the War, and it became a national research centre for Rheumatism, particularly among children.
The hospital had its own school for the children, and they were also taught how to carry out certain tasks themselves, such as cooking and typing; a particular highlight for the children was the visit of the Canadian Mounties when in Windsor for the Horse Show. Many local ladies will remember the hospital as a maternity hospital - Mrs. Tyler quotes a figure of over 60,000 babies born there.
When the hospital finally closed in March 1985, the Maternity and research units were moved to Wexham; and a stained-glass window and alter rail from the Chapel went too. The site of the old hospital remains vacant planning applications for the construction of retirement homes were refused. Much of the foregoing information was also illustrated by photographic slides and Mrs. Tyler, ably assisted by her audience, identified many Eton Wick folk amongst the faces in the group photographs.
The History Group very much enjoyed Mrs. Tyler's talk and
the Group looked forward to its next meeting, on the 22nd of May 1996, when the Lock Keeper from Old Windsor talked about The History of The River Thames Middle Reaches.