Valiant Hearts: World War One - Woburn and its Stories

Image for Valiant Hearts: World War I - Woburn and its Stories The hospital at Woburn Abbey included a number of outside wards in the covered walkways

Valiant Hearts: World War I - Woburn and its Stories

Opens 11th April 2014

Marking the centenary of The Great War, this new exhibition demonstrates the roles played by the 11th Duke and Duchess, the Abbey and the people from the Estate and surrounding villages.

Valiant Hearts presents a number of unique stories, giving you an insight into what life was like for people connected to the Woburn Estate during World War I. Explore the training garrison established and funded by the 11th Duke and read some of the poignant letters from commanding officers that allowed His Grace to follow the progress of these local soldiers throughout the war.


Image for Valiant Hearts: World War I - Woburn and its Stories Mary, The Duchess of Bedford, in her nurses uniform

The Hospital

Discover how the 11th Duchess converted parts of Woburn Abbey in order to create one of the most advanced hospitals of the time. Find out how she, and hundreds of other women, put their nursing training to good use in treating wounded soldiers returning from the front. 

“This hospital began to receive patients on the 7th September 1914 and was closed as a military hospital on the 31st March 1920. The accommodation was for 120 beds. 2,453 serving soldiers passed through the hospital.” – An extract from the 11th Duchess’ diary.



O Valiant Hearts

A memorial stands in the nearby town of Ampthill, dedicated to all the soldiers who were trained at the Duke’s garrison and who subsequently lost their lives during the war. A verse from ‘O Valiant Hearts’ is inscribed on the memorial, and that is from where this exhibition has taken its name.

As you explore the exhibition, you will be able to examine a range of artefacts, photographs and archive materials which tell incredible and moving stories of men and women from the local area during WWI. At the end of the exhibition there will be a reflective space where visitors can pay their respects to the many soldiers who lost their lives whilst fighting for their country. 


Your Stories

If you know of somebody who was trained, treated or worked in one of the facilities connected to Woburn Abbey during the First World War, then we would like to hear from you. A member of our team will endeavour to get back to as soon as possible, however it is currently a busy time of year for our Archives and Curatorial departments and it may take up to 7 days. 

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