WWI Centenary Comes to Life This August

Marking the centenary of The Great War, “Valiant Hearts” demonstrates the roles played by the 11th Duke and Duchess, the Abbey and the people from the Estate and surrounding villages during the conflict. On the 9th-11th and 23rd-25th August, the exhibition will be brought to life by living history actors playing the parts of a WWI soldier and a nurse working at Woburn Military Hospital.

“Valiant Hearts: World War I – Woburn and its Stories” presents a number of unique narratives, giving visitors an insight into what life was like for people connected to the Woburn Estate. Within the exhibition, visitors can explore a recreation of the training garrison established and paid for by the 11th Duke, and read some of the poignant letters from commanding officers that meant His Grace was able to follow the progress of each of these local soldiers throughout the war.

Visitors will be able to discover more about the equipment, training and daily life of the soldiers by talking to a Tommy from the Front during the living history events.

The exhibition also explains how the 11th Duchess converted parts of Woburn Abbey to create one of the most advanced hospitals of the time. Visitors can find out how she, and hundreds of other women, treated wounded soldiers returning from the front. An extract from the 11th Duchess’ diary reads: “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.” Visitors can learn more about the hospital and Duchess Mary from the nurse on duty during the living history events.

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

The exhibition runs until the 28th September 2014 and the living history events take place on the 9th-11th and 23rd-25th August. 

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