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Beatrice Pole-Carew

(1876-1952) – Hosted convalescing soldiers

Estate letters from 1915 record injured soldiers from nearby Plymouth and Devonport hospitals staying at Antony House to convalesce. Lady Beatrice and her retired husband, Lieutenant General Sir Reginald Pole-Carew, were keen supporters of local causes. About eight soldiers at a time came to recuperate, although Antony was not an official convalescence home.

Credit: Antony House, near Torpoint (National Trust)

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Estate letters from 1915 record injured soldiers from nearby Plymouth and Devonport hospitals staying at Antony House to convalesce.  At this time Antony House was rather larger than at present, having been extended in 1905.  Although the Trerice-style Jacobethan extension (later demolished) was not really a success externally, it did house a billiard room and large public rooms for entertaining.

Lady Beatrice and her retired Army husband, Lieutenant General Sir Reginald Pole-Carew, were keen supporters of local causes.  They had married in 1901 and in 1914 Sir Reginald, then aged 65, offered support to Kitchener.  He was made Inspector-General of Territorial Forces in 1914-15.  About eight soldiers at a time came to recuperate at Antony, although the house was not an official convalescence home.  The War Office paid a small contribution of 2s 6d per soldier each day towards their board and lodging. 

One letter talks about a revolving shelter for the soldiers to use at Antony and mentioned that they also had one at Shanbally, Lady Beatrice’s home in Ireland.  The addressee of the letter (George Strawson) was a manufacturer of greenhouses and garden buildings, horticultural equipment and a unique rotating summer house. He supplied a summer house to Buckingham Palace.   Revolving summer houses were also sometimes used for tuberculosis patients as they could be turned to face the sun.                                                                                                                  

Lady Beatrice and an army of gardeners were responsible for the extensive Victorian gardens at Antony which comprised 27 separate beds within a formal walled garden, plus 400 yards of flower beds and herbaceous borders.  Much painted and photographed, one photographic portrait at the National Portrait Gallery dated 1911 depicts Lady Beatrice as Portia in ‘The Merchant of Venice’.  Lady Beatrice had four children, two sons and two daughters, and outlived her husband by many years.  She also saw the family name change from Pole-Carew to Carew-Pole in 1926.  This occurred two years after her husband’s death when her eldest son John inherited the ancient baronetcy of Pole of Shute, in Devon.  

Key words: women, nursing

Credit: Antony House (National Trust)