Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital Plaque

Date / Period
1915
Place
Ottawa
Object Type
Military
Topics
International Humanitarianism and Presence Women of the Canadian Red Cross

This plaque once hung proudly on the wall of a hospital near Taplow, England. It honoured Canadians’ contributions to healing sick and wounded soldiers during the First World War (1914-18), as represented by the military hospital erected on that site by the Canadian Red Cross. The plaque probably found its way back to Canada when the original buildings were replaced by a new hospital during the Second World War (1939-45).

During the First World War the British and Canadian governments gladly accepted donations of medical supplies, equipment, personnel, and facilities from individuals and organizations, as much-needed supplements to their own provisions. Hundreds of private homes were loaned by wealthy Britons, including the Astor family, who offered the Canadian Red Cross part of their grand country estate, Cliveden, for use as a hospital. The Red Cross converted the indoor tennis court, and later built additional temporary pavilion wards, to house convalescing troops from throughout the British Empire.

Based on this positive experience, the Astors renewed their offer to the society in the Second World War. This time the Red Cross built a state-of-the-art brick and concrete hospital on the same site, known simply as Taplow Hospital, or Cliveden Hospital. After the war, the hospital was donated to Britain’s National Health Service, and saw many decades of peacetime civilian service as the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital.

Although also known as Taplow or Cliveden, the First World War hospital (as this plaque shows) was officially named the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital. The Duchess (Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia) was the wartime President of the society, and wife of Queen Victoria’s third son, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, the society’s patron. The Duke was the first member of the British Royal Family to serve as Canadian Governor General, and it was considered a great honour to have him and his wife affiliated with the Canadian Red Cross.

The First World War Duchess of Connaught hospital was one of several large hospitals and smaller rest homes provided by the Canadian Red Cross in Britain and France. During the Second World War, however, the Canadian government preferred to run all of its own facilities: once the new Cliveden hospital was built the society immediately turned it over to the government. During both wars medical staff considered Cliveden a very desirable place to work, thanks to the hospitals’ modern facilities and beautiful setting.

Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital Plaque

Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital Plaque
Original plaque that hung on the wall of the First World War Canadian Red Cross hospital near Taplow, England.
Taplow Hospital
Taplow hospital staff and patient in a ward, ca. 1915.
Taplow Hospital
Staff accommodation at Taplow Lodge, near Taplow Hospital.