Hart House HE
A photograph of Hart House School, a former country house, in 1898. (Historic England)

In January 1918 The Sphere published photographs of the Hart House V.A. Hospital at Burnham. It opened in January 1915 at The Gables, a property owned by Mr and Mrs Gerald Lysaght, with only 25 beds. This number doubled, and the hospital moved to larger facilities at Hart House. Three outdoor huts were provided in addition to the indoor accommodation. It claimed to be the first hospital in England to employ ‘Flavine’ (a yellow acridine dye, used as antiseptic in the treatment of wounds) and had processed some 993 soldiers through its doors.

The construction date of Hart House is unknown. It had once been owned by the Dod family, who owned Paradise Farm and acquired the nearby Manor House which they renamed Paradise House. In the 1880s it was owned by John Bolton Thwaites, JP, Chairman of the Local Board of health and local President of the Lifeboat Institution, who renamed it The Grove.

Following his death in 1892 the property, a family mansion standing in 6½ acres, was placed on the market and came to the attention of the Rev. Herbert John Ker Thompson of the Hart House School at Tregoney in Cornwall. The school had been established in 1861 but suffered a devastating fire in 1893. Instead of rebuilding the school it was decided to relocate nearer to a centre of population, hence the move to The Grove at Burnham.

A rare image of the old Hart House School at Tregoney in Cornwall.

The house was renamed Hart House School and operated as a boys’ prep school until 1911. The Rev. Thompson became Vicar of Pensford with Publow (until 1936) and Hart House remained empty. It was offered free of charge to the Red Cross in 1916. The hospital moved to these ‘spacious and well-wooded grounds’ over a few days and functioned until 1920. After it closed it was bought by Violet Waterhouse and Humphrey Thomas Logan who converted into the Manor Hotel that was still going by the late 1940s. It ended its days as a hotel and was eventually demolished, although the exact date is unknown.

Hart House V.A. Hospital. Some of the patients on the lawn. (The British Newspaper Archive)
Transferring a stretcher case from the Ambulance. (The British Newspaper Archive)
Nurses at Hart House V.A. Hospital. (The British Newspaper Archive)
An avenue of trees leading towards Hart House School in 1898. (Historic England)