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Stuart Memorial Hall Tempsford

Stuart Memorial Hall February 2016
Stuart Memorial Hall February 2016

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The entry for the Stuart Memorial Hall [HER 13491] tells us that it was built in 1924 by the Stuart family of Tempsford Hall as a war memorial to their only son William Esmé Montagu Stuart and fourteen other Tempsford men killed in the Great War.

Stuart was a Second Lieutenant in C Company, 6th Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment in 12th (Eastern) Division. He was killed on 7th October 1916 during the Battle of the Somme as his Regiment was attacking Bayonet Trench north-east of Beaucourt l’Abbaye and north-west of Gueudecourt. His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

The other men with village connections were as follows:

  • 2135 Gunner Joseph F Barlow, Royal Field Artillery who was killed in the early days of the Battle of the Somme on 8th July 1916 and is buried at Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, Mametz;
  • 131873 Sapper Frank Barnes of 276th Railway Company, Royal Engineers who died on 29th January 1918 and is buried Tempsford churchyard;
  • 20333 Private Thomas Bason of 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, killed on 10th February 1917 in the front line on the River Ancre and buried at Ancre British Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel;
  • 9793 Sergeant Frederick T L Darlow of 1st Battalion, Border Regiment who died on 28th July 1915 on Malta and buried in Pieta Military Cemetery on the island;
  • G/21971 Private Samuel Ezekiel Hardwick of 8th Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) who died of wounds on 7th April 1917 and is buried in Calais Southern Cemetery;
  • 26355 Lance Corporal Thomas Harris of 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, killed in action on 9th August 1916 in an attack near Bazentin-le-Petit on the Somme, he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial;
  • 73211 Private Lewis Alban Harvey of 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment), killed in action on 27th September 1916 on the Somme and buried at Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont;
  • 18625 Private Herbert Sidney Humphries of 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, killed on 24th March 1918 during the retreat before the German Spring Offensive, probably either at Golancourt or Esmery-Hallon; he is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial;
  • 20163 Corporal Frank Alfred Ibbitt of 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, who died of wounds on 9th February 1917 after seeing action on the Somme and buried in Varennes Military Cemetery;
  • William H Mason, perhaps 70548, Royal Garrison Artillery who died on 8th April 1919 and buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery;
  • 312071 Stoker First Class Frederick North of HMS Formidable, an old pre-dreadnought battleship, who died when the ship was sunk by a U-Boat on 1st January 1915 off Portland Bill, commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, 547 men of 780 crew died (the captain’s dog’s body was found and buried at nearby Abbotsbury Gardens)
  • Private Thomas Partridge;
  • 7986 Drummer Clarence Edward Wilson of Suffolk Regiment, who died of the effects of being gassed nearly a year after being discharged on 21st March 1918, he is buried in Tempsford churchyard;
  • 235266 Private Albert Wootton of 12th Battalion, Princess of Wales’ Own (Yorkshire Regiment) who died on 26th March 1918 and is buried in Étaples Military Cemetery

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the hall [DV1/C162/38] described it as a large hall with a stage and noted that there was also a ladies’ wing with a kitchen and a meeting room and men’s wing with a library and a billiard room. He commented:  “Mr/Mrs Stuart has given this hall to village. Very good in deed. Like the one at Tewin … The grounds are to be enlarged at a future date when tennis lawns will be laid. Wonderful place.”