This week was my last at West Horsley Place, the highlight of which was delivering my talk for around 60 volunteers! I was amazed by the turn out and really grateful for everyone who attended. It was a real delight to share my research with some of the people who care most about West Horsley Place and the people who lived there. It was lovely to see everyone’s reactions to the evacuees’ stories and the discovery of the Canadian graffiti in the attic. It was also great to share my research on the Marchioness of Crewe’s wartime work, as her tireless commitment to the French in Great Britain Fund and other organisations that supported French refugees shone a new light on her life during those difficult years.

I would also like to thank the volunteers for aiding my research and completing so much significant groundwork on the history of the house. Their attention to detail, finding inscriptions in books, Canadian officers’ beds in the attic and the ages of the evacuated children, really brought my research to life. It was incredible to draw all their threads together and produce a talk that captured the history of the house year by year.

After completing the talk, I then transformed my research into history articles that tell the story of West Horsley Place during the Second World War. I tried to position the history of the house in the wider context, so that we can understand why the evacuees arrived and why they left, why the Canadian soldiers were stationed in a small village and why there were so many French refugees that needed the Marchioness’ assistance.

I have also developed a children’s activity plan which would help young children learn about the evacuees lives within the house and allow them to experience history in the place where it happened. There’s something really powerful about standing in the hall where the evacuees had their Christmas party and imagining the Christmas tree and fairy lights that would have decorated the room, and their shouts of joy as they played musical chairs. History is at its most powerful when the stories and space can be connected and brought to life.

This placement has allowed me to work with archival materials in a way that I haven’t before and has given me the opportunity to handle evacuees’ letters, the Marchioness of Crewe’s Legion of Honour certificate, and a highly significant report on the conditions within Ravensbruck concentration camp. This placement has also given me the opportunity to produce engaging outputs that can reach a variety of audiences, from the audio guide to the articles, to the children’s activity and the historical talk. It’s been a fast-paced, whirlwind of a month and I’m really grateful to the whole West Horsley Place team – and of course the late Bamber Gascoigne – for funding this incredible opportunity.