Hall holds First World War battle exhibition

Maps from the Battle of Loos that will be displayed at Gunby Hall
Maps from the Battle of Loos that will be displayed at Gunby Hall

A century after the first shots were fired a new exhbition about a First World War battle is set to open at Gunby Hall near Spilsby.

The exhbition is being launched at the hall next week to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Loos.

Last year Gunby staff made a thrilling a discovery of previously uncatalogued detailed maps and a plan of attack of the battle, which belonged to Field-Marshal Sir Archibald (Archie) Montgomery-Massingberd, who lived at Gunby from 1936 till his death in 1947.

The maps, which were badly damaged, were carefully restored and are now the centrepiece of an exhibition called ‘Battle lines: Archie and the Battle of Loos’, located in the upstairs sitting room of Gunby Hall, which will be open to visitors for the first time in its history.

At the time of the battle on September 25 1915, Archie was staff officer with IV Corps, whose task was the taking of the village of Loos and the immediate area. The battle was not the success the allied forces hoped for and there were many casualties without much gain.

The maps in the exhibition were used by then Brigadier-General Montgomery-Massingberd in a series of lectures given at various army headquarters across northern France a few months after the battle.

Sir Archie admits in his lecture that errors had been made, but justifies the decisions taken at the time as the best ones under the circumstances.

Gunby staff managed to track down a full transcript of the lecture; the original is held in the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King’s College London.

“It was so exciting to rediscover the maps, source the lecture transcript and to now share them with our visitors exactly 100 years after the battle took place,” said Andrew Lidster, conservation and collection manager.

“We hope many visitors will learn more about the Battle of Loos and Archie’s involvement. Furthermore, it is great to open another significant room in the house and show our visitors more of Gunby.”

The exhibition ‘Battle lines: Archie and the Battle of Loos’ will be launched at a private preview for guests, staff and volunteers on the 100th anniversary of the battle on Friday, September 25.

It will be open to visitors from September 26 until the end of the 2016 season. The maps will complement a permanent exhibition in the Gunby basement about Archie. Admission to the exhibition will be included in the regular entry to the house and is free for National Trust members.

Gunby Hall and Gardens is located on the A158 off the Gunby roundabout. The gardens are open daily and the house is open Saturday to Wednesday until November 1. For detailed opening times and admission prices call 01754 890102 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gunby-hall

Other upcoming events at Gunby are the annual Apple Day on October 11 and Hallowe’en opening on October 31.