When war broke out 100 years ago, the owner of Morden Hall Park, Gilliat Edward Hatfeild, offered the Hall to the War Office for use as a military hospital. This year, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Attic Theatre Company brings the untold stories of the men and women who lived, worked and nursed at Morden Hall Park to life in Fields Unsown, a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Case Study: Corporal Ernest Welch

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None of Mott’s psychological injury cases was more celebrated than that of Corporal Ernest Welch, who regained his power of speech in a dream after being nursed for 11 months at Morden Hall Park.

Welch was born in Oldham. When war broke out he was married and living in Liverpool. He was already a serving member of the army in the Loyal Lancashire regiment, having enlisted in 1902, and left for France in August 1914 in the first wave of soldiers going out. He was badly wounded in an explosion in which he lost the use of his limbs at Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 where the Loyal Lancashire regiment fought alongside an Indian Regiment, the Garhwal Rifles. Welch was struck dumb from the trauma of his experience.

Though he gradually recovered the use of his limbs, Welch did not recover his power of speech. He was sent to Morden Hall in May 1915, and was simultaneously honourably discharged from the army. 11 months later, in June 1916, Welch awoke from a dream in which he believed he had recovered his power of speech – and found that he had! His story was reported across the world.

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