Grey Lady to tell the story of the RNOH

Mary Wardell centre in 1914

A fascinating video project that will explore the history of the RNOH has been given the go-ahead thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Pegleg Productions has received a grant of £9,900 to produce Searching for the Grey Lady: A Ghost from WW1 at the RNOH.

Awarded through the Heritage Fund's First World War: then and now programme, Pegleg Productions will work with RNOH staff, clinicians, orthotic and prosthetic users, volunteers, and the wider RNOH community, to explore the founding and evolution of the hospital.

As the RNOH has recently completed the building of The Stanmore Building, another chapter in our long history begins. This project focuses on the RNOH’s WW1 heritage, exploring the hospital’s ghost known as the ‘Grey Lady’. She is believed to be Mary Wardell who purchased the Stanmore site in 1883 as the site for a scarlet fever isolation hospital and subsequently managed its evolution into a WW1 auxiliary military convalescent hospital. By July 1915 it had 56 beds for sick and wounded servicemen and was known variously as the Wardell Auxiliary Hospital or the Wardell Military Hospital.

Pegleg Productions will enable participants’ access to archives relating to Mary Wardell's WW1 Auxiliary and Military hospitals on the Stanmore site, with training for participants to research and document archives, including surviving WW1 era traces and objects. ‘Grey Lady’ ghosts are often associated with military hospitals and searching for Mary Wardell will reveal many fascinating narratives of WW1 at the RNOH.

Participants will be invited to document their explorations to represent their personal responses and to share their findings through social media and networks. Talks by historians, performances, events, and final presentations and film at the RNOH will celebrate and share this important RNOH history with the wider public.

Commenting on the award, Pegleg Productions’ project lead Nicola Lane said:

"We are thrilled to receive this support, which thanks to National Lottery players will enable us to reveal and share the RNOH’s WW1 legacy of rehabilitation and renewal from the perspective of people whose lives continue to be shaped by that heritage."

Pegleg Productions was established in 2011 by artist filmmaker Nicola Lane with the aim of discovering, producing, and creating projects with a 'different, difficult, and diverse point of view', with a focus on disability. In 2013 Pegleg Productions was funded by Big Lottery Awards4All to create THE FITTING ROOM film project, in collaboration with a group of eight women amputees from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital’s Prosthetics Rehabilitation Unit.

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