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A history of the Farnborough Court Red Cross hospital in Hampshire


During WWI, surgeon Lawrie Hugh McGavin worked at both the Michie Hospital and the Farnborough Court Auxiliary Hospital. We searched for the history of Farnborough Court but found very little information on the Internet.

However, here is what we have found, telling the story of some of the people who lived there and nearby. Please get in touch if you, or your society, have information or photos which could be added to this page.

Farnborough Court was one of many large houses in Farnborough, Hampshire, UK.

During WWI the house became a Red Cross Auxiliary hospital looking after wounded soldiers.

During WWII Farnborough Court was requisitioned by the Air Ministry for the RAF (see note below). It was not far from the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough where a relative, Alexander Forbes, worked in the Radio Department.

After WWII, the property was occupied by Benedictine monks and it seems likely they may have owned the building before the war.

Eventually the house fell into disrepair and was demolished to make way for a housing development.

George Henry Elliott (1813 - 1892)

The census returns suggest that Farnborough Court, next to the vicarage in Recory Road, was earlier known as Farnborough Park.

In 1861 Farnborough Park was occupied by George Henry Elliott born about 1813 Binfield, Berkshire, Captain Hampshire Yeomanry, his wife Ellen and eight servants. According to Burkes Peerage he had been in 2nd Dragoon Guards.

Possibly George was the son of a Newbury born master cabinet maker also named George Henry Elliott who had married Mary Josephine Hay.

Ellen's maiden name was Palmer-Morewood and she was the daughter of William Palmer (of Ladbroke Hall and later Alfreton Hall) and Clara Blois daughter of Sir Charles Blois 6th Baronet of Cockfield Hall, Yoxford, Suffolk.

In 1825 Ellen's parents had changer their surname from Palmer to Palmer-Morewood.

In 1844 in Derbyshire George Henry Elliott had married Ellen Palmer - Morewood, possibly providing him with the means to buy Farnborough Court.

The census records George and Ellen continuing to liver at Farnborough Park in 1871, 1881 and 1891 when he was Justice of the Peace for Hampshire and they had nine servants.

Their only son George Henry Blois Elliott was born in 1854 at the time of the Crimean War, and in 1894 he married Juliane Helene Annette Berg who was born Russia about1853.

Occupants in 1901

In 1901 Farnborough Court was occupied by widowed Mabel Francis Elizabeth Ogilvy, Countess of Airlie, her children, two visitors and thirteen servants. She was the eldest daughter of Arthur Gore, Viscount Sudley.

Her husband, David Ogilvy, 11th Earl of Airlie, an army officer, had been killed in 1900 during the Second Boer War at the battle of Diamond Hill.

After her husband's death Mabel became a lady in waiting to Queen Mary.

During World War I Mabel supported the Red Cross and was president of Queen Alexandra's Army Nursing Board.

Sadly her youngest son Patrick was killed in 1917 and her daughter Mabel died exercising army horses in 1918.

Occupants in 1911

In 1911 Farnborough Court was occupied by newly married Jane Byrnes O'Malley, her baby son Hamilton and ten servants.

Her husband, Irish born army officer Lieutenant Middleton Joseph Keyes O'Malley, Royal Field Artillery, was away from home at Okehampton Camp in Devon.

Hamilton joined the Irish Guards and married (first) in 1941 Lady Iris Mountbatten. They were divorced in 1946.

Farnborough Court may have had links with the army through being situated near Sandhurst and Aldershot.

Those that lived there in 1901 and 1911 had family links to Mayo in Ireland.

St Michael's Abbey

After WWII Farnborough Court, then a large mansion standing in over 12 acres near St Michael's Abbey, was reaquired by Benedictine monks as a retreat.

St Michael's Abbey church built about 1881 was funded by the Empress Eugenie widow of Napolean III. The couple had sought exile in England after France lost the war of 1870 with Germany.

Samuel Franklin Cody

In October 1908, Farnborough was the site of Britain's first powered flight by an American, Samuel Franklin Cody. He was killed in a flying accident in 1913. The Cody Technology Park at Farnborough is named after him.

The exploits of Samuel Cody inspired a young Reginald Joseph Mitchell (1895 - 1937) to become an engineer and join the Supermarine Aviation Works Ltd at Woolston in Southampton in 1917. At Supermarine he designed flying boats, racing seaplanes and the prototype of the Spitfire. Structures of his racing seaplanes, which won the Schneider Trophy for Great Britain, were tested for drag in a wind tunnel at Farnborough. Mitchell is buried in South Stoneham cemetery.

The image below shows a flying boat taking off from Southampton water in the 1930s (captured from cine film).

Flying boat 1930s


The Defence of the Realm Act  (DORA) 1914 gave the British government powers to requisition land and buildings for the war effort.

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