LAST week’s From the Archive featured Windlestone Hall, near Newton Aycliffe and Ferryhill. It is an 1830s stately home that has recently been sold for £1m and will now hopefully be rescued from decay.

In our outline of the hall’s history, we said that in its later life it had been a residential school for children with behavioural problems. And that was indeed its use from 1984 to 1998.

But before that, from 1958 to 1984, it was a residential school for 130 children with chronic health conditions, predominantly asthma.

“I’m originally from Jarrow, where my dad worked in the shipyards,” says Malcolm Miles from South Shields. “By the time I was nine in 1969, I was missing a lot of school because of my asthma.”

He was offered a place at Windlestone Hall.

“The decision was left to me and I took it,” says Malcolm. “There were doctors and nurses there, and when you were taken ill they would treat you on the premises and get you back into lessons.

“I left when I was 16. It was an absolute privilege to go there: excellent meals, excellent facilities, a great education, a great experience and I absolutely loved my time there.”

The Northern Echo:

Sir Anthony Eden – born at Windlestone

ON June 12, 1897, Lady Sybil Eden, wife of Sir William, gave birth at Windlestone Hall to a baby they called Anthony. He went to Eton and then joined the King’s Royal Rifles and served throughout the First World War, experiencing some of the most bitter fighting in the trenches of the western front. Memories 206 told of the letters he sent to the Darlington family of his “staunch and wise ally”, Private Reg Park.

Anthony, who, of course, became Prime Minister in the 1950s, was awarded a Military Cross in June 1917 for bravely rescuing his wounded sergeant while under fire, and on May 26, 1918, aged 20, he was promoted to brigade major – the youngest of that rank in the British army.

While Anthony had a good war, Tim Brown of the Ferryhill History Society writes to point out that the war inflicted great tragedy on the family.

Anthony’s eldest brother was John joined the 12th Royal Lancers in 1909 and served in India before being sent to northern France in 1914. He was involved in the retreat from Mons and in battles on the Marne and the Aisne before he was killed, aged 26, on October 9, 1914.

The second eldest brother, Timothy, was travelling in Germany when war broke out and was interned for a long period in Baden Baden.

And, on May 31, 1916, the youngest brother, Midshipman William Eden, was killed when HMS Indefatigable was sunk at the opening of the Battle of Jutland, off the Danish coast. Indefatigable exploded enormously after being hit by shells fired by the German battlecruiser Von Der Tann – the vessel which had infamously attacked Whitby and Scarborough during the East Coast Bombardment of December 16, 1914.

Of the 1,019 seamen on Indefatigable, only two survived. William was only 16.

The Northern Echo:

Elfrida Marjorie Eden, as a stylised First World War nurse

ANTHONY EDEN’S sister was Elfrida Marjorie Eden, born 1887, also at Windlestone. Memories has long been intrigued by her. She married Leopold Greville, the 6th Earl of Warwick, by whom she had three sons, who were born in 1911, 1913 and 1918.

The gap between the second and third sons could be accounted for by the story that during the First World War, with her husband and brothers all away fighting, she became a Red Cross nurse working on a hospital train at Ypres. Her stylised likeness, as an angel of mercy, is said to have been used as a propaganda image during the war.

Leopold, who had run away from Eton to join the Boer War in 1899, fought throughout the First World War, ending as a Brigadier General and reputedly acting as a spy in Russia. He returned to Elfrida at Warwick Castle and, following the birth of their third son, suffered increasingly from shellshock which turned into alcoholism. He eventually moved out of the castle to live with his mistress and died in 1928 aged 45.

IF Elfrida looks uncommonly beautiful, it could be that her mother, Lady Sybil Eden was a noted society beauty. She married Sir William of Windlestone Hall in 1886, and he was so proud of her good looks that in 1894 he commissioned the fashionable painter, James McNeil Whistler, to paint her portrait.

Whistler, though, was unhappy with the amount of money Sir William paid him and so kept the portrait – and the cheque. This resulted in a lengthy court case which the artist won. He was allowed allowed to keep the portrait as long as he made it unrecognisable.

CLICK HERE For the original Windlestone From the Archive article and pictures

Lady Sybil’s marriage was no happier than her daughter’s. Sir William flew into burning rages, often triggered by Lady Sybil’s impulsive generosity which nearly ruined the family’s finances. They lived the last 20 years apart – Sir William died exactly 100 years ago – which enabled Lady Sybil to indulge her infatuation with the Conservative politician, George Wyndham, who some claim was Anthony Eden’s real father.