Searching for the Grey Lady:
A Ghost from WW1 at the RNOH
In June 2019 the National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded Pegleg Productions £9,900 through a First World War 'Then and Now' grant for Searching for the Grey Lady: A Ghost from WW1 at the RNOH, to mark the First World War Centenary at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, Middlesex.
Thanks to National Lottery players this support enables us to reveal and share the RNOH’s First World War legacy of rehabilitation and renewal from the perspective of people whose lives continue to be shaped by that heritage.
Pegleg Productions proposed exploring the founding and evolution of this world-renowned orthopaedic hospital, beginning with the hospital's ghost - known as the 'Grey Lady'. Some believed her to be Mary Wardell, who in 1883 purchased the Stanmore site for a scarlet fever convalescent hospital, which subsequently became a First World War auxiliary military convalescent hospital.
‘Grey Lady’ ghosts are often associated with military hospitals, and the project proposed revealing First World War era narratives at the RNOH, enabling participants’ access to archives and heritage research; including filming and documentation of surviving First World War era traces and objects on the Stanmore site and exploring the training of disabled ex servicemen and civilian patients as technicians for Prosthetics and Orthotics.
Check out Imperial War Museum's 'Mapping the Centenary':
Gateways To The First World War Community Heritage Researcher Dr Sam Carroll worked with Pegleg Production's Nicola Lane to help develop this project. For more information go to:https://www.gatewaysfww.org.uk/projects/searching-grey-lady-ghost-ww-rnoh
COVID-19 and LOCKDOWN
With the arrival of Covid-19 and its traumatic effect on all our lives, Pegleg Productions had to stop all contact with participants and stop filming on the RNOH site. The RNOH was transformed into a London Orthopaedic Trauma Centre treating patients of all ages, regardless of COVID status - yet another chapter in its long history of evolution in response to national crisis and challenge.
In response to Lockdown, Pegleg Productions re-purposed 'Searching for the Grey Lady' by creating a podcast series developed in creative collaboration with the RNOH hospital radio Radio Brockley, to share the remarkable story of the RNOH through an atmospheric audio narrative utilising the archives discovered during our explorations at the RNOH. The RNOH invited the whole spectrum of those involved with the hospital to take part in the creation of the podcast by reading excerpts from the archives and recording their readings at home on their phone.
Pegleg Productions was contacted by both current and former patients, volunteers, nurses, staff and consultants, who wanted to support the project and express their gratitude and affection for the Hospital during the challenging times of COVID 19.
Holly Bullen's article in December's Stanmore News:
Radio Brockley's longest serving members Ron Laver, interviews Nicola Lane about the project:
Bridget Galton's article about the search for the 'Grey Lady' in the Hampstead and Highgate Express:
RNOH 'Articulate' magazine, which includes important stories from the Covid frontline and an excellent article about Searching for the Grey Lady project: