In 1910 Mrs Mary Guthrie of East Haddon Hall founded the Ladies Linen League at Northampton General Hospital. They were a band of volunteers who met regularly to mend hospital bed linen, and to make bandages. When bed sheets became worn some of the material would be retrieved and made into pillow cases and bandages. As NGH was a “voluntary hospital” this saved on annual expenditure for these items.
The work of the League very soon expanded to making and mending articles of clothing for the patients, particularly those from the poorer classes. They were often admitted without suitable nightwear or warm clothing.
In the 1913 annual report it was recorded that the League had provided 2,253 articles of clothing. These included coats, jerseys, knitted suits and dresses, mittens, bed socks, and vests. Collections of second-hand clothing were made in the community to donate for this purpose.
In WW1 Mrs Guthrie established a “war hospital” for wounded soldiers at her family home, East Hadddon Hall with 24 beds. This would have been one of the many Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospital in the County.
Following her death in 1934 a plaque was unveiled in her memory, in recognition of her work running the Linen League. This plaque was originally located at the Billing Road entrance of the hospital, and is now displayed in the historical archive at NGH.
Manfield Orthopaedic Hospital in Northampton, which opened in 1925 established the same charitable work, under the name of “The Crippled Children’s Linen Guild”. They would carry out the same range of services as at NGH. There was also a great demand for outdoor clothing for the children, as a large part of their treatment regime was outdoors in fresh air, in all weathers.