Edith Graves-Knyfton (1876-1964)
Edith Graves-Knyfton worked as Vice-President for the British Red Cross for Weston-super-Mare District
A Lady of Leisure
Edith Mary Alston was born in Oakhill in 1876. Her early years were spent with family or away at school in London. She married Reginald Graves-Knyfton in 1897.
Edith moved into Reginald’s family home Uphill Castle which she renamed Uphill Manor. They had two daughters, Marjorie and Joan. The Graves-Knyftons were the leading family in Uphill. Edith helped to run the family estate and support community life.
Sensing that war was likely Edith joined the British Red Cross and Reginald the Territorial Army. He was Captain of E Company, the 1/4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, known as the ‘Weston Rifles’ because they were recruited in Weston-super-Mare.
Mobilising the Troops
When war broke out Reginald was immediately sent abroad with his Battalion to fight in India and Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). Edith mobilised her Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses and set-up a temporary hospital at Ashcombe House to care for the returning wounded soldiers.
The hospital was supported by only a small government grant so all the equipment and supplies had to be provided voluntarily. Edith organised the local fundraising effort, encouraging people to donate money and useful items.
In recognition of her work with the Red Cross, Edith was presented with the Order of the Royal Red Cross in November 1917 and an OBE from King George V at Buckingham Palace in June 1918.
In March 1916, Reginald was shot through the ribs during fighting at the Battle of Kut-el-Amara in Mesopotamia. He was evacuated to hospital inIndiaand then sent home on sick leave. He returned to foreign service but caught pneumonia and died on 29 October 1918, just 13 days before the fighting ended. He was 45 years old.
A War Widow
Widowed by the war, Edith continued to run the family estate at Uphill, support village life and organise the work of the British Red Cross in North Somerset.
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, Edith trained British Red Cross volunteer nurses and cadets and led the fundraising effort.
When the war ended, Edith contributed to Uphill’s Welcome Home Fund for returning service men and women. She also helped set-up Uphill Victory Hall, designed as a memorial to all who served in the two World Wars.
Edith died on 21 December 1964 aged 88