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Little known memorial to the fallen of the First World War nestled in a quiet corner of Newmarket is marking its centenary





Next month the people of Newmarket will gather at the town’s war memorial to pay their annual tribute to the dead of two world wars.

But afterwards, as they parade down the High Street and along The Avenue to Tattersalls for the traditional Service of Remembrance, how many of them will realise how close they pass to another, almost unknown, war memorial tucked away in a corner of a quiet street.

It will be 100 years ago on Wednesday that a new building in Cardigan Street, was declared open by Princess Mary, Viscountess Lascelles, sister of two kings, Edward VIII and George VI, as a home for the town’s district nurses and a ward for sick children and dedicated to the memory of the men who fought in the Great War, 1914 to 1918.

The Lodge in Cardigan Street in Newmarket, a formet a nurses’ home and children’s hospital opened 100 years ago as a memorial to the town's men who lost their lives in the First World War
The Lodge in Cardigan Street in Newmarket, a formet a nurses’ home and children’s hospital opened 100 years ago as a memorial to the town's men who lost their lives in the First World War

A committee of Newmarket’s great and good had discovered that, after the war memorials at Newmarket and Exning had been erected in the early 1920s, they were left with unspent funds.

It was decided to use the money to build the nurses’ home and to appeal for donations to add a children’s ward containing six cots and a surgery for the use of local doctors.

A programme for the royal opening on November 1, 1923 recorded: “The generosity of Major Dermot McCalmont MC in giving the freehold site for the Home is gratefully acknowledged by the Committee. This gift has enabled them to erect a building which will be of lasting benefit to our community and at the same time serve as an additional Memorial to all those who laid down their lives in the Great War, whose names are engraved on the Memorials already erected at Newmarket and Exning.”

Princess Mary, left, at the opening of the nurses' home on November 1, 1923
Princess Mary, left, at the opening of the nurses' home on November 1, 1923
The original commemorative plaque which is still in place today
The original commemorative plaque which is still in place today

The nurses’ home, ward and surgery were used to treat many mothers and babies for 50 years until the early 1970s when they became surplus to requirements and were sold at auction.

The property, now called The Lodge, was bought for £8,000 by Col Steven Alexander, a professor of mathematics at Maryland University and the University of Montpellier, who also headed the US Department of Defense Schools for Europe, and his wife Kathleen. Col Alexander died in 2007 but Mrs Alexander continues to enjoy living in the house which, she said, her husband had fallen for in 1973 and had been determined to buy and use as a base for their travels in Europe.