1914 – July 16th

The week is over and we leave here to-morrow for Teignmouth. It has been a marvellous week for both of us – such splendid happy Christianity, such a force and fervour, such gifted speakers, so many doubts resolved, so many problems helped in their solution. We have made many friends. At the Sports yesterday I had to make a speech and I was announced as “Stalky”, so to-day I have to spend all my time writing autographs. We have found nothing new here, but the realization of nearly all my ideals – happiness in religion, prayers with a smiling face – interdenominationalism – no Churches but one Church based on Christ before the Churches.

Yesterday we had an excursion, 400 of us through one of the Derbyshire Dales – the country is lovely. It has been a piece of good fortune that Agnes Giles should have been here with us and it is quaint to find her waiting on us at meals. It is nice, too, to have Muriel Harris here and see her in her true milieu. What immense good could be done if there were more of these Conferences and if people could only realise what a joy they are.

1914 – July 1st, 5th, 7th

July 1st

What a journey that was from Ryde! – so hot and the train so crowded and I got the sunny seat and we stopped everywhere. Reached here all right in the end in this beautiful old Christopher Wren house. Captain and the Hon. Mrs. A. Thorne – 3rd Grenadier Guards. It is extremely kind of them to put me up and mount me. My charger is a weight carrying polo pony “Sparrow” and is a good willing goer. Gen. Maxse commands the Brigade which is composed of Coldstream Gds, Scots Guards, Black Watch and Munster Fusiliers – a very keen and highly-trained lot. Yesterday the Maxim gun officer, Captain Payne-Gallwey of the Grenadier Guards, gave me 1½ hours exhibition of the Coldstream team and I have never seen anything better. The heat is awful and I am burnt to bits – shall really be quite glad when it is over. No news yet of Bay turning up to take me for a flight in his machine. Night operations last night. Rather stiff from riding, not been on a horse since January. 7.p.m. out on the range all day watching tactical competitions. Black Watch very good, also Coldstream Guards – Munster Fusiliers and Scot Guards very bad.

I am now numbered among those few individuals who have flown in the air! Bay* arrived and took me for a splendid flight all over the country about half an hour, sensation splendid, but you feel death at your elbow. No notion of sickness or giddiness. As I had implicit confidence in my pilot Hubert Harvey-Kelly*, my gallant nephew, it was just unalloyed pleasure to me. One of the eventful days of my life.

*Hubert Dunsterville Harvey-Kelly, son of Stalky’s sister Constance. Known as Bay. 

July 5th

Heckfield. Such peace and repose after turmoil in this sweet little spot. I arrived from Farnborough via Winchfield yesterday at lunch and found my beloved looking very well and happy. Triss, Henry and Lucy all cheerful. Friday was a really hard day for me and I was surprised myself that at nearly 50 I could do so much without tiring. I was up on Friday morning at 7.30 a.m. and left at 8.a.m., rode 10 miles to the 6th Brigade rendez-vous near Hankley Common – did the day’s work with the 1st Batt, 60th Rifles – raining windy and very cold, was wet through twice and dried again. From there rode 10 miles back in time for the 1st Brigade Rendez-vous at 4.30 p.m. west of Aldershot. Fought a retiring action with them till 9 p.m. I got a fresh pony at 4.30 thank goodness (and Thorne), marched by night the whole Brigade to Bisley. Lay down in the heather, rather cold and wet, from 11.30 to 1.30. Night march again, 6 miles to get the enemy’s flank. A great battle 6.30, then a pow-wow and ride home 6 miles, breakfast, bath and then to catch the train. I certainly enjoyed my bed and sleep last night. I have learnt a lot from the Guards’ Brigade as to how excellently things can be done.

[British Pathé video of British Army manoeuvres at Aldershot]

July 7th

We came to Kidlington from Heckford yesterday. Susanna [daughter, b 14 Jul 1911] has been very ill, but looks quite jolly now, has no appetite and will not put on weight.