There can be few women in the history of Petwood who have made as much impact on the building and its history than its former owner, Lady Grace Blundell Maple. The sole surviving heiress to Sir John Blundell Maple, the esteemed furniture maker, Lady Grace settled here in Woodhall Spa in the early 1900’s after falling in love with the plantation woodland which surrounds todays hotel and which she referred to as her ‘Pet Wood’. She had recently come from a painfully unhappy marriage and in what was a rarity for the time had divorced her husband, the German Baron von Eckhardstein. She set about creating a new life for herself here in the village and has certainly left her mark.
Creating her ‘modest bungalow’ along with its stunning Peto Gardens, she lived here with her second husband Sir Archibald Weigall integrating herself into the local community in a multitude of ways. Lady Weigall as she was now known was at the forefront of turning the Petwood into a convalescent hospital for soldiers returning from the front in World War One. She threw herself into nursing the soldiers who arrived at Petwood whilst at the same time expecting the birth of her daughter Priscilla. There are a number of photos in our Drawing Room showing the soldiers recuperating at Petwood and enjoying the fresh air in the gardens that many of us still enjoy to this day when the weather is suitable of course!
Lady Weigall was also a dedicated philanthropist giving many donations to local causes both financially and supporting physically hosting fetes and gatherings in the house and grounds and Petwood. She had a particular interest in the health and wellbeing of children, and we have a number of letters from descendants and relatives of those she helped paying for their hospital treatment in every corner of the country.
A strong advocate for the advancement of women in the world, Lady Weigall was also keen for her female staff to better themselves and therefore not be consigned to a life of service. During WWI she enabled her female staff to train as nurses so that once war was over, they could go into better paid jobs, a stark difference to many of the landed gentry’s attitude to their service staff at the time.
We can think of no better woman from the Petwood’s history to celebrate International Women’s’ Day.
The full story of Petwood and its remarkable founder Lady Grace Weigall can be read in our Petwood Guidebook, ‘Petwood, the remarkable story of a famous Lincolnshire Hotel’ which is available to purchase from our reception team for £7.50.