Aldershot,Hampshire,part of the History of the British Army.
Aldershot is part of the history of the British Army, but until the middle of the 19th century it was just a village. Since 1854, when the first barracks were built, it has grown into an enormous permanent military establishment and a busy civilian town.
Yet it emerged into military history as long ago as the reign of King Alfred (A.D. 831-901) who reputedly used a pre-Roman camp site in what is now the military training area, as a base when fighting the Danish invaders who had penetrated to Farnham. The great Wessex king bequeathed Aldershot to his nephew and King Edgar, shortly before his death in A.D. 976, gave Aldershot and the nearby village of Crondall to the monks of Winchester. Soon after the Dissolution, Henry VIII gave it to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral. The lands were seized by the Parliament in the Civil War but it was returned to Winchester at the Restoration.
For two centuries Aldershot manor belonged to the ancient Hampshire family of Tichborne and their manor-house, dating to 1070, stands in a park and is now the office of the Registrar. Near it is the parish Church (originally Norman) and memorials of the 1914-18 and 1939-45 wars in the Heroes’ Garden and Shrine, the latter portraying Christ stilling the storm, cut in stone from a block reputedly rejected by Sir Christopher Wren when building St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The Royal Garrison Church, containing laid-up Colours and relics of “battles long ago” is across the main road (A325) from Wellington Avenue, and between it and the Rushmoor Arena is a fine statue of the first Duke of Wellington on Copenhagen, his favourite charger which he rode at Waterloo. When the horse died in 1825 he was buried with full military honours.
A cupola surmounting a circular tower; on top of it a clock tower in turn surmounted by a steeple, the whole rising to 109ft. That imposing but somewhat bizarre manifestation of Victorian architectural grandeur is the eye-catching focal point of the Cambridge Military Hospital at Aldershot, which celebrates its centenary in 1979.
It was named after the Duke of Cambridge (1809-1904), grandson of King George III and Commander-in-Chief of the Army for nearly forty years from 1856.
Inside, the Hospital’s principal feature is the massive main ground floor corridor — 528 feet long and eleven feet wide – connecting the building from wing to wing through its central block.
This corridor has been known to create a ghostly optical illusion. At night the highly polished floor and the dim side lights can give a shimmering appearance, so the nurses, seen in the middle distance, look as though they are floating along, the movements of their lower legs and feet being unseen.
The Cambridge Hospital, however, claims a “real” ghost: an officer of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, popularly nicknamed “Sister Aggie”. She committed suicide by throwing herself from a balcony after giving, by mistake, a fatal overdose of a drug which had been prescribed for an officer patient. One version avers that the victim was her lover; if so, remorse would be even more bitter and her suicide more understandable.
Over the years both patients and members of staff claim to have seen her doing ward rounds. According to Colonel J. F. Webb’s recent history of the Hospital, her last recorded visit was in 1969, when she was seen by a night orderly sergeant.