Skip to main content

Genesta Mary Heath, Mrs Farquahar, Mrs Long, Lady Hamilton.

Born: 1899 and died 1990
Daughter of: Cuthbert Eden Heath (1859-1939) and Sarah Caroline Gore Heath (nee Gambier, 1859-1944).
Sister of:
Leopold Cuthbert Heath (1894-1966) who married: 1st in 1915 Alesta Macauslane (?-1975) 2nd in 1933 Margit Sonderaal (?-1979).

Genesta married: 
1st in 1919 Arthur "Tom" Farquhar (1894-1964),
2nd in 1924 E "Boy" Long,
3rd in 1946 Lord Claud Hamilton (1907-1968).

Genesta had issue:
1.Heather Eva Genesse Bullen (nee Farquhar, born 1920) who married Paul Gillespie Bullen.
2. Arthur Eden Callum Farquhar (1921-1993). Arthur did not have children.
3. Robert 'Robin' Long who married Elizabeth Lisa Leeke.

Heather and Paul Bullen had the following children:
1.Diana Beatrice Allegra McNeill Bullen. Born 27 Aug 1946, died 28 Aug 1946.
2.Fenella Hazel Bullen. Born 7 Mar 1948.
3.Michael Patrick Alistair Bullen. Born 22 Aug 1958.
4.James Gerard Bullen. Born 25 Jan 1960.

Robin and Elizabeth Long had the following children:
1. Ian Long.
2. Richard Britten-Long.

We have the following references to Genesta:
1. Entry in the book "Records of the Heath Family Vol 2" by George Heath, 1920.
2. Her autobiography "Stone's Throw" 1986.

She was also the author of a number of books as follows:
Fragments from Africa, 1937.
In the Wake of Da Gama, 1951.
Princes of Zinj, 1957.

Records of the Heath Family Vol 2, page 47, reads as follows:


The war started when I was 15, so that for the first two years I had to content myself with reading the papers and listening to the stories from the men who had been there. I longed to make munitions,, and to nurse the wounded heroes, still more to entertain them. But in the early autumn of 1916, my father opened Anstie Grange as an Officers' Hospital, and a couple of months later, I went down there to start work as a pantry-maid. I like to think of myself in uniform immensely, - all high-starched collar and high-starched cap, blue overall, white apron and sleeves, but no Red Cross, as we had passed no exams. For the first week I felt intensely noble and patriotic, &ldots;  late on, simply tired, and at last, alternately bored and pleased with the work. We had fairly long hours, 7 a.m. till 6p.m., and then blessed sleep again till 7 next morning. On alternate days we worked from 7 till 3 p.m., off duty till 6, and from the on till the last miserable coffee spoon was washed and stacked, and things put out for the night nurses, somewhere between 9.30 and 10 p.m.

We were six. Our chief was Mrs. Kenny, a very wonderful lady, for she came to the hospital when it was opened, and stayed to the very end, somewhere about Christmas time, 1918. She kept us in very good order. The other five were between 17 (that was my age, I was the youngest in the hospital), and 22. So we made friends and enemies, and worked hard and noisily, - singing in chorus most of the time, "so good for the men above us," though they bore it heroically, and fought many battles with the rest of the staff, and altogether were perfectly certain that the pantry was the only part of the hospital that counted at all, and the pantry-maids quite the most efficient workers. Our Commandant was my cousin, Mrs. Gore-Brown; she had already run the Hill Hospital at Farnham for "Tommies" for two years before taking on Anstie, and now her hospitals were the best to be found anywhere. Everyone loved the Commandant; I have known her ever since I can remember, so it was different for me, but the others did so, simply because they could not help it.

The Royal Red Cross, which she was the first member of the V.A.D. to receive, was not anything like good enough for her. We always said that she liked the pantry better than any other part of the hospital. She never gave us the slightest cause to believe so, but we were the youngest of the lot, and quite certain that we were the favourites!

At one time Anstie took in 63 patients, but later it was cut down to 47. We may not have been able to sing in tune, or make out a chart, or dress a wound, but we certainly could wash up. We used to wash and dry from 250 300 things, plates, cups, silver, tea and coffee pots, etc., in about two hours. It really takes a lot of doing . . . for you may get them clean and broken, or you may get them dirty and whole, but clean and all in one piece takes an expert care of hands. Three months on, and off was the regulation term of work. I usually got more than my allowance of holiday, but unless you were ill, it was made up at the other end, so you slept with a clear conscience o' nights. As a matter of fact, I personally slept like a log, whatever happened, for sometimes after a hard day's work, which meant that we were actually on our feet, and running about with laden trays for the 11 or 12 hours duty a day. I felt giddy and speechless with fatigue, and the thought of having to get out of bed at 6.15 next morning was nearly enough to make me curl up on the dining-room floor and sleep in all my clothes, hugging the broom that had to sweep the carpet next day! But the only time when I made a habit of that was on convoy nights. If a convoy was due at midnight, you could be almost certain of its arrival at about 2 a.m. so the brave ones went to bed, to crawl miserably down at 1.30, half-blind, quite dumb, and in the worst of tempers. But I and my pal used to go peacefully to sleep on the window-seats, padded all round, and wrapped up in the great thick velvet curtains.

A convoy arriving was always, to me, a very wonderful sight. The men came to us straight from the front, for Anstie was a first-line hospital. The lorries came over from Aldersfield, - it made a 15 mile drive there and back, just to bring the patients from Holmwood Station to the hospital, a distance of half-a-mile! and they were often driven by women. Half-an-hour before the train arrived, grey, silent beings, materialized out of thin air, and turned into V.T.C. men - stretcher bearers.

They gathered in front of the house and yawned piteously, (they all had hot cocoa and some food to cheer them up) then a purring up the drive, then those huge head lights, and the sudden appearance of our Commandant's figure in the doorway, very tall and slim, in red uniform with the long white veil reaching below her waist. A cloak over her shoulders blurred the outline, and she carried a lantern. Behind her was a group of the people who count; I mean a secretary, the doctor, the matron, sometimes a sister or two. The ambulance came round to the door, immediately the crowd of stretcher-bearers flocked to it, and the stretchers were drawn out, "very carefully and slow." It was wonderfully impressive to me, and the first time I saw it I wanted to weep, but it is nearly impossible to do that in a high stiff collar,, and any way there was not much time, so I gave it up, promising myself a real orgy of emotion when I got to bed. When I did get there, of course, I slept without moving, and at once. The men passed in at the front door with their burdens. After a few minutes, they reappeared through the smoking room window, and tossed a bundle of sorts off the stretcher, on to the side, before taking the next case. The bundle was "kit," but in the half light it looked rather awful. When the four or six patients were taken off, the ambulance moved round to the side, and the next one came up. The walking cases always arrived first of all in the hospital car, but they were not so picturesque as the stretchers. We flew round with trays, sending up the food to the new arrivals, and also taking car that the ambulance men had something to eat. Our own three orderlies always seemed to us such heroic figures at these times. When a convoy arrive they were of course at the porch helping to carry in the stretches, and never, never did I see one of our own three wearing a hat, whatever the weather, thereby proving that they were of the house and not mere outsiders from Aldershot. It might be pouring in sheets of rain, snowing, or hailing, but if it had pelted army caps they would not have covered their heads, it seemed to be a tradition.

Our orderlies were always splendid, and worked very hard (the reason was that those who did not were speedily replace, and they were always amusing.

We could work better on laughter even than on food. Of course it was they who looked after the kit as a rule, but on convoy nights everybody did just anything that came along, and I used to get head-aches with the strain of trying to think of some job for the moment that would keep me as far as possible from the kit. It had come from the trenches just as it was, and we always imagined it to be alive with hand-grenades, bombs and other things. I don't suppose for a moment it was! "There's the kit." "Oh heavens, keep away." was what one said, and it acted like an alarm bell.

We were very demure little pantry-maids; a statement which will be supported by the perusal of some of the rules posted up in our department.

1. -  No patient is allowed in the pantry under any conditions whatsoever.
2. - Officers are requested to wash and shave before breakfast.
3. - Officers must not retain their dressing-gowns downstairs after 10 a.m., except in the case of a Medical Board
4. - Officers are requested not to play tennis in pyjamas.

A list of rules came down every now and then from the W.O., but the edict relating to pyjamas and dressing gowns was our own invention, for the patients found this attire very cool and easy for tennis, and of course it saved a lot of trouble to saunter about all day in a dressing gown.

It did not, however, look very nice, and we were all glad when they went about dressed like ordinary Englishmen. The climax of joy came one night when two of the patients came down for dinner in mess-kit, dark blue, and very smart. It was a refreshing sight. The real festivities were at Christmas, 1916, when we had the first dance, and an enormous dinner. That dance was the first of many, and we had the greatest of fun. Sir Roger de Coverley and musical chairs took most of the time, besides games. We knew the patients of course, waiting on them in the dining-room, and taking them visitor's teas; also, since they saw very little of us, they thought we were much nicer than we really were, and the pantry enjoyed itself accordingly. Often we were quite miserable when it was our leave-time. We felt that we should be so lost without the work and the jolly "pallyness" off it all, and I used to wake regularly every morning at 6.15, and long to get up for the first week! Yes, we certainly were very, very happy in the pantry, among our six selves, and we enjoyed the friendships we made, - but the work was dirty and dull, to put it mildly. Nearly everybody moved out of the pantry after a bit, some to the wards, and some to different hospitals, and by the summer of 1917, Mrs Kenny was the only one left of the original lot with which we started. She was immovable, and I cannot imagine what we should have done without her.

The Commandant said that I could go over to the Hill Hospital for work there in the wards, and in the autumn, full of joy and enthusiasm, I went. Miss Gore Browne was also Commandant of the Hill Hospital, and a sister ran it in her absence. Sister Dunbabin was splendid, and managed the hospital wonderfully. We were a family party of 12, and had 63 patients. Tommies were a great contrast to officers. We had them from everywhere, and the stories they told us of scenes in France were vivid and thrilling. We got very fond of them, but it was a slack time during the winter of 1917-1918, and there were very few bad cases. Most of my time was spent in trying to find work to do where the men would not see me and take it out of my hands.

Christmas was the most glorious fun, with a huge tree covered with little presents, a terrific feed, with a concert to follow. Next day there were many casualties. Some of the men were years over age, and many were quite children. One lad was 16 when he reached us, with his second wound. I only saw one operation, a mild one, on a hand, and neither fainted, nor was ill. But work there was uneventful on the whole, and at last one leave-time at home, I got a poisoned arm from a tiny septic cut on my hand, which put a stop to any work for a long time.

At last I found myself back at Anstie Grange, but living at the farm on the hill, and filling in influenza gaps in the deal old pantry. We worked hard then. One after another went on the sick list, and at last we were two instead of six, with an extra for staff-room work, who came from the sewing-room, and knew nothing. "Being on" quite alone for an afternoon then was no dream of bliss, visitors came in flocks, just the same as before, and everyone wanted everything at once. For instance, while you were flying up the stair ahead of the ponderous lady who found them too steep, and hunting for the nurse, the front-door bell would ring twice and someone else came and said, "I am so sorry, but I have three visitors in Ward 8 who have to catch the 4.50 train, and want tea at once. I have just found them - they let themselves in." . . . Down to the door, up with a new visitor, back to fight with the bread and butter and cakes, . . .  it was a fight; and yet it was also great fun. Once I was showing a soldier visitor upstairs, and he said to me by way of conversation, "Awful place this for a hospital, What? I could think of nothing else to say but "It is rather a long way from the station." When I took him his tea I heard him ask his friend who I was, - and he must have been surprised to find that the "awful place" was my home.

People began to recover from the "flue," and to come shakily back to work, and when they had all returned, I left, because the doctor had said that I ought not to be in the hospitals at all, and the day after the Armistice was signed I went up to London - to mad, victorious, glorious, beflagged London.

Everyone knows what Armistice week was like, and anyway, it would be hopeless for me to attempt a description. After that I did no more work, and then our wonderful Commandant fell very dangerously ill with double pneumonia, and the hospital began slowly to empty. We had a last Christmas revel, with 10 patients, and about 15 of the 50 staff left. On December 27th the ambulances came and fetched away the last of them to the Cambridge Hospital. Anstie seemed like a huge, empty, dreary shell. It was one of the saddest, deadest things I have ever known (but I have not known much), and it seemed hopeless to try to get it back to its pre-war life. Now it is transformed again, but there are still the huts in the garden where the consumptive were, and that one on the balcony where the boy died. We only had two deaths in all the hundreds of patients, but we remember them. And that was all my war work.

DECEMBER 10th,  1919

The marriage took place on this date at St. Margaret's, Westminster, of Mr. Arthur McNeil Farquhar, late Royal Scots Grays, eldest son of Admiral Sir Arthur Farquhar, K.C.B., C.V.O., and Lady Farquhar, of Acheron, Aboyne, and Dangriannach, Oban, and Miss Genesta Mary Heath, only daughter of Mr and Mrs Cuthbert Heath, of Anstie Grange, The Holmwood, Surrey and 47, Portman Square.

The ceremony was performed by the Rev. A.G. Locke, Vicar of Carhampton, and the Rev. H. Nelson-Ward,Rector of Wicken, Stony Stratford, and the bride, who wore a gown of cream Georgette, with deep embroideries, and a train of Limerick lace, was given away by her father. Master Gore-Browne performed the duties of train-bearer, and there were six bridesmaids - Miss Irene Brooke, Miss Mary Fyers, Mis Cynthia Dease, Miss Sheila Cary, Miss Eileen Torr, and Miss Jean Farquhar. The bridesmaids were dressed alike in soft apricot satin, and they carried blue feather fans (the gift of the bridegroom). Captain Edward Blake was best man.


If you have any more information please do contact me.