Postcard of Libury Hall
Libury Hall in Great Munden was used as an internment camp during the First World War.
The outbreak of war inevitably saw people become hostile to foreigners and Germans living in Britain were seen as a threat. Many were sent to internment camps for the duration of the war, including Libury Hall in Great Munden.
On October 30th 1914 the Biggleswade Chronicle reported that
“An order has been issued by the Home Office to the police, instructing them to arrest all Germans, Austrians or Hungarians in their district of military age, and hand them over to the military authorities ... At Libury Hall (the German Farm Colony) a great number of arrests were made ...”
Before the war, Libury Hall had been converted by Baron Bruno Schröder, C A Bingal Esq., and Baron William Schröder to provide work and housing for unemployed Germen men. The home was largely self-sufficient and grew its own produce on its 300 acre estate. Several of its pre-war inhabitants were German reservists and so were designated as Prisoners of War and transferred to larger internment camps.
Not all the inhabitants of Libury Hall were strong enough to stand the conditions in the main internment camp on the Isle of Man and so, at the start of 1915, the Home Office identified “an urgent need for an institution for elderly, infirm and rheumatic men whose health is likely to be very seriously injured by detention in Military Camps” and Libury Hall was designated for this purpose.
The management remained in the hands of W. Müller, the pre-war director, who now acted under the supervision of a British Commandant, and a few police officers. By May 1915 there were 188 internees at the Hall who continued to grown their own food and operate on a self-sufficient basis as far as possible.