“Should it happen that everyone forgets me, I wouldn’t care… But I would not take it lightly should my Serbs forget me.”
~ Lady Paget
This International Women’s Day, we take a reflective look at Warren House’s history, richly steeped in the hard work of some amazing women; all of whom have played a pivotal role in establishing Warren House as the beautiful Kingston gem it now is.
Today, our spotlight falls on the warm-hearted and brave Lady Louise, Margaret Leila Wynmess Paget, known affectionately as Leila by those dearest to her. Lady Paget was the daughter of Sir Arthur Paget, an English General who made Warren House his family home in the Edwardian 1900’s.
Leila grew a particular fondness for Serbia and fell in love with its people during her stay in Belgrade during World War I. She was accompanying her husband who was the British representative in Serbia at the time, and displayed her humanitarian passion by dedicating herself to treating the wounded Serbian soldiers as a volunteer nurse.
Typhus was running rife through the military hospital Lady Paget was stationed within, and it was due to her fervent devotion to tending the afflicted soldiers that she too contracted this fearsome disease. Despite the disease’s aggression, Leila somehow managed to fight through the potentially fatal illness, recover and then continued to run the Skopje hospital.
So strong and fearless was Lady Paget that, despite pleas from her friends and family to leave when the Serbian army was forced to retreat, she refused and remained in Skopje, tending to the wounded until the last soldier was able to leave the military hospital.
After this, Lady Paget returned home to England and, when the war ended, her home became a meeting place for Serbian political refugees. Lady Paget was awarded the Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and the highest Serbian medal, the Order of St. Sava. In Serbia’s capital city, Belgrade, there is also a street on Dedinje that is named after this amazing woman to honour her memory.
We are so proud to have this brave, compassionate lady as part of our expansive history at Warren House. Please join us in raising a glass to Lady Paget today, and all the other brilliant women – both past and present – throughout the world.