Mary Collier, Lady Monkswell is a Victorian diarist and widow of the late Liberal politician 2nd Baron Monkswell. He had been Minister for War in 1905 and Mary who was in her late 60s by 1918 was extraordinarily well connected with a sharp eye and keen interest in current events. She writes with emotion and feeling - often before things are reported in the newspapers.
Lady Mary lived in Beaminster but spent a good part of the Summer of 1918 at the Guards House in Chideock where she witnessed a combined air and sea attack on a German U boat in Lyme Bay - a rare event for a civilian in England.
Mary is a woman who doesn’t go faint at the sight of German prisoners of war outside her home or a six foot grass snake a few feet away from her. She’s wrapped up with events of 1918 but writes warmly about family and friends, mixing in detail about the plants in the garden, picking currants, shelling peas and being the base in Beaminster for the Great Blackberry pick of 1918.