The Mortons entertained quite frequently at Agecroft Hall, as evidenced by the guest book now displayed in the Williams Library. This red leather-bound book boasts an impressive list of guests ranging from popular musicians to service members.
Dr. Morton, Bessie’s second husband, worked at McGuire General Hospital in Richmond during World War II. Dr. and Mrs. Morton invited service members over for entertainments throughout the year and especially at Christmastime. The service members ranged from enlisted Privates to Colonels and other ranking officers and they served in the US Army, the US Air Force, the US Navy, the US Marine Corps and the Reserves. Service members from overseas were also invited to Agecroft including members of the Canadian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Australian Army and the British Royal Navy. Christmas Eve festivities in 1942 included forty-seven guests, all service members and their spouses.
Guests to Agecroft Hall during this 25 year period hailed from thirty-five different states, Washington D.C. and seven countries—France, Switzerland, England, Australia, Canada, Brazil, and Scotland. Many guests wrote more than just their names and hometowns in this record--some guests left funny jokes, some which no longer make sense, but sound like Agecroft was a fun place. For example: “for the dance marathon of gold fish Agecroft is the place to be” (1945) and “I have to be disloyal, but Agecroft is much more cozy and charming than my tent in Co. B. 10th QMTR” (1943). Others left touching descriptions of their impressions of the houses: “it almost took my breath away” (1944), “what a thrill to be back at beautiful Agecroft” (1948), and “old houses have a soul—if Agecroft Hall left its old soul in England, it has gained a new one, a warm one, the incomparable charm of old Southern hospitality and graciousness in a shell of old-world beauty” (1950). And, finally, there were the guests who had known Agecroft in its previous life in England: “A Salfordian exile in resident in Canada, who re-visits ‘Agecroft Hall’ in its new environment in the ‘Old Dominion’…knew Agecroft intimately in the days of his childhood and youthful years” (1946), “born within a mile of Agecroft in Lancashire—I remember the auction and packing of Agecroft Hall” (1947), and “ thrilled to again see Agecroft after such a long absence. I must confess it has now a better setting than it ever had. I miss the layer of soot that graced the roof slabs of former years” (1955).
As the years passed, the names changed, as friends and family fluttered in and out of Agecroft Hall. As keepers of Agecroft Hall, we are lucky to have this record of guests that came to visit. Come visit Agecroft Hall—you’re in good company!