At the outbreak of the First World War, the British Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem combined to form the Joint War Committee to pool resources under the protection of the red-cross emblem. Because the British Red Cross had secured buildings, equipment and staff, the organisation was able to set up temporary hospitals as soon as wounded men began to arrive from abroad.
Large numbers of public buildings (often large houses) were turned over for use as small hospitals. Brookdale Hospital in Alderley Edge and Alderley Park Hospital in Nether Alderley were two such hospitals.
The patients at these hospitals were generally less seriously wounded than at other hospitals and needed convalescence. The servicemen preferred the auxiliary hospitals to military hospitals because they were not so strict. Also, auxiliary hospitals were less crowded and the surroundings more homely.
Lady Mary Katherine Stanley was commandant of Alderley Park and Emily Fenton Armitage Hutton OBE was commandant of Brookdale. (a commandant was in charge except for medical and nursing services)