At the outbreak of war in 1939 Shardeloes, the family home of the Tyrwhitt-Drakes, was requisitioned as a maternity hospital to provide mothers, mainly from the south and east of London, a safe place to deliver their babies away from the danger of bombing raids. Over 5,000 babies were born there up until its closure in 1948.

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Shardeloes Babies
A postcard featuring Shardeloes Mansion, Amersham in use as a maternity hospital

 

Valerie Adams (née Guiver)

Born July 1946.  “Dad came home from serving overseas at the end of the war, the year before I was born. I believe that my mother had high blood pressure and was sent out of London to rest before I was born. I remember my parents and older sisters talking about visiting my mother at Shardeloes.”

“I would have enjoyed coming to the tea party but living in Australia ruled this out. I’ve always been interested in the place I was born and wondered about the other children who were born there, so it’s of real interest to me. I’ve never visited Amersham or Shardeloes but have seen the exterior in various TV programmes and have also looked it up online. What a wonderful house; so glad that it wasn’t demolished.    My parents were 37 when I was born and my sisters 11 and 8. My family lived in Bethnal Green but moved to Chingford when I was 9 months old and I was brought up there. In 1971 I married a New Zealander who was backpacking around Europe and in 1972 I left for NZ. We lived there for 18 years before coming to Australia in 1990, mainly because of my husband’s job in the mines. Now retired we live in a small coastal village near Noosa in Queensland.”

 

Peter William Anderson

Born Novemeber 1943. “My mother was from Eire and my father was from Workington. Cumbria. We lived at Grays Inn Road, London until I was 4 years old then moved into a new flat in Chenies Street.”

 

Maurice Appleby

Born June 1946. “My mother was born at 124 High Street Amersham in 1912 and lived there until her passing away in 2007. My father was born in County Durham and came to Amersham in the 1930s.  I lived with my parents until moving away when I was 21.”

 

Barbara Aris

Born July or August 1947.  Mother, Rowena, was a local resident taken to Shardeloes with eclampsia in summer of 1947, but her daughter Barbara died. “… it was all lady doctors and specialists but in my case they did have to call in a male doctor from London as the lady specialist was on holiday.”

 

Gillian Arrowsmith (née Neill)

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Gillian with her mother in 1941
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Gillian with husband and 3 children

Born November 1940. “Father an audit clerk in Chartridge and I believe my mother was evacuated and I was born at Shardeloes.”

 

 

 

Maureen Bailey (née Reed)

Born June 1942. “Father serving in Army.  Mother Scottish came down from Glasgow to stay with father’s parents for the birth then went back.  Returned to Chesham at end of the war.”

 

Peter Bailey

Born August 1940

 

John Anthony Baker

Born February 1944. “My mother was evacuated to the house before I was born during the V2 bombing of London. I was born at Shardeloes sometime after. I do not have a lot of detail around how long she and I were there.”

 

Terrence Baker

Terry Baker 1 (ah002)
Terry aged about 2, with his Dad Joe and Mum Edith
Terry Baker 2 (ah003)
Terry now

Born November 1944. Parents lived in Kennington and were “evacuated out of London in 1944 due to bombing.”

 

 

 

 

 

Edmund Alan Barber

Born February 1941.  Now a retired Mechanical Engineer living in Spain.

 

Pauline Christina Barrett (née Jones)

Born December 1942 to parents James Charles Cleobury and Ellen Jones of Bromley, Kent. My Mum was working in a factory , then went to have me at Shardeloes. My sister who was 8 years old was evacuated elsewhere. My father was in the Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment, was in Burma. He died 30th April 1945. So sadly I can’t remember him. My Mum always told me that I was born in Drakes Castle. Pauline is married and has 5 children, 16 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren, now living in Kent.

 

Peter Bates

Born June 1946, mother was Joan Bates of Islington, London. Now living in Chingford.

 

John Bawden

Gladys Bawden with baby John Frank Bawden
Wedding photo of Gladys and Frank Bawden

Born May 1943. “My Mother and Father were living at 524 Hertford Road Lower Edmonton N9 after being married. My mother was pregnant when Dad was sent overseas with the Royal Artillery during WW11 and he spent two years fighting in campaigns from Africa, Syria, and was at the liberation of Italy. My mother was sent to Shardeloes, for her confinement. And I was born on the 9th of May, 1943. We were then sent on to Wakefield for a time and then were able to return to Hertford Road. In 1946 my Sister, June, was born and in 1949 my sister Janet was born and in 1953 we moved to 159 Sandhurst Road Edmonton. My two sisters and I went to the Cuckoo Hall Lane School. Leaving school I started working in the Railway and I was working on the steam trains. This time gave me a lifelong fascination with steam trains.

John Bawden in front of white ant nest, Northern Territory
John Bawden’s name on the Welcome Wall at Fremantle Museum, WA

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1966 I migrated to Australia, arriving in Fremantle on the Ellinis. It only cost ten pounds and consequently I became “a ten pound pom”.  Fremantle Maritime Museum, located on the Fremantle Port, built a Welcome Wall for all migrants that entered Australia via the Fremantle Port, my name is on the wall. I travelled to Bunbury and started working at La Porte in Australind WA. I married in 1970 and with my wife Lesley we had two sons. In 1992 I took my wife and sons to the UK and drove to Amersham to show them the “big house” I was born in. We have had five trips to the UK over the years and four trips to New Zealand and now that we are retired we are travelling around Australia as much as we can, taking two holidays per year.”

 

Jennifer Bate (née Blower)

Born November 1943.  “My mother was in service at a big house in Norwood High Street, West Norwood SE27.  I was adopted as a babe at ten days and my family were wonderful.  We lived in West Norwood until my twenties.  I visited Shardeloes in 1990 with my husband and children, we just drove in and were overwhelmed by its beauty and grandeur as we didn’t know what to expect.  My parents and family who adopted me were wonderful. I couldn’t have had a better or happier or more loved chance in life but finding the place of my birth gave me some roots and a feeling of pride.”

 

 

Michael Beach

Beach 3

Beach 2Born November 1940. My parents were evacuated to Amersham in 1939/40. We lived in a bungalow called North View, Woodside Road, Amersham.  My mother had a dress shop nearby, I believe it was called Lillians. My brother was also born at Shardeloes in 1943.

My father used to travel to London during the week. He used to walk past a shop which had a working train set in the window of one of the shops. He eventually bought it but forgot the bungalow did not have any electricity. I still have it to this day. In 1947/8 we moved back to Cricklewood, North West London

I got married in 1967 and we had two gorgeous girls Michelle and Gemma. I had my own business for about 30 years.  Then tragedy struck: our younger daughter passed away in 2000 and my wife in 2008. In April this year I suffered a heart attack.

 

Evelyn Doreen Beaton (née Punnett)

Born August 1941 to parents Joseph and Jessie Violet Punnett. I am a twin, my twin sister was Ann Elizabeth. I was told she was born 20 minutes before me. I was born at 3.40am from what is recorded on my birth certificate. 
My father was a Constable Police War Reserve (Mechanical Engineer) of 85 (14). We lived in Barkworth Road, Bermondsey but show’s as Camberwell on the birth certificate. My mum, Jessie said because due twins she was sent to Amersham to give birth. Now living in Rochester, Kent.

 

Penny Beattie (née Beal)

Born 1944. Now living in Bristol. “My mother was in London having left the ATS. My father was in the Royal Marines. My mother is 97 now but if I can get any information from her I will let you know. She told me there was no glass in the windows because of the danger of bombing, but no one else mentions that! I know I was born with my tongue attached to the roof of my mouth which prevented my feeding. A cousin of my mother who was a doctor, realised and rectified the situation. I am not sure how long it was before my father knew of my birth as he was away in (I think) the Mediterranean.”

 

Mr J K Bedwell

Born November 1944.  “My Mother was evacuated from London to escape the Doodlebugs, sadly both my parents have died so no more information available.”

 

Colleen Betteridge (née Haley)

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Colleen with her mum in 1941
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Colleen now
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Colleen with her Mum & Dad at Southend in 1953

Born September 1940.  “Parents lived in Barking, Essex. My mother went to the country to have me and to be away from the bombs. My Father had an uncle that owned a pub in or near Amersham. Father stayed at Rose Cottage when he visited my Mother from Barking. When I was little, my parents often told me about the big house that I was born in. My Dad said he would take me there one day. When I was about 8 years old, that one day came, and we drove to Shardeloes. I remember my Dad driving right up to the front door so that I could get a good look at the place (we didn’t go inside). I was really impressed! I emigrated to USA in 1962 with my husband. In 1984 we took a trip to Buckinghamshire (staying at The Jordans). We went and visited Shardeloes and realized what a beautiful area it was (there were sheep on the front lawn as I remember). My Mum told me that when she was there a bomb dropped close by and as they were on the upper floor of the house, they had to run down all the stairs to go down for safety to the cellar. She hadn’t had me yet, so that must have been quite a site with all the mothers-to-be running down the stairs. Especially as they were there to escape the bombs!!”

 

Angie Bierne (née Piper)

“Memories of Shardeloes from my mother. Her name was Muriel Piper and I was born on the 26th July 1944 and also named Muriel Piper but later this was changed to Angela. I remember her telling me what a marvellous house it was, the staircase being huge and very fancy and how after I was born she was moved out to the stables which had been converted into Mother & Baby rooms. My Aunt (her sister) told me she made the journey to visit my mum by train with her mother (my gran) and it took all day to get there the walk from the village being miles.

I first went to Shardeloes on my 15th birthday, again when I was 21 when it went up for sale and again when I was 50, not realising on my 50th I could have gone in and had a look around.”

 

Thomas Bird

Born January 1947.  “I went to a school on Tower Bridge Rd, near the southern side of the river. We emigrated to Oz in 1957.”

 

John Michael Blears

Born June 1947. His mother, Pauline, was in the Air Force but demobbed in 1945 when she married. She remembers being sent to an ante-natal house where she helped to prepare vegetables and washing up. Pauline was moved to Shardeloes when pains started and in an upstairs ward remembers waking up to see a mouse on her bedside table cleaning his whiskers. She remembers it being very hot and walking around in her cami-knickers!

 

Michael John Boxhall

Born December 1943. “Father was head gardener for a nursing home (Fenstanton Ltd.), which had evacuated from South London in 1939. Several properties were taken on in the Little Chalfont area. The nursing home relocated to Burnham in 1947, but eventually ceased business in 1963. Parents married in Amersham in November 1939.”

 

Linda Bradley (née Chipping)

Rose Chipping
Rose Chipping and Me
James Chipping
James Chipping

To parents James Alfred Chipping and Rose Chipping (née Russell) of London. I remember mum telling me that dad walked across a field wearing his army uniform. Now living in Cyprus.

I was introduced to a friend of my brother in law’s 35+ years ago whom I really bonded with. When I divorced she introduced me to her boss who I later married and we are still very happy after 35 years. About 20 years ago we were talking when the subject of Amersham came up. We both said simultaneously ‘ I was born at Shardeloes’. It’s hard to imagine such a coincidence.

 

Alan Breese

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Alan as a baby and with his parents

Born January 1948, the last baby to be born before the hospital closed.  From a local family in Chesham. Father, James, lost half a hand in the war and was treated at Stoke Mandeville.

 

 

Maureen Bristow (née Norris)

Born Janury 1942. Mother was brought up in Ealing and father was brought up in Brentford.  During the Blitz mother evacuated to Amersham from London. She has a letter written by her father on 20th March 1942 which reports: “Baby was weighed again today and she has put on another 25 ozs.  She now weighs 10½ lbs net. Tell Sylvia that she has Cod Liver Oil and Blackcurrent juice as Iris has been unable to obtain orange juice or any oranges.”  There is a fascinating P.S. “The King came to Amersham today as it is War Weapons Week.  He visited the camp in [illegible] St.  None of us saw anything of him. We did not hear of it until it was too late.  I went on Church on Sunday with the Home Guards and ARP. Good wasn’t I?”     Maureen has recounted three of her mother’s memories of the time:

• It was a bitterly cold January with just one fire at the end of a very large room being the only form of heating for the mothers and babies.
• Babies in their cots were put out onto the veranda for fresh air, even when it was snowing.
• Mice could be heard scurrying about in bedside lockers.

 

Pamela Brooks (née Harrison)

Born June 1941. “My father was in the army and was working on an airfield, I think somewhere in Buckinghamshire, before being sent overseas. Previous to this they had been living in Dagenham, Essex. I have Shardeloes on my birth certificate. My mother took my older brother and myself back to live in Dagenham some time after my birth. My mother went to work at Briggs Motor Bodies helping to build tanks for the army. After my father was invalided out of the army he went to work in the Royal Albert Docks.”  Now living in Australia.

 

Edna Barbara Brooks (née Bunn) 

Edna(left) and Carol Bunn
Edna(left) and Carol Bunn

Born October 1940. “My late twin sister (Carol) was born some 10 minutes earlier than me, but died at the age of 9 months. I’m not sure whether scans took place in those days but it seems I was unexpected as Carol got the chosen name and I was named after the midwife who delivered us!  My parents lived in Westminster, London. My mother was moved to Amersham as a place of safety for the birth but returned to Westminster soon after. Father was overseas in the army.”

 

Carol Sheila Bunn

Born October 1940.  Died 9 months later.  Cause of death meningitis. (See entry for her sister Edna Brooks above.)

 

John Broom

Born September 1944.  “My father was in a reserved occupation working at The Daily Mirror.  My Mother and my sister (7 years older than me) were evacuated to a house/family in Chesham.”

 

Norma Capel (née Daniel)

Born August 1945.  Parents were living in Catford SE6.

 

Brenda Carter (née Dawe)

Born November 1943. “I believe first year of my life was spent in Scotland. I think we went back to London first. I’m told I had double pneumonia which my grandmother nursed me through.”

 

John Carter

Born November 1941. “Mum was living in South East London. Dad was serving in the Army.”

 

Maureen Carter (née Bridgman)

Born July 1945.

 

Jean Caton (née Cadle)

Born April 1946.  Her parents were living in Flackwell Heath.

 

 

 

Ruth Channer (née Lewis)

ah005Born August 1942. “Father had been ill with TB in Frimley Hospital a year before I was born.  My parents lived in Bermondsey and later in Downham Kent, where the picture was taken with two of my three brothers. It was interesting reading all the stories as I don’t know much about my Mother’s experiences except she used to walk quite a long way to the next villages.”

 

Diana Chapman (née Williams)

Born August 1944 to Victor Dennis Williams and Mabel Eva Williams from Lewisham SE 14. Victor was a printer and war time fireman, Mabel was a warden and the manageress at the Lewisham Picture Palace.

 

Christine Cinello (née Pimm)

Born November 1942.  “Father was a carpenter in the war worked on boats in Scotland. Mother was housewife.” .

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The group photo below was taken in 1945 at the end of war
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Christine, her parents and brothers, one born 1940 at Bishops Stortford
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1951 in Poplar, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suzanne Clarke

Born December 1943.  Mother evacuated from Cricklewood, had a two week stay and ”had one of the pleasantest Christmases spent, it snowed”

 

Carol Clark (née Mitchell)

Parents Edward Henry John, a joiner and Ada Louise Mitchell of New Eltham, London. Carol was a breach birth baby. Now living in Maidstone, Kent.

 

Valerie Carolyn Clark known as Carol

Born July 1941 to parents Thomas (Tom) Robert Clark and Mollie Agnes Clark of Chesham Bois. 

I (Martin Clark) am completing this on behalf of my sister who died 1963. My mother had medical problems and the family blamed poor treatment by the doctor as Carol was born handicapped with a 2 year mental age and a physical abnormality.
Both parents now dead whilst I live in France and North Yorkshire, being born at home in Chesham Bois in 1943.

 

Michael E Clear

Born April 1941 to mother Mary Elizabeth Clear and father Edward Thomas Dutton. From a baby of 6 weeks I was taken into Care to a family at Hyde Heath Amersham Buckinghamshire . My mother was Irish and I remained in care until I married at at age of 21. Now lives in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

 

Diana Cobb (née Paxon)

Born 1943.  Her sister (Sylvia Worden) says: “My mother had already lost one baby so as her sister in law lived at Chalfont St Giles she invited her to have me in Amersham. My sister Diana was also born there in 1943.”

 

John Cobb

Born September 1941.  “Father wartime National Fire Service (London). Parents lived in same house [in Chesham Bois] for some 15 years before moving to Old Amersham.”

 

John William Cogan

Born November 1947. Parents Richard George and Doris Nelly Winifred from Bromley, Kent.

Richard was in the Royal Engineers assault squadron and fought in France, Holland and Germany. He was demobbed in 1947. Doris worked both in an ammunition factory and as a fire warden. John has an older sister.

 

Alan Cohn

Born October 1943.  Lives locally.

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Carol Hook was born in July 1946, John Compton in November 1941.

The only Shardeloes Babies we know who were (much later)  married.  “We did know that we were both born at Shardeloes before we got engaged, and then took a trip to Amersham to find Shardeloes but were unable to get any further than the gates. We married in 1965 and this year celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary and are now retired with our family in Western Australia.”

 

Isabel Comens (née Dunn)

“Both my brother who was born in 1942 and myself in 1945 were privileged to have been born at Shardeloes.   We are both in different parts of the country now.”

 

Brenda Cook (née Eaton)

Born March 1941. “I believe I was the smallest born that day and it was in the daily newspaper of the day.” Now living in Canada.

 

Penny Cooke

Born January 1945 to parents Williams James Cooke and Sylvia of Kensington Gardens, London. My father was working for the Gasworks and therefore did not get called up. My mother worked in factories during the war. Now living in Ngunnawal, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.

 

Michael Cooper

Born July 1946, parents lived in Streatham, London. Michael’s father Robert had to wait six month to see him as he was in Palestine in the army. 

 

Anthony Corfield

Born July 1944. “After birth moved to Hornchurch to live with father’s parents, then in 1948 to Constantine Bay in Cornwall, in 1950 to Perranporth and in 1958 to Lulsgate near Bristol.”

 

Susan Cowen (née Mitchell)

Parents Sidney & Nora Mitchell, Ann Mitchell and Sue Cowen

Born March 1943. “Our father was in the RAF. I am identical twin, my sister’s name is Ann Mitchell (see below). I was born first. We came to see Shardeloes last week (August 2017), me for the first time.”

 

 

Michael Crowther

Born September 1944.  Parents were in service in London.

 

Patrick Coughlin

Born May 1942

 

Maureen Cutress (née Hester)Born January 1943.  My parents were living in a flat in Peckham but as Dad was serving in the Army Mum was staying with her parents at Elephant & Castle, so as not to be on her own.

Plan Your Visit

49 High Street
Old Amersham
Buckinghamshire
HP7 0DP

01494 723700
info@amershammuseum.org

OPENING TIMES

The museum will re-open on Saturday 22nd August. We will be open at weekends only, 12 noon to 4.30pm. We ask that you pre-book your visit

“Enjoyed our visit to this wonderful interactive museum where you are positively encouraged to touch things!”

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