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

 

Raymond Victor Ives

Born April 1945 to parents William Albert Victor and Ellen Beatrice Ives.

My parents were Evacuated From Penge South-East London Living in Brook Street Aston Clinton, with my sister and my cousin. I was born In 1945 and we stayed in Brook Street until 1950 when we relocated back to South-East London to live at first with my Grandparents, then remained in the area all through my life until 2017 when we moved to Suffolk.

My Father passed away in 1981 and mother in 1987 . I worked in the building industry all my life in maintenance, and then shopfitting, and managed to take early retirement in the year 2000, I enjoy being busy in the garden and playing golf. Married with three children and one stepson, and five grandchildren.

My Mum thought and always told everyone I was born in Sir Francis Drakes Home, when sorting out my family history some years ago my claim to fame was shattered.
Great to be included in the history of the house.

 

Jonathan James

Born October 1944. Now living in USA.

 

Margaret Jenkins (née Edwards)

Margaret Jenkins“Born 19th June 1940, the day after Churchill’s famous speech. My parents and sister were living in London at the outbreak of the war and I think it likely that my mother and sister went to live in Aylesbury with my grandmother for safety. My father was born and bred in Aylesbury and my grandmother’s family had lived in Whitchurch for generations.

During the war we lived in Malvern. My father was elected to Parliament in the 1945 election and we again lived with Nanny in Aylesbury, as it was so difficult to find somewhere to live in London. In 1946 we moved to a flat in Hampstead. From then till 1951 we had frequent visits to my grandmother in Aylesbury, by train from Finchley Road. I used to stand at the window after Amersham to wait to see Shardeloes and say “I was born there.” After Nanny died in 1951 my connection with Buckinghamshire was mostly reduced to occasional walks in the Chilterns, until four years ago when my younger son and family moved to Amersham-on-the-Hill.

Once, probably in 1947, I was taken to visit Shardeloes. We walked across the fields from Amersham station. There was someone there, I think, who had been at my birth. And also, I believe, the Matron. My father was by that time a junior minister at the Ministry of Health and may have had taken a professional interest in the future of Shardeloes.

Straight after university, in 1962, I married Christopher Jenkins, who became a lawyer and later Parliamentary Counsel. I started my working life as a computer programmer and, after the children (two boys and a girl) were well settled in school, I went into teaching – maths and IT at a girls’ secondary school. Now, in retirement, we live partly in Wales and partly in London. We much enjoy visits to our six grandchildren,in St Albans and Amersham.”

 

John Jessop

John Jessop – the cover photo for his book Tales from the South Pier
Gwen and Jess Jessop married in 1941 in Forest Hill

Born May 1942, now living in Esher, Surrey.

 

 

 

 

John Johnson

Born February 1946. “My mother was very ill at the time and I think a nurse named me and cared for me. I would love to find her name.”

 

Tana Johnson (née Willis)

Born August 1947.  “I have a letter written from my dad to my mum at Shardeloes the day I was born. The doctor who delivered me was Dr Helen Davidson who was murdered in 1966 (?) – or so I was told.”

dad 19470818a dad 19470818b dad 19470818c

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart Johnston

Born August 1947

 

Diane Keable

Born October 1946. “I have lived in Adelaide, South Australia since 1974. My sister Maureen, now lives in Welling, Kent. She married and had 5 sons, all of whom are now adult with families of their own. I never married but have had a partner, Phillip, for over 25 years. Mum and Dad spent their last few years with me in Adelaide.”

 

Joyce Kelly

Born June 1945.  Ada May Lambert, her mother, was a combatant in the ATS and evacuated to Shardeloes from Blackheath.  She said that unwed mothers were not treated very well and they had to clean the floors.

 

Suzanne Kennedy (née Fisher)

kennedy- fisher discharge

Born November 1945.  “At the time of my birth my father had not yet been discharged from the Army. A Major in the Worcestershire Regiment, attached to the Kings African Rifles, he was out in East Africa until Spring1946. So my mother was staying with her mother, Mrs Jean Heal of Green Meadows, Chalfont St Giles.”  Suzanne has kindly given the Museum her mother’s discharge paper from Shardeloes, a copy of which is shown here on the left.

 

 

Robin Kehyaian

Born August 1944

 

Anita Dorothy Ketchen (née Troughton)

Born September 1940. Her son, Mark Ketchen says;

We know my mother was adopted twice shortly after birth. We do not know who her biological parents are and what relation to Walter and Gladys Troughton (adopted parents) she actually was, as we are aware in WW2 it was common place for family to take on orphans within the wider family.

Ida Clements and Arthur Clements adopted my mother finally. However they are related to the Troughtons too…

Mothers married name being Ketchen and Maiden name being Troughton. Still not sure this was given to her upon initial adoption…

Any ideas how to trace her actual birth circumstance, name and biological parents would be appreciated.

 

John Keown

Born May 1941. “Both parents were practising Roman Catholics.”

 

Cornelius Brendon Kiely

Born May 1944.  His parents were living in Aylesbury.

 

Peter Klein

Born December 1944.  “My mother developed a DVT after my birth and was moved after 2 weeks to Chalfont St Peter to a hospital for a further 2 weeks. My father came regularly on the Met line from Cricklewood to see my mother. I stayed with her during this time.”

 

Mike Lane (formerly Langerman)

Born December 1941.  His wife, Eve, runs Laura the dress shop close to the Museum.

 

James Michael Lawrence

Born February 1946.

 

Brenda Leach (née Rawlinson)

Born October 1941.  “My mother was born in 1910 in the Rose and Crown pub Waterside , Chesham and had moved back to Chesham to be near her mother while I was born. All her family came from Chesham: Hawkes, Finches and Wrights. My parents were living in London but Mum returned to Chesham away from the bombing.”

 

Janet Avril LeFevre (Turner)

Born April 1941. Now living in Linn, Missouri, USA.

My Father’s name was Marcus Emile Louis LeFevre and my Mother’s Victoria Clara LeFevre (maiden name Jacobo). My family lived in Amersham with my father’s sister and her husband until we moved to Shell Haven where my father worked for Shell. My sister, Pamela LeFevre was born in 1939 in High Wycombe. We frequently talk about our childhood in England during and after the war.

 

Linda Lennard

Born March 1944.  Now living in Sidcup, Kent.

 

Ray Loach

Born March 1946 with parents in Woolwich.  Now living in Leicester.

 

Derek Lockyer

Born December 1946.  “My parents spent their life living and working in London until a retirement move to Somerset. I lived and worked in London and Hampstead until gradually returning close to my place of birth, living now in Chenies Village, Bucks.”

 

Christopher Lofty

ChrisLoftyBorn July 1945.  “During WW2 my parents home was in Seer Green, my Grandfather, Milton Cromwell Lofty, ran a Bakery business, Lofty & Son’s Ltd.  My father, Ernest Cromwell Lofty and his brother Milton Zachariah both worked in the Bakery, my dad was called up in 1941 and was enlisted into the Army Catering Corps where he remained until 1953. My older Brother Barry, was born at home in Seer Green in 1942 and I was born at Shardeloes on July 25th 1945. I believe my Dad was away in Norway at this time, his regiment were sent out there towards the end of the war to assist with clearing up.”

 

Norman Long

Norman Long-001Norman Long

Born May 1946.  His father (in the smart bowler) was a Bank Messenger, having been in the Scots Guards in the war. The picture of Norman is with his maternal grandfather, who was a Welsh miner.

 

 

 

 

 

Sheila Lovell (née Barnes)

Born  June 1944.  “My father was in the RAF. I believe he was stationed at Oakley at the time. My mother and father rented a room at a cottage in Long Crendon during the war and that is where I lived until we returned home to Croydon after the war. My mother used to tell me how the expectant mothers were given ‘chores’ to do to help with the day to day running of the maternity hospital. One was potato peeling……preparing buckets of potatoes for the daily meals. She also said that whilst she was shown enormous kindness, the atmosphere was highly disciplined.
My sister, who was 9 when I was born, used to go with my father to visit and told of a huge marble fireplace in the front hall beyond which she was not allowed to go!I believe on one night, soon after I was born, Shardeloes was hit by a doodlebug. My mother said she rushed to the nursery where all the babies were lined up in their cots and found me covered in shards of glass from the window. Amazingly, when they were removed, there weren’t any marks or cuts on me! I believe no babies were harmed. Quite a miracle.
A few years ago I read in an article in Woman’s Weekly that Michael Dennison and Dulcie Gray were living in one of the Shardaloes apartments and I wrote to them saying that I had been born there. By return, I had an amazing hand written letter telling me that it must have been a wonderful maternity home as she had received many letters similar to mine. She also said that the marble fireplace in the main hall was still there. I treasure that letter.”

 

Ruth Lubell (née Behr)

Born February 1943.  “My father was in the army, my mother in Chorleywood. I have been living in Israel since 1949, and I’m a qualified architect. My father was a District Judge. My parents passed away in 1998 and 2002.”

 

Charles Frederick James Lunn

Born August 1945.  Now living in Australia.

 

Roger Manning

Born March 1943. “I visited Shardeloes on my 60th birthday and saw the room where I was born (with the kind permission of the then occupier).”

 

Joyce Marchant (née Stockley)

Born October 1939 to parents John Henry and Georgina Rachel Stockley of Brentford, Middlesex. My birth certificate states I was born in Shardeloes and I went back about 8 years ago and was allowed a quick peep inside the grounds to take a photograph. Now living in Bramley.

 

Jennifer Martins (née Terry)

Born April 1942.  I have been told that I was named after the midwife who delivered me. 

 

Mary Masters (née Cobb)

Born March 1943. “Parents lived in the same house for fifteen years before moving to Old Amersham.  Lived there myself until marriage, when we finally ended up living in Clifton Road, a few houses from my childhood home. Finally emigrated to Canada in 1983.”

 

Christine Mathews (née Miller)

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Christine and her mother at baptism aged 6 weeks
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Christine aged 2 with her parents

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Born March 1942. “My father was away doing military service and my mother was living in London being transferred to Shardeloes for the birth. Unfortunately, that is the extent of my knowledge of that time.”

 

 

Raymond Mattholie

Gretchen and Ray at Shardeloes in the late 1960s

Born July 1947. “I would like to share a truly ‘Transatlantic’ Shardeloes’ Babies story:
While at Shardeloes my mother, Lilian Mattholie, met and started a lifelong friendship with Mary Osborne, who lived in the same South East London neighbourhood (40 miles away). Mary was from Brooklyn, New York, and had met her husband Jack during WWII when he was serving in the British Navy when he was on leave in the City.
In 1950 Mary, Jack and Shardeloes’ baby Gretchen moved back to the USA.
My mother and Mary kept in contact throughout their lives, including visits both ways.
In turn, Gretchen and I developed a ‘pen-pal’ correspondence, and eventually met up when Gretchen came to Europe as part of her studies. In 1968 we visited Amersham together, and this photo shows us on the steps of Shardeloes. Sadly, Gretchen died in a car accident in 1970. I now live in Nova Scotia, Canada”
(see also separate entry under Gretchen Osborne)

 

David McQuiggan

Born December 1943.  “Mother born in Scotland. Father born in London. I married in 1967, still married with two sons and four grandchildren, three girls and one boy.”

 

Paula Miller (née Owen)

Born December 1947. “My father worked in London when I was born at Shardeloes. He was employed by Shell Oil, later Shell Petroleum. He worked for this firm throughout his working life. He served in World War 2 and was in the Army serving in Belgium and other places in Europe and took part in Dunkirk.  My mother was a housewife. She didn’t work.  When the war finished my parents lived in Berkhamstead Road, Chesham with my grandparents until I was 18 months old, then we were offered a new council house in Chesham.  I remember my mother talked of making friends with other mums when in hospital and I know she kept in touch with at least one person for many years.  I had the impression that I was born at Shardeloes since my mother had lost a full term baby boy by stillbirth two years before I was born. This was in a maternity hospital in Chelmsford Essex and the hospital was blamed for negligence in the delivery.”

 

Sandra Milton

Born April 1946. “Parents moved from London to Chesham when married in 1938. My mother continued to attend Charing Cross hospital for rheumatoid arthritis treatment then was referred to Shardeloes for my birth.  My father died 1964, mother died 2003.

Doctors J Lang and Beaton, Student Doctor Pearson, Midwife Sister B Gretton, Nurse Whitehead were the medical staff on duty when I was born at 5.30am on Thursday 11th April 1946. The wards had very strict visiting hours. No fathers were allowed at the birth, after I was born the staff kindly telephoned my father who was lucky enough to have a telephone. He decided to visit as he did not have a car he took the bus from Chesham into Amersham then walked to Shardeloes, to see us but was told it wasn’t visiting times and my mother was asleep he could not see her so he had a chat with the Sister who was really sweet, so very understanding and re-assuring.  Then he returned at the next visiting times to see us both and he continued to visit sometimes with family and friends during the rest of our stay there. He mentioned the house was a long walk up from the main road, once inside the rooms were palatial like a stately home with very basic beds and equipment . It must have seemed so remote from London where many mothers had come from. I gather my mother had a happy stay, I believe she was in there for about 10 days, the staff were very kind to her during a long labour. These snippets I’ve gathered from letters and past conversations with my parents. I still live in Chesham, went to local schools and worked for Bucks County Council.”

 

Ann Mitchell

Born February 1943.  Twin sister to Susan Cowen (see above).

 

Patricia Moore (née Harris)

Born January 1945. “I only know that my Grandmother and Uncle (Dad’s brother) came to take me and mum back home to London on the train. My father was still in the services.

 

Colin Morris

Born April 1941.  Colin emigrated to Canada in 1966 where he still lives.

Susan Morris (née Stewart)

Born December 1946. “Mum was in the Hospital for two weeks after I was born and she discharged herself on Christmas Eve as she wanted home for Christmas. They went home on the Green Line Bus as they did not have a car. During the war my Mum was a Bus Conductress and Dad was in the Navy. When I was three months old Dad wanted to return to Scotland where we still live.”

 

Terry Mosely

Born November 1946.  “Father was Chief Petty Officer in the navy.”

 

Margaret Moulson (née Chmura)

Born April 1944 to parents Kazimierz Chmura and Mary Harmon Stenhouse who got married at Our Lady’s Roman Catholic Church, Amersham Road in June 1945 both aged 28years. Mother worked in the hospital as assistant cook. Dad was at RAF Braintree. Now living in Deal, Kent.

 

Christine Munday (née Jones)

Born January 1946.  “I lived in Bermondsey with my parents and grandparents. Dad went to Canada on Court Martial duty.  I have had a very happy life. I lived first 7 years in London, then 1953 we moved to Hatfield new town. My sister was born that year. I went secondary school in Welwyn Garden City. I met my husband both there and through church. We were married in 1968. We have 2 daughters and 6 grandchildren. We spent 23 years in South Africa which was a wonderful experience. We returned to the UK in 2002 with all the family. I have been a teacher all my life and even though retired I still coach children who need help or are sitting entrance exams. Both my husband and I are members of Lions Clubs International and have held many positions of responsibility in the organisation. My mother died in 1999 and my father in 2001.”

 

Stephen Musgrave

Born November 1943.  “My grandmother Lottie Meakin was living in Amersham at the time. My mother went to stay with her in anticipation of my birth at Shardeloes and presumably to benefit from her help immediately afterwards, although her home was in Brighton on the south coast. Apparently the appearance of numbers of pregnant women staying in and around Amersham in advance of their giving birth became known locally as the “balloon barrage”.”

Plan Your Visit

49 High Street
Old Amersham
Buckinghamshire
HP7 0DP

01494 723700
info@amershammuseum.org

OPENING TIMES

Amersham Museum will now be closed throughout November. We hope to re-open after 2nd December.

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

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