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

 

Albert Ratcliff

Albert Ratcliff in 2015
Albert Ratcliff in 2015
Albert Ratcliff, aged 8

Born November 1940. My parents were living in Fentiman Road near the Oval cricket ground from 1939 when they were married. My father was an Auxiliary fireman, following being in a reserved occupation the premises of which were bombed. My mother was sent to Shardeloes in November 1940 to have me, during the height of the blitz. We stayed at Fentiman Road until April 1943 when we moved to West Norwood (my mother continued to live there until she died aged 95). I was educated in Kennington. I remained at that address until I married in 1967.

We lived in Copthorne, Sussex and later moved to present address in Lindfield, Haywards Heath, West Sussex. We have two sons and two grandsons living in the general area. I was employed as an Insurance Surveyor travelling about London, Surrey, Kent and Sussex.  I am a member of Surrey County cricket club and attend the Oval from time to time and support Crystal Palace football club so still have a presence in the general locality. Amongst hobbies I sing and have been doing so for 30 years with Ardingly Choral Society.

 

Charles Samuel Redfern

“My mother gave birth to me in January 1943 and my father was killed in battle in May 1943, never seeing me his son. My mother was a war widow till she passed away in December 2013 aged 96.”

 

David Reed

Born March 1945.  Parents then living in Herne Hill, London.

 

Rosemary Ann Sherley Renouf (née Lawrence)

Born June 1942 to parents Henry Pelham and Gladys Mary Lawrence. At the time living at Heath End,  Hawridge and Cholesbury near Chesham Bucks. They came to live at Heath End after their house in London was bombed. I had an elder sister Margaret. My Father was a sales man at Harrods of Knightsbridge in London. And travelled by train to London each day through out the war.

During our time at Heath End, in 1944 a doodlebug dropped on Glebe House very near to where we lived and as my mother my self and sister Margaret were out walking that day on hearing the cutout noise of the bomb my mother and sister dived in to a ditch leaving me standing in the lane. The force of the bomb picked me up and lifted me down the lane, where I was cut and bleeding. My mother scooped us up and ran to Glebe House (owned by Dr. Ellis) to see if anyone was hurt. Two elderly ladies were hit by flying glass but otherwise alright. They told my mother to takes the little dears home as by now I needed looking after.
We spent 8 happy years at Heath End cottage, attending the local school on the common. Moving to Amersham in 1950. Now living in Downham Market, Norfolk.

 

Dr. Peter Renton (born Reichenbaum)

image010Born February 1944, and died in 2003.  The Reichenbaums were Czech Jewish refugees who had escaped in the nick of time from the Gestapo.  They already had one son of school age, George, who had been born in Czechoslovakia.  Before and during the war the family was allocated rented rooms in Barnet, Hackney and Finsbury Park. After the war they lived in Stoke Newington.

Alfred worked in a factory for a firm in  Bourne End – Hendrey Relays, which made relays for aircraft.  He had to report to the local constabulary every week, presumably because he was an alien. ‘Aliens’, it seems, included those in England whose countries had been over-run by the Nazis.  The family was living in Marlow. The letter is addressed to the Czech Ministry of Defence, so perhaps Alfred had been called up for the Free Czech Forces and had got an exemption letter to show them that he was doing necessary war work.

In 1963 George and Peter changed their surname by deed poll to Renton, as no-one could read, pronounce or spell the name Reichenbaum.  Peter was a radiologist working at University College Hospital and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital).  He wrote The Lost Synagogues of London, published in 2000.

 

Brian Revel

Born June 1947.  “Lived in Amersham for two years and in Chesham since. My family came from Amersham, mother’s from Chesham.”

 

Carol Rhodes (née Phillips)

Born September 1946.  “Mum says that she was sent there for 3 weeks. My dad came down to see her. Mum is still alive but has dementia. Weight-6lbs 12oz.”

 

Anthony Rickaby

Born October 1944.  Father took part in D Day landings and was killed on 11th February 1945. Mother, Mary, remembers that patients had to help and that the Catholic  Sister walked some women to Mass on a Sunday. She also remembers a large grey building with a veranda and sash windows.

 

Tim Rice (now Sir Tim Rice, Lyricist)

Born November 1944. His father’s diary entries mention Shardeloes several times, often spelling it incorrectly. Mother and Baby stayed until 27 November.  His father was in the Army and his mother was in the WAAF as a photographic interpreter.

 

Peter Rolfe

Born August 1945

 

Brian Victor Rose

Born April 1944

My father, Victor Bertram Rose was a native of Hazlemere, Bucks and was in the Army at the time of my birth. My mother, Elsie Margaret Rose was from the East End of London and moved here with her family in 1941.
I have lived in High Wycombe all my life.

 

Victoria Ann Patricia Rose (née Ross)

Jean Lawson and I are first cousins and pictured together (above right) when we were about 6 or 7, pictured below is me age 14 in Raans High School uniform. Jean and I are still best of friends and we always come to see them every time we are back in England. The other fairly recent pic (above left) is me with another lady also a “Shardeloes baby”, her name is Barbara Friel (nee Kimber) her mother was evacuated from Kensington, Barbara was born in December 1943. We met in South Africa around 30 years ago, she is one of my best friends, we Shardeloes Babes stick together!

Born May 1943.  “Father was in the Royal Signals,  Mother in the W.A.A.F.s”   “I was married in 1964 in the old Amersham Baptist church; prior to coming to South Africa my husband and I lived in Kent. We have two children, boy and a girl both born in England, we all now live in SA along with our four grandchildren.”

 

 

 

Irene Rowley

Born October 1947.  Now living in Surrey.

 

Irene Russell (née Baker)

Irene's Baptism - age 6 weeks
Irene’s Baptism – age 6 weeks

Born June 1946.  My parents met whilst both serving in the RAF. It was a whirlwind romance and in January 1945 they had a wartime wedding and eighteen months later I was born at Shardeloes! Mum and Dad lived with my grandparents in rented accommodation in Highbury, North London. I am not entirely sure why Mum was evacuated to Amersham, but it could be due to a lack of maternity beds in and around Highbury & Islington; or the poor living conditions were not suitable for a home delivery. They lived in a small terraced house with no running hot water, no bathroom and no heating. There was also a lodger occupying one of the rooms.

As far as I am aware Mum stayed at Shardeloes for 6 weeks. She told me that some of the expectant mothers had to do various household chores during their stay.

Irene aged 2 with Mum & Dad
Irene aged 2 with Mum & Dad

Even though the war had ended, food was still rationed and I cannot imagine just how difficult it must have been making the meagre amount of food go around, only supplemented by the lovely tomatoes and runner beans from the garden. We continued to live with my grandparents in Highbury and my Nan did most of the cooking. Living in inner London in those post war years was a bit like living in a village – everyone knew each other and their business! All the neighbours were called Aunt or Uncle and you could never walk along the street without bumping into someone and stopping for a chat.

Street Outing for Coronation - Shardeloes Mum wearing Union Jack!
Street Outing for Coronation – Shardeloes Mum wearing Union Jack!

As the years passed and rationing ceased, things got a bit easier. We didn’t have holidays, but we did enjoy occasional days out to the seaside. These trips were usually street outings, which were paid for by putting a few pence away each week for several months. Everyone looked forward to these day trips and they were immensely enjoyed by adults and children alike.

My primary school was a stone’s throw from the Arsenal football ground. In those days all children had to sit the 11+ examination. Sadly I didn’t pass, so had to go to a secondary modern school. During my time there I had the opportunity to go on a school trip to Austria. My parents went without to enable me to go on this trip. I left school at 15 – in the 1960’s it was easy to get work. In fact if you didn’t like one job you just left and got another straight away. I got a job as a junior in a travel agency – this inspired my life-long interest in other countries.

I continued to live with my parents in Highbury until I got married. Our first marital home was in a small and dingy flat just around the corner from Mum & Dad. In 1971, Roger and I moved to Colchester to buy our first house. Subsequently, we moved to Farnborough, Hants and finally Swindon, Wilts for the last 30+ years. We have four children in their thirties & forties now, plus two grandchildren. Roger & I retired together in 2006 and since that time we have travelled extensively, visiting many countries around the world. Our daughter lives in New Zealand, so that gives us the excuse to travel.

I feel very privileged being one of the “baby boomer” generation. Over the decades I’ve witnessed so many wonderful things that my grandparents and parents would not have thought possible. Likewise, my children could not conceive of the way we were in the 1940s & 50s!

 

Timothy Ryan

Born September 1942. “Dad was in RAF when I was born.  Did not see me for 7 days till he got leave.”

 

Jackie Scull (née Addis) 

“Dad was in the RN through WW2 serving on submarines. Around the time of my birth, he was away a lot, ferrying surrendered & captured German U-Boats back from Russia to England.

In 1949 we moved to Australia & then on to New Zealand. We returned to England in 1960 & lived in Canterbury in Kent until 1963 – when we returned to NZ. I met my husband shortly after & we have now been married for 50 years. He was born in & originally from Wiltshire but went to NZ aged 6. We moved to Australia in 1992. We have 2 daughters & 5 grandchildren.”

 

Eric Ronald Selmes

Born December 1940.  “Father a stoker in Royal Navy.”

 

Sally Sharp (née Evans)

Born September 1946.

 

Diana Shorey

Born June 1942. “Father was an RAF Officer, whereabouts unknown at the time. He was on a ship on the day in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. They had both been living in Singapore which was bombed on 7/12/1941 by Japanese on the same day as Pearl Harbour attack. Parents had no news of each other for six months. Long story but grateful to be alive and not killed or in a POW camp.  I worked at Burmah-Castrol, an oil company in London, then in Brussels at Nato and at a UN agency in Geneva.”

Diana with her parents in August 1942
Diana at the Southern-most tip of Africa September 2015

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Vera Skinner

Born May 1941.  “Father was abroad fighting. Mother was staying with her sister in Aylesbury.” (The photos show Vera on her 75th birthday and her parents).

 

Angela Skrimshire (née Shaw)

Born November 1942. Father was doing reserved occupation in Old Amersham before joining The Fleet Air Arm; he was a navigator. Parents moved out from SE London to Winchmore Hill. Sister to Madeleine Fletcher, also a Shardeloes baby.

 

David Smaldon

Born August 1945.  “Parents married in 1938 and moved to Lewisham. Mother had antenatal and postnatal care at Lewisham Hospital. I was an only child. Family moved to Hassocks, West Sussex in Nov. 1954. Parents both died there.”

 

David Smart

Born October 1946.  “Dad was serving with No 2 Commando. I have a brother and a sister. I served with 2 Para, then a London Taxi Driver for 36 years.”

 

Violet Smart (née Cracknell)

Born October 1947.

 

Leonard Smeath

ah019Born June 1942.  “My Mother gave me a half of a pint of Blood as I was a casualty of my Parents’ Blood incompatibility. I was the 3rd baby to be given this treatment as about 700 babies each year did not survive in the UK before that date. The rest is history as the Blood Transfusion Service was to save thousands of lives.  My Father was a D Day veteran and of course the reason for my birth in Amersham was that most women in London in 1942 were evacuated for the birth. As I said my own difficulty was with my Blood. My parents had recently been moved from Holloway as their house had been bombed. My sister who was 7 years older was evacuated to live with a relative in Cumberland. Dad came home in 1945 and as a result of the beach bombings had lost his hearing. He died in 1990. My Mother lived to a good age and died in 2001. I married in 1967 and after 28 years in Tottenham, moved to Dunstable for another 28 years. On retirement my wife and I moved to Norwich in 1998. I have 2 children ie David (teacher) age 44 and Linda (physiotherapist) age 42. I consider that I have been mightily blessed considering that they only gave me 6 days to live.”

 

Jennifer Smith (née Hart)

Born October 1947. “My father died aged 72 of a massive stroke. My mother died of Leukaemia a few years later. I have Parkinson’s Disease and moved to the coast with my husband in 2010.”

 

David Spencer

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David in 2014
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David’s mother, Elizabeth, in 1959

Born September 1942.  His parents lived in Aylesbury at the time and he now lives in Surrey.  “As a family we left Aylesbury in 1946 and returned to London (Wandsworth) where we all stayed until dispersal (ie getting married etc). Mum passed in 1992 and dad in 1998. For my sins, after a short but varied start, I settled down to a lifelong career in banking; married to Sally in 1968, two daughters and seven grandchildren, now living in Epsom. Sadly nothing spectacular to report.”

 

Robert Spicer

Born January 1945.  Father was ARP warden during WW2.

 

Josephine Stacey (née Tucker)

"Mum and me 1943"
“Mum & me 1943”
"Mum & Dad 1948"
“Mum & Dad 1948”

Born November 1942.  “I only found out 7 years ago that my biological father was killed in the war. Until then I always believed the man I called ‘Dad’ was my actual father.  An uncle of mine told me. Both my parents are now dead. So many secrets never divulged – my sister, brother and I always felt there was something ‘not told’ about our past.  My name changed from Tucker to Vandenbosch in 1948, after I started school. Whether I was formally adopted I don’t know, but I did get a copy birth certificate dated 21 March 1950 which showed H R Vandenbosch as my father. As it happens my ‘parents’ did not marry until 1969 – but to me they will always be ‘Mum & Dad’.”

 

Christine Stammers

Born October 1942. “My parents lived in a basement or garden flat, I don’t know what number. They moved to Norwich when I was about 2. Mother a secretary, father an electrician. I was a teacher, my brother a production manager for J J Lyons. He died about 20 to 25 years ago.”

 

Kay Stranger (née Thurlow)

Born March 1945.  “Dad was in the army, Mum came from Brixton, London.  Mum is still alive and remembers Shardeloes well.  Mum had been evacuated from London during the war and was staying in a house called Innisfree, which I think was in Amersham that is why I was born in Shardeloes.

Dad was a regular soldier and wasn’t demobbed until 1947. We lived in Brixton for most of my childhood. Mum and Dad produced three more children all boys. I got married at 19 and was widowed with two children at 24. I got married again to Bob and had two more children; we are a big happy family. Mum is a sprightly 92 much loved by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She often talks about Amersham and the time she spent there. I have been back to look at Shardeloes several times it is such a beautiful house; maybe my birthplace inspired my love of history.

Kay's father in uniform
Kay’s father in uniform
Kay with her Mum 2015
Kay with her Mum 2015
Kay with her Mum 1945
Kay with her Mum 1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony Sturley

Born June 1943.  Now living in W Australia

 

Maureen Swadling (née Webb)

Born September 1942.  Mother lived in Battersea.

 

Anthony Swainson
Born at Shardeloes in December 1947 to parents Bertram Charles Swainson and Harriet Swainson (nee Laverick).

We moved back to Chester le Street about 1950/51 where I lived until I went to Manchester to study music at what is now the Royal Northern College of Music. I moved to Glasgow in 1971 to take up a post as Principal Tuba in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. I still live there (retired from the BBCSSO in 1997) where I still work part time as Professor of Tuba at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. My father died of cancer in 1971 but my Mum is still alive and will be 96 in May. She lives in assisted living accommodation in Chester le Street. I now live in Bearsden.

 

Margaret Swindon

Born June 1947.  Lives locally.

 

Derek John Somerset Taylor and Michael Norman Somerset Taylor 

Identical twins, born November 1942 to parents Charles Norman and Isabel Kathleen Taylor of Green Lane, Amersham.

Both were successful professional cricketers. Derek played for Surrey, Somerset , Griqualand West and the MCC. Michael for Nottinghamshire and Hampshire.”

Derek now lives in Queensland, Australia.

 

Michael Norman Tedbury

Photos below from left to right: Michael taken outside Shardeloes on the 5th December 2001 on his 60th Birthday; his Sister Hilary and Michael in the pram; Mum, Sister Hilary and Michael in April, 1944; Michael at Primary School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born December 1941. “Mother and daughter were living in St. Johns Wood, London NW8; evacuated to 79 Vale Road Chesham. Father was serving in the REME, based in Middle Wallop at the time of my birth.

 

 

 

Margaret Tee (née Pearson)

Born February 1941.  Parents lived in Walworth, London but moved to the North East some months after Margaret’s birth.

 

Catherine Bridget Thomas (née McNally)

Born December 1940. Now living in Coventry, parents were Thomas McNally and Margaret McNally (née Maloney) of St Pancras, London. Thomas served in the RAF during the war. The family moved to Coventry after the war where Thomas worked for GEC.

 

Cynthia Thomas (née Foreman)

Born March 1942.  “As I have been recently traced by my brothers, I know that my mother’s husband had been missing presumed dead at Dunkirk. I assume she was a widow when she met my birth father. She already had two sons but they never knew about me. The fact came to light when my youngest brother was doing a family tree for another brother and my name came up under my mother’s name – Jeanette Foreman – as adopted. He then started searching for me with very happy results. My brother took me to Shardeloes and the caretaker was kind enough to show us round. This was in 2009.

 

Raymond Evan Thomas

Born August 1946. “We moved to Fulham in 1952 where my parents had a dairy & grocers until 1972. I married my wife Susan in 1967, looking forward to our golden anniversary next year.”  Now living in Surrey.

 

John (Nick) Thompson

Nick is the baby!
Nick is the baby!

Born June 1944. “I was conceived out of wedlock, my mother’s husband having been away on military service for some years.  I only discovered that I was born at Shardeloes when I traced my origins just a few years ago, having been put up for adoption by my natural mother just a couple of months after my birth.  Years ago, before we knew about my birth parents, my wife used to joke that perhaps I was the son of a prince, so when I discovered that my natural father was named ‘Frank Prince’ we could hardly believe it!   But at least I was born in a stately home, surely something to boast about?…”

 

 

Margaret Thorne

Born July 1944. Mother, Betty, was evacuated from Croydon due to a VI attack and arrived via a 59A bus to Brixton then a coach to Amersham. Described Amersham as “ pretty quiet country town and a safe haven” and Shardeloes” a beautiful white mansion set up on a hill”.  She remembers that the wards had large casement windows and would look out at the sky and listen to all the country sounds at night.

 

Valerie Thornton

My mother Irene Brooks gave birth to me at Shardeloes in August 1946. I’ve always been so proud of the fact I was born in such a beautiful building that has such a unique history.

 

John Tolson

Born May 1945. “Birth cert states ” Shardeloes” Amersham. Father born in Rotherhithe, SE16, Mother born Greenwich, lived in Bermondsey all of her life.”

 

Mavis Tracey

Born June 1942.

 

Roger Frederick Trayling

Born March 1946

 

Paul Trumper

Born August 1943. “Mother was living in Aylesbury, father serving in the war with the RAMC.”

 

Lana Turner

 

 

 

 

(from left to right above: Lana; Lana with son Robert and daughter Debbie; Lana with granddaughter Sharree; Lana with granddaughters and grandsons.)

Born April 1945. Information from grand-daughter Sharee Spence: “My Nan, Lana Turner, was born at Shardeloes Hospital in the old town of Amersham. My parents now live in Australia – my Nan passed in 2012.”

(left to right) Mark Malkin, Annette Mulcahy, Sharree Spence, and Luke Malkin at Amersham Museum

 

 

Plan Your Visit

49 High Street
Old Amersham
Buckinghamshire
HP7 0DP

01494 723700
info@amershammuseum.org

OPENING TIMES

In view of the Corona Virus (Covid-19) the museum will be closed until further notice.

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

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