The Brocket Babies

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Stories from 1941

1.  From Julie Bloomfield - received 17th October 2009

A wonderful story of a family reunited.  Please click here


2.  From Marie Henstock, Cheshunt - baptism certificate received 28th September 2010

I am a Brocket Baby, born in 1941. Please see attached baptism certificate here


3.  From Jili Hamilton - received 22nd January 2011

My mother would be around 100 if she were still on this planet. However two things I do remember and one was that Sister Squires was the person about whom she spoke who was in charge of the delivery room at the time. There were several women who shared her ward and one baby who was born on the same day as me was David Jobson. There was a Janet and a Rosemary but I can’t remember their family names although they may come to me later. Mum also spoke about the Ribbentrop room which I thought was the labour ward but it may not have been. I think it was so called because Herr von Ribbentrop had spent the night there. When she was up and about she went into the ballroom but all the chandeliers had been taken down and put in the basement in case of war damage so she was sad not to see it in all its splendour. Many years later I knew Priscilla Clements (who married Richard Dixon) and who came from Welwyn. She was born at Brocket after the war towards the end of its mission as a maternity clinic and at that time I think local mothers were automatically accepted. Great fun to be part of a select group and if you would like to add any of my details to the site I would be delighted – hands across the ocean and all that.

Jili followed this up with a further story on 22 January 2011 here


4.  From Jill Pigott - received 28th March 2011

My father was in the Royal Army Medical Corps based at Hatfield House at that time, and my parents address given on my birth certificate was 23 Lemsford Road, Hatfield. Our family home was in Beckenham, Kent , so we were only in the Hatfield area due to the RAMC being at Hatfield House. I do not know how long my father was based at Hatfield House, or how long my mother was in Hatfield.


5.  From Doreen Cater - received 2 September 2011

I was born at Brocket Hall on 26th October 1941.  My grandparents lived in London but owned a bungalow in Broxbourne on the River Lee and they with my mother and her two sisters were taken there to be away from the bombing.  My father was in the RFM Rifle Brigade and was unable to visit my mother so he sent a very poignant and emotional letter and a handkerchief with his regiments badge on, and I have since passed these to Newhaven Fort who have placed them in the new exhibits case.  My father was in a tank which was blown up and he was blinded by the blast, but thankfully the doctors and nurses we able to recover his sight and he lived to the age of 79.


6.  From Christine Ryles (Felixstowe, England) - received 22nd September 2013

My mother spoke a lot about Brocket Hall because when she had my sister in 1941 she was very ill and was there for quite a time.  I have a photo of my father standing outside Brocket Hall in thick snow (which must have been in the January) and I do remember him saying it took him hours to get home to Haringey, North London on that day.  My father died in 1976 and all my Aunts have since died so I have nobody to ask any further questions.  My Aunt came with my sister and I on the first Brocket Babes Day in 1997 which we thoroughly enjoyed it was bitter sweet in a way because my Aunt showed us the room my mum was in and I thought of her looking out of the window I was looking out of and I would have loved her to be with us there.

Unfortunately I am disabled now and it would be too difficult for me to attend another Brocket Babes Day but at least I have been to one which I will never forget.


7.  From Jili Hamilton and Margaret-Ann Tschirren-Yardley - received 13 July 2014

Dear David I am attaching a summary which Jili Hamilton wrote (her computer is out of action at present) about our nice meeting in a town called Bienne in Switzerland.  A Geneva based Brocket baby meeting a Zurich based Brocket baby.  We had a lovely day together.... We thought you would love to hear about it.  Kind regards Margaret-Ann Tschirren-Yardley

Hi David, We two Swiss-based Brocket Babies met up in Biel/Bienne, which is about equidistant from where we both live, one in Zurich and one in Geneva.  This beautiful city means a lot to both of us (Margaret-Ann has deep roots there and Jili spent a few days on a course, falling in love as she walked out of the station for the first time).  The weather, which had been forecast to be chilly and cloudy with some rain turned out to be warm (hot even) and sunny.  Fortune smiles on the brave!  We met at the station and spent the rest of the day talking, talking, talking.  A long, leisurely lunch, an afternoon in the beautiful garden of a small hotel just ten minutes’ walk from the centre where we soaked up the sun and the time just flew by.  There were of course differences in our lives and in our ideas, but many, many similarities and synchronicities which made for a stimulating day.  We caught our trains home around 7 o’clock in the evening and look forward to getting together again.  It would be fantastic if we could find other BBs who live in Switzerland as our country is small enough for us to get together with ease.  We agreed that we owe a debt of gratitude to you for setting up the site and we are delighted that we’ve found it and that oh-so-important link with our mutual origins.  Best wishes and blessings, Margaret-Ann (Tschirren) and Jili (Hamilton)


8.  From Jennifer Eburne - received 14 August 2014

During the course of some family history research we have discovered that one of my husband's cousins was born at Brocket Hall.  His name was David Charles Eburne and he was born 15 April 1941.  Sadly David died before either of his parents, on 1 December 1974.  He left a young widow, a three year old daughter, and a nine month old son.  However, there has been a happy ending for them.  A few years later his widow remarried, to the widower father of one of her daughter's friends who also had a son of the same age as her son.  The four children have grown up happily in the new combined family - and particularly enjoyed having double the normal number of grandparents!

Unfortunately I only recently became aware that David was also a Brocket Baby so was not able to talk to him or his parents about that.

Thank you for all your work maintaining the Brocket Babies site. It is interesting reading the stories and seeing just how far the "babies" have travelled around the world.


9.  From Sheila Ann Alexander (Croydon, Surrey) - received 16 September 2014

I was born on 13 May 1948 to Phyllis Gibbs and was the first baby delivered by Sister Ann and she asked that I took her name. My second name is Ann.

My mother served in the ATS during the war as a height finder on gun sights.  My father Harry Gibbs OBE was captured at Dunkirk and was a prisoner of war.  He became a world famous boxing referee and was awarded his OBE in 1976 for his services to sport.


10.  From Sandra Beard - received 4th March 2016

Just by chance came across this page about babies born at Brocket Hall.

I was one of those babies born on 12th February 1941 ,only just survived a traumatic birth not expected to live, just had my 75th so haven't done to badly.

My parents lost their home in Putney and made their way to Welwyn to lodge with family.

We lived in a small cottage in Mimram Rd ,Welwyn until I was 5 yrs old.

Have ended up in Berkhamsted Hertfordshire after living in various places.


11.  From Eileen Pegrum - received 8th May 2016

Sadly my Mother is no longer with us and passed away in 2009 aged 91 having had Alzheimer's for many years.  In 1941 when she was encouraged to go to Brocket Hall she had to get to City Road where she was collected by coach, which then did the rounds of the hospitals and equally deposited the mothers to be at various venues.  My mother then being dropped off at Brocket where she was promptly sent for bed rest as she had Toxaemia now known  as pre eclampsia.  Unfortunately she was unable like the others to venture into the village.  Apparently after this I was in a hurry to arrive. We lived most of my childhood in Chadwell Heath and Romford.


12.  From Brian Cornaby - received 26th May 2016

Long time no contact, but so far away David, up in north Scotland 20 miles north of Inverness, I have been clearing too much 'dross' acquired from too many decades past.  I was checking out odd items of my mother's small tatty card box of trinkets.  One small corroded item is a 6" long "Bracelet" with tiny dark corroded links and usual ring catch.  The attached "rolled Gold" metal 'Tag' has four corners cut so not sharp when on wrist: and has scratched with sharp pointed item: " E.M. CORNABY" and underneath the initials: R.2.B.C. 161-4.  The other side is marked "Mary" scratched  by hand.  I guess it was worn by my mother at Brocket Hall (as I was a "breech" awkward birth)!!  Maybe mother was sleeping much of the time?  Maybe someone can shed light on whether they were hastily made up for all birthing mothers, or those who needed watching over their 'recovery' period?  I probably mentioned before that my Lemsford St. John's Church colourful Baptism Certificate had only "Brian Douglas" on it to avoid 'gossip' with my mother being unmarried in that war period. She went back to work at the Tax Office quickly with so many male staff on 'active service'.  I was looked after by a succession of her various Office work pals until Hillside Prep School, Totteridge, north London.  Hopefully the bracelet I have may bring back memories.  Maybe someone can shed some light on it?

Update 29th May - My sister in law was at our house today and said she had a similar wartime wrist chain I.D. with wartime I.D. numbers - so maybe it was my mother's ID not mine? Perhaps you will hear from other people.


13.  A story from Dr Ruth Shrensky (Australia) - received 8th April 2017

I decided to write a small autobiography for my grandchildren, so naturally I had to begin with my birth.  My mother liked to tell me that I was born in a Stately Home - Brocket Hall, Welwyn, Hatfield - and today, 76 years later, I looked it up on the web.  I had no idea I was a famous Brocket Baby!

I was born 13 November 1941, to Ann (née Lazarovitch - the birth certificate spelt mum's name wrongly, 'Nazarovitch') and Abraham (Alfred) Shrensky, and named Brenda Ruth, home address 1 Mare Street, Hackney.  A few years later, my parents became naturalised British and anglicised the name to Stern, so I went by the name Brenda Stern till I was about 25.  I'd never liked either name (nasty school teachers used to chant 'Stern by name and stern by nature' as I was a very shy withdrawn kid and rarely smiled - the opposite now!), so since then I've used my middle name and my birth surname.

Mum didn't tell me much about Brocket Hall, but she idolised Lord Brocket as a 'real gentleman': generous and humane. She thought it was wonderful that he gave up his home so I could be born safely.

Good luck to all of you!

Best wishes