Flete babies

Are you a Flete Baby?

Last week I heard in a conversation at Mothecombe Teahouse that one of our guests staying at Nepeans cottage was a Flete baby, returning to the Flete Estate to celebrate her 70th birthday. What is a Flete baby? During the World War II, Flete House was requisitioned as a maternity hospital for Plymouth following the bombing of Freedom Fields hospital. About nine thousand babies were born at Flete, and each mother was visited personally by Lord Mildmay who was still living there, and given a signed photograph of Flete as a memento. After the war ended, Flete continued to fill the role of Plymouth’s maternity hospital until 1956, when repair works to Freedom Fields were complete.

We would love to hear from any Flete babies – tell us your story

Flete House 1896
Flete House and terrace
50 replies
  1. Diane Gribbin nee Pease
    Diane Gribbin nee Pease says:

    My mother was at Fleet waiting for labour to stop. My father caught a bus from Plymouth. My father walked my mother to the pub in Ermington, where she had a pot of cockles. Her labour started that night, she thought it was because of the cockles, I was her first baby. She told me she had to climbed the Great staircase while in labour to go to the delivery room I believe. I always wanted to go and have a look, but it is now private apartments. This was in 1948.

  2. mike carrivick
    mike carrivick says:

    I don’t remember the first days there (Dec 1946)! However, having moved away from the area back in 1965 to establish a career in the airline world, I returned for a quick look last year. What an impressive place in lovely surroundings. Now that the House is aimed at the older generation (like myself) the wonderful irony presents itself that, having been born there, one could also end one’s days there!

  3. Ann Hartley nee Bignell
    Ann Hartley nee Bignell says:

    I was. a Flete baby born 62years ago tomorrow (11thOctober) my Dad was serving on board HMS Illustrious in Portsmouth so didn’t see me until I was a few weeks old

  4. Laraine Kernick
    Laraine Kernick says:

    I was a Flete baby, born 6th June 1952, my dad who was a chef (cook) in the Royal Navy at Admiralty House Devonport. My dad use to cycle in every day to see us, would love to be able to go and have look around, I know that it is private residence now.

  5. Melanie Tucker
    Melanie Tucker says:

    My dad was born at Flete in 1948. My nan remembers the room having had the portraits and paintings removed ,you could see clearly where they had been on the wall.

  6. B. Lywood
    B. Lywood says:

    My husband, Bob was a Flete Baby. 12/10/55. He said loads of his classmates at primary school in Salcombe were born there too.

  7. Jan Davies
    Jan Davies says:

    I was not a Flete baby but our family was from Ermington and my Aunt worked at Flete when it was a maternity unit. Full circle as my sister worked there in the dining room when the house became retirement appartments.

    • Jennifer Turner
      Jennifer Turner says:

      Hi Judith, Think I know you, was your sister Susan, 1I was Jennifer Triggs my sister Janet and I were both born there too. Fond memories of our childhood in Kingston

  8. Andrea Clark
    Andrea Clark says:

    I was probably one of the last Flete babies born, Christmas Eve 1957 my father cycled through the snow from Plymouth to visit us. I was also given an angel which had a dress made of cream crepe paper and tinsel as a halo this was attached to my cot Christmas morning.

  9. Kathy Toms
    Kathy Toms says:

    Both my mother in law and father in law are Flete babies, born almost exactly a year apart. One in 1956 and one in 1957, one from Ermington and one from Wrangaton. Then twenty years later they met playing hockey in Ivybridge and the rest is history! They still live just a couple of miles from Flete and are very fond of telling their grandsons that they were born in “the big posh castle!”

  10. Meg Davis-berry
    Meg Davis-berry says:

    I was born at Flete in 1951. Because of the crenellations on the building I believed as a child that I was born in a castle which made me a princess. My mother was overdue and bored with her stay at Flete so decided to walk in to Modbury, but her labour started in a gateway just past the Flete entrance. Nearly 60 years later I was driving to visit Mum in her care home. My phone rang as I was passing Flete, I pulled into the gateway to answer it and received the news that my mother had just died calmly and peacefully at the age of 92. It was the perfect place to hear the news, closing the circle beautifully.

  11. Lin Blackman
    Lin Blackman says:

    I was a Flete baby, born in December 1955. My father fell asleep after work on the bus travelling to visit me and woke up in Modbury. He stood in the centre of the road and flagged down a bus going towards Plymouth, that didn’t normally stop in Modbury, and the driver reluctantly let him get out at Flete. I’ve always missed the open days – just read about them after the event – so would be interested to attend any future days that are planned.

  12. Julie Nickols
    Julie Nickols says:

    I was born at Flete after my poor mother was in and out many times (I was always a bit slow!). It was quite difficult for the fathers getting there and back, but I’ve always been rather proud of a more stately birth place!

  13. Brenda Jones
    Brenda Jones says:

    My husband was born at Flete in 1953 whilst his father was still serving in the Navy. My Mother in law tells me how she used to walk into Modbury to get the labour going ! Lol. Just after he was born a visit from Lady ? Mildmay proved memorable for my Mother in law as her new precious son peed all over her!!! . Hope you get many more stories . I’ m sure there must be many !!

  14. Marilyn Harris
    Marilyn Harris says:

    I was born there in May 1952. My dad used to ride his bicycle from Brixton every day for two weeks to see my mum!! Whenever she talked of her labour, she said that she remembered pacing up and down the corridor on her own, with only dim green lighting for company!!!!

  15. Larrayne Smith
    Larrayne Smith says:

    I was a fleet baby too and that was in November 1957 so it was still a maternity hospital after ’56. My olde brother Chris was born there in July 1956, I wasn’t actually born there but I was taken out there the morning after I was born (2 weeks early due to Mum having toxaemia ). Apparently my Dad was fuming that they had moved us so early on that very cold November morning. I was actually born in Alexandra Nursing Home.

  16. Jill Straw
    Jill Straw says:

    Hi I was a fleet baby in August 1950 my mum was taken by bus before her due date to await my birth she told me she nearly gave birth on the great staircase because the midwife did not believe she was in labour.My dad used to walk from Plymouth twice a week to visit her as transport was very difficult. One day when the grounds were open she pointed out the room I wa born in .would love to see inside

  17. Denise Cooper nee Hamlin
    Denise Cooper nee Hamlin says:

    I am a Flete baby, born 1st January 1957. My mum, Joan Hamlin, nee, Balmain previously worked at Flete, occasionally helping to deliver babies.
    I currently live 3 miles up the road & every day draw back my curtains to see Flete House.

  18. barbara turney
    barbara turney says:

    I was a Flete Baby born May 1955 both my mother and I nearly didn’t make it and I had to have a complete blood transfusion and it was touch and go for a while but happy to say we are both still hear to tell the tale

  19. Carol bradley
    Carol bradley says:

    I was born 14 February 1951 ,I hadn’t returned until last year ,I was let in to ground floor and was struck by the grandeur,I even thought about looking at apartments there.

  20. Elizabeth Hill nee Collins
    Elizabeth Hill nee Collins says:

    I was a Fleet Baby and still have the photo of Fleet signed by Lord Mildmay. I was born on May 21st 1942. My Dad was an engineer I H M Dockyard Devonport. According to my Mum my Dad used to cycle out from Plymouth every night to see us both.

  21. Yvonne Petherbridge
    Yvonne Petherbridge says:

    I was a Flete baby. Born November 1950.
    Thick snow when I was born. Would love to have a look around Flete House (Castle).

  22. Magaret Gurry nee Deves
    Magaret Gurry nee Deves says:

    I was a Flete baby born the 17th February 1942, I was disappointed to have missed the reunion that was held some years ago. the photograph given to my mother has been lost. I would be grateful to hear if there are any photographs that can be purchased. I do have some newspaper cutttings and the report on the reunion of the babies born there.

  23. Adrian Paul Barter
    Adrian Paul Barter says:

    I was born at Flete on 15th January 1951, and always proudly put Modbury as my place of birth. I now live in Somerset but like to visit from time to time, especially the Exeter Arms, of course.

  24. Robert Burgess
    Robert Burgess says:

    I was a Flete baby in 1953. My mother had been living in the north east of England when she discovered that she was pregnant. Her boyfriend disappeared and, full of shame, she left to join her sister in Plymstock without telling her mother or other family that she was going to have a baby. Three months after I was born I was adopted by a family in Tavistock. I got in touch with my birth family around 2008, my mother had passed away earlier as had the sister that she joined when she knew that I was on the way. I was something of a surprise to my remaining aunt’s and uncles. The strangest coincidence is that I discovered this reference to Flete babies when researching a propertypical that I’m considering buying in the area.I now live in the south east of England .

  25. Lyn
    Lyn says:

    I have only recently discovered that I too, am a Flete baby! My dearly departed Mum had always told me I was born in Bideford. I left the U.K. To become an Australian citizen in 1972. I was born at Flete Maternity Home, Holbeton, R.D. And had always thought that the RD was Holbeton Road!

  26. Barbara Hnatiuk (Kemp)
    Barbara Hnatiuk (Kemp) says:

    I was born at FLeet HOuse on 11Jan 1942. My father was stationed in Plymouth. My mother’s family lived in Durham. My aunt travelled from Durham to help us back my mother was quite ill at the time. I was told that the train was stopped as there was a bombing raid and passengers had to take shelter under a bridge. I was baptised at Saint Michaels church in Plymouth and one of my god parents was a Mrs Hookway whom I never met. I would really like to hear about any reunion.

  27. Leanne M Roach
    Leanne M Roach says:

    My Father Michael Roach was a Flete baby and was born in August 1946 sadly his Mother disappeared soon after she had the last name Eccles if anyone remembers anything my dad would love to find out what happened. I’m searching but hard to find anything except marriage and birth certificate.

  28. Robert Brooks
    Robert Brooks says:

    I was born at Flete Manor House on Friday, March 13, 1942. I don’t remember anything about that day or the nearby years. I read that the mothers received a signed photograph of the manor so I asked my mother today if she had it. She doesn’t remember ever getting one. Perhaps someone would photograph theirs and post it on this webpage to help others who have lost their copy.
    It would also be useful to see a list in chronological order of the names and birthdays of everyone born there, or (being selfish) the first one thousand names.
    I now live in Ottawa, Canada but am visiting my mother living with my sister in Plymouth in 2017.
    Our parents lived through very frightening times especially being so physically close to those who might have invaded without warning at any time. We ought to regularly give God thanks for the courage of our parents as well as all those who served in the armed services. May He continue to protect the survivors and ease those who are suffering.

  29. Alan Kellett
    Alan Kellett says:

    I’m a Fleet Baby born bsnk holifay Monday 1st August 1955. My mother was in 3 weeks confinement there and is still alive, she can retail lovely stories of the grounds.

  30. Tara Lodzinski
    Tara Lodzinski says:

    I was also a Flete baby, born Feb. 3, 1949. Our family left England and wound up in western Canada. As a child I was quite excited to be told I was born in “a castle”. I still have a tiny newspaper cutting from the time Flete House was threatened with demolition which thankfully didn’t happen..

  31. Mary Elizabeth Elliott
    Mary Elizabeth Elliott says:

    I was born here 26 November 1949. My parents lived in Plymouth both navel people. Dad latterly in merchant navy. Dad’s family Elliotts lived in Plymouth and mostly lived in Devenport/Seaton areas. We as a family moved to Manchester in 1953.

  32. Derek Gosling
    Derek Gosling says:

    I was born in July 1950 at Flete House. My mother told me on countless occasions that I was actually born in Lord Mildmay’s bedroom which had then been turned into a small ward. I am not so sure now as Lord Mildmay was still in residence at the time!! My mother never mentioned ever meeting Lord Mildmay nor receiving a signed photograph of Flete.
    I understand that there is an open day in July and will attend once I establish the date! I am hoping to at least visit Lord Mildmay’s bedroom and am interested to know if there is a register of all the births at Flete for the babes to view.

    • admin
      admin says:

      Its amazing to hear from so many Flete babies; such a range of stories, all with very different endings.

      The gardens at Flete will be open to the public on the 2nd July in aid of St Luke’s Hospice. For more details see the St luke’s Website

      We hope to see many of you there


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *