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
80 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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!”

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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 !!

    Reply
  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!!!!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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).

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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 .

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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..

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply
  33. Janet Trethowan
    Janet Trethowan says:

    I was born at Flete in 1947. My mother said that the windows were always open & all the women were scared of bats flying around!
    When we were children, every time we travelled from Plymouth to Bigbury, as we crossed the hump back bridge, we were all reminded of that story & how my father would ride his bike from the Dockyard, to visit.

    Reply
  34. Angela Chick nee Dade
    Angela Chick nee Dade says:

    I was born at Flete in July 1947 and I visited Flete House today to support St Luke’s Hospice, most nteresting tour of the house and the grounds were beautiful. My mother told me that she had a bath in one used by Queen Victoria and having heard the history of the house this might be true

    Reply
  35. Sandra Lloyd New Glinn
    Sandra Lloyd New Glinn says:

    I was born in flete house 9th of September 1944.

    I Was born at flet e house 9th September 1944.

    Reply
  36. Michael Roach
    Michael Roach says:

    I became a fleet baby on 22 August 1946 a few weeks later, my mother wraped me in a blanket put me in the coal bin behind the house and took off (a sign of things to come @ 70 entering the final few years of my working life driving a dump truck in a coal mine) anyway because of war injuries my father couldn’t look after me so raised by grandparents grandma believes i survived because she fed me brandy and milk (i am fond of brandy without the milk) came out with my grandparents in 1954 as they say the rest is history. Plan to visit UK end of 2018 for the first time since 1954 , would like to visit Fleet and Pensilve where i grew up until i was 7 years

    Reply
  37. Michael Roach
    Michael Roach says:

    My mother-in-law who has passed on now who’s favorite tv show was To The Manor born with Penelope Keith and Peter Bowels, with speech and mannerisms she kept saying she saw me as the Peter Bowels character, this is before i found out i was a Flete baby.
    Being a type of 1000 year castle and a manor house, to a certain extent you could say i was to the manor born, this would not have been lost on my sweet mother in-law who would keep reminding me and laughing while she is doing it…i do miss her

    Reply
  38. Mike Temlett
    Mike Temlett says:

    I was born at Flete on the 25th December 1951, mum always said I was the best Xmas present she ever had.
    Would like to visit.

    Reply
  39. Trevor Mooney
    Trevor Mooney says:

    Just come across this web site and have found a lot of the comments are very interesting. I came across it whilst searching Yealmpton. I always remember when I was young my mother talking about Lord Mildmay’s Estate and that I was born there. Sounded Posh when we were kids. Date of birth 2nd May 1953. So yes I am a flete baby. Dad served in the Royal Navy at the time.

    Reply
  40. Mrs L Ludkin
    Mrs L Ludkin says:

    I am trying to find out weather my father was a flete baby, he was born April 1953, Is there any records of babies delivered at flete house? thankyou.

    Reply
  41. Michael D Moschella
    Michael D Moschella says:

    I was born in January 1951. Mother was a WREN and father was serving in American Navy and at sea when I was born.

    Reply
  42. Pam lemin
    Pam lemin says:

    I was birn there in 1947 and my brother 1944, when I was born my dad was working as a driver for Western National, there were several other drivers with their wives in Flete at the same time, you can imagine they were all trying to be the driver on that route. Our mum said my brother was born in the tower,. We both went to the reunion that the one show did.

    Reply
  43. Lorraine Ann Jones
    Lorraine Ann Jones says:

    Lorraine Ann Jones Born Flete 3 March 1956. My mother’s name was Jean Olive Jones (9/9/36-4/7/12). Mum told me that the mums waiting to deliver were expected to help wirh chores and be helpful to the mums who had already delivered. I was 3 days old before my father managed to get over from Plymouth to see me. My mother had to make her own way home. She said it was snowing as she stood outside Flete with me in her arms and her suitcase beside her waiting for the country bus to Plymouth.when i was little my father would say i was a princess because i had been born in a castle. This may account for my airs & graces!

    Reply
  44. John Wilson
    John Wilson says:

    I’m trying to locate Michael John HOOPER ( subsequently adopted) who was born at Flete House on 9th February 1948. Is there anybody who could help[ ???

    Reply
  45. Michael Eaton
    Michael Eaton says:

    My name is Michael Eaton born at flete on Sunday 11 11 1951 what time at don’t know ,would there be any records and when will the next open day be please , armistice day baby .. many thanks

    Reply
  46. Barry Knox
    Barry Knox says:

    I was born at Flete 12th February 1948. Mum worked for the paper mill at Ivy bridge & Dad was in the army (6th Airborne). We were living at farmer Mole’s at Ermington where we had been evacuated to after a bomb had landed in the family home at St Judes. I live nearby at Elburton now.

    Reply
  47. Mrs Karen Williams
    Mrs Karen Williams says:

    Hello Everyone

    My name is Karen and I was born at Flete House on 11th October 1956. My mother has been recalling her time there and as I am now a widow, I have been considering downsizing and moving back to my roots (I live in Wimborne, Dorset).
    I am thinking of buying an apartment in Flete House (although maintenance costs of 1k are a shock!)
    I would love to end my days there…although in my head I’m still only 21,

    Reply

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