The Brocket Babies
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Facts and Figures
8,338 babies were born in Brocket Hall.
8,256 mothers gave birth in Brocket Hall.
The Hall was used as a 50 bed maternity hospital run by the Red Cross from 1939 to 1949 after a large part of the London City Road Maternity Hospital was damaged by fire.
Lord Melbourne's Room was the centre of the birthing, and the Prince Regent's Chinese Room was used for recovering mothers, some of whom remember being startled by the Chinese style wallpaper as the anaesthetic wore off.
Lemsford House, next to the church at the entrance to Brocket Hall, was used to accommodate unmarried mothers with illegitimate babies born in Brocket Hall.
The Brocket Babies include Colin Berry the Radio 2 presenter, and Mike Leigh the film director.
On the outbreak of War in 1939, the London
Maternity Hospital equipped and staffed Brocket Hall as a maternity unit for
evacuated mothers. The maternity hospital in City Road was badly damaged by
bombing on 10 September 1940, 16 April 1941 and 10 May 1941. Expectant
mothers who were willing to leave London were evacuated to Brocket Hall.
At the end of war in 1946 the City of London Maternity Hospital took over financial responsibility for Brocket Hall from Hertfordshire County Council. It was decided not to rebuild the hospital on the very noisy site in City Road. Former homes for the blind in Hanley Road, Islington, were acquired from the Institute for the Blind and the hospital opened in Hanley Road in November 1949.
The last Brocket Baby was born on 27th November 1949.
To see a copy of the discharge card given to mothers as they left click here
We know of only one Brocket Baby Couple. John Street born at Brocket Hall in April 1940 married Helen Page born at Brocket Hall in November 1941. They married in St Etheldreda's Church in Hatfield on 12th September 1964.
We think the birth records were destroyed by fire after they were returned to London but this has not been confirmed. This is a frequently asked question and we would welcome any research on this topic.
When one Brocket Baby started research regarding Brocket Hall, she tried the National Archives who put her on to The Welcome Foundation. They drew a blank and all they were able to say was that after Brocket Hall was closed the records were returned to the Royal Northern Hospital in London. When this closed down the records appear to have been lost. Nobody seems to know what happened after that. It's such a shame isn't it?
John Byrnes - When I was doing my research, I seem to re-call going to National Archive Centre - somewhere near Kew. Loads of old buildings, reminded me of school huts. I had to make an appointment, but once there the staff where really helpful. They even let me take away some of the paper work from the adoption file.
John adds: http://www.nationalarchies.gov.uk/ - can help point you in right direction. They also suggested The London Metropolitan Archives, 14 Northampton Road, London, EC1R 0HB, telephone 020 7332 3820. Their web site seems to start via City of London site www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/lma. Good Hunting To All Brocket Babies Looking For Historic Information.
A number of babies born at Brocket Hall were adopted. The two agencies that we know were involved are Hertfordshire County Council and the National Children's Adoption Society.
As far as we know only one Brocket Baby was baptised at Brocket Hall, to see a copy of the certificate click here
Brocket Hall was featured on television in April - in a re-run of Inspector Morse. It has also featured in a number of other films and programmes. The following link provides some more: