Nursing Home (Maternity Home) & Doctors Graham and Issbister

Graham, a former Bagshot baby has written from Canada:

My mother gave birth to triplets. I am one of them. We were born in a nursing home on the Camberley side of Bagshot.  I would like to know if the old house is still there. My mum was visited by the Duke of Connaught and he presented her with three guineas. The King also sent my mum the same amount. I would like to know if anyone would have known Dr. Graham or if this home was just used during the war.  I spent a happy childhood around Camberley and the Bagshot area. 

I assumed the maternity home the writer was referring to was "The Cedars", an 18th century building at the end of the High Street.  It used to be home of some "important person" (possibly Lady Fuller) and is now used as offices.  I thought that between these two uses it had been uses both as a maternity home and social housing, but I was mistaken.

I have not heard before of the Duke visiting mothers, or of such gifts from the Duke, and especially the King.  The Duke would have been aged 90 at the time.

However, in further correspondence Graham tells us:

Multiple births were quite rare so the Crown used to pay a bounty. This practice stopped either in the late fifties or early sixties. I have a copy of the letter from Windsor Castle that accompanied the cheque. The doctor gave my Mum the three guineas and kept the cheque as a memento of the births.

The nursing home I was enquiring about was called Duchess of Connaught Memorial Nursing Home. The nursing home was a bit further along from where you indicated but still on the left hand side. My Mum used to always point the old house out to us whenever we came through Bagshot. It was nice of the Duke to visit my Mum even though he was only allowed to speak to her through a glass panel. I hope this has added a little to Bagshot's history. I hope someone can find out about the old nursing home.

Wendy wrote with a location and a very close date for its closure:

The Nursing Home was on the corner of what is now Lambourne Road and the A30. It was closed sometime between March and July 1952  - I was due to have been born there but it was closed by August.  Our local Doctor lived on the corner of School Lane and his name was something like Dr. Issbister.

Gillian Trueman confirms

Dr Issbister's house was, as mentioned by Wendy, at the bottom of School Lane, opposite Myrtle Cottages, Jenkins Hill. My mum always took me in the entrance off School Lane, but once we went thru an entrance off Jenkins Hill. You can see where they have bricked that entrance up from the main road. May I say, I wish we could have more doctors like him. For a child to remember a doctor after ?? years, he must have been special! x8

Dave writes from Sussex

I was born in the nursing home Wendy mentions. Dr Issbister was his name and he treated my finger when it had the top knocked off in the school gates!

Elspeth asks

I am interested to know more about Jessie Alexander who was Honorary Matron of the Duchess of Connaught Memorial Nursing Home, Bagshot for 19 years. She died in 1936. Before that she was matron of Paisley Royal Infirmary in Scotland. What brought her to Bagshot? Did she have a relative in the area or a connection with the Duke of Connaught, who founded the hospital?  [22 Aug]  

From a book by the late John Jillings I learn that

'Hunmanby House' was purchased by the Duke of Connaught and given to the village as a nursing home in 1921 in memory of his wife and his daughter Margaret (Crown Princess of Sweden ). It had three wards and an operating theatre. Following the National Health Service Act of 1946 it was transferred to the Ministry of Health and was closed in 1952. In 1955 the building was sold to the council and converted into five flats and a cottage.  It is now known as Gloucester Court.

Source: A Walk Around Bagshot
John H Jillings
Published by Surrey Heath Museum, 1995

The building described by John Jillings is where Chapel Lane meets the A30 - a little nearer to Camberley than Wendy describes.  location

A double fronted red brick building with white columned porch, nearly hidden behind a dense holly hedge.

When she saw this picture, Wendy wrote back that she really did not think this was the building or the location, recollecting a grey building, no longer there, nearer the village. Two of Bagshot's older resident have confirmed to me that the pictured building was the nursing home. 

Michael Mancy confirms the location: 

My birth certificate shows that I was born in the Duchess of Connaught Memorial Nursing Home, Bagshot, Windlesham. When I was a young boy I travelled regularly by bus from Cranford to Camberley with my parents to visit my grandparents. My mother always showed me the house I was born in as we drove past. It is the house shown on your website. [Dec 14] 

June recounts:

My brother James and myself were born in the Nursing Home. On our Birth Certificates it states: "The Duchess of Connaught's Memorial Nursing Home, Bagshot R.D."

My Mother used to say: "This was where you were born" when we passed by along the A30. Left hand side of the main London Road. Also she said the Duke of Connaught gave this building to be used as a Nursing Home to commemorate the death of his daughter in childbirth. The photograph is as my Mother told me. My Mother is no longer alive...always too late to ask more questions!!

Michael writes from the USA

I was born in Woking. We lived in Bagshot until 1951. We moved to New York City in December of 1951. Do you remember the Bagshot cinema?, a grand old place. I spent many a Saturday watching Treasure Island and the adventures of PC49 there. It's too bad it's no longer in operation. Incidentally, I too was delivered by Dr.Graham. My mother named me after him, Michael Graham. My wife and I vacationed in England in 2000. We visited Bagshot; my how the place had changed.

I do not know when the cinema was demolished, but by the time I came to Bagshot it had been replaced by an office block.

The late Alan Gosden wrote:

I lived in College Ride and born in the old Nursing Home. I remember Dr Issbister vividly, plus other old Bagshot characters. I played in Bagshot Band in 60s. 

Who could forget Dr Isbister ? He would do a home visit and warm his bottom against the open fire while doing the examination.

From Ron Frost: Dr Graham's house and surgery was a large white building in about an acre of ground on Guildford Road, about half way between Lightwater and Bagshot. It was demolished to build the M3 motorway. Dr Graham was a very good GP, he worked alone all through the war years and would turn out to patients at any time day or night. One paid him cash in hand, 3 shillings and sixpence (0.175) if you went to his surgery, 5 shilling (0.25) for a day time visit or 7 shillings and sixpence (0.375) for a night time visit. Most poorer Mothers had their babies at home, assisted by a Mrs Pullen, a local woman who usually got 10 shillings (0.50) for a delivery. Fathers were never at home during the birth in those days. ref Feb06

Another baby born here is Gillian Trueman who writes: SepOct08

I also was born in the Nursing Home you mention. My Mum took me to see Dr Issbister in a large house just down from the Home. Both buildings are still standing. The only building that has been demolished in recent years is The Pantiles which was a great shame. Old peoples flats are now standing in its place. I now live in Camberley just up the road so I keep an eye on my home town. Thanks for the memories.

Looking into the background of the Nursing Home I found its proper name was Duchess of Connaught Memorial Nursing Home and Benefit Nursing Association, Jenkins Hill. The president was The Lady Patricia Ramsay, Vice President was H.H. Princess Helena Victoria. This information was taken from a Mays Directory of Bagshot and Camberley 1939 Price 6d phone numbers being only two digits!!! This is a good little book to have.

Reg Holbrook writes from New Zealand: "I was born in the Lady Connaught nursing home - my father was in the army and we lived in Bisley. " {Apr10 xx}

From Jennifer Norman {Apr 11}: I can remember Dr Issbister. There were no appointments in those days. You just waited in his very small waiting room which was not very cheerful. It was painted in either a very dull blue or grey. His surgery was very different with wood panelled walls and an old roll top desk. he was very good at home visits and I too remember him standing in front of the fire to warm himself. He had a daughter who went to Art School some time in the 50s.

From David Waskett {Apr 11}

I lived about 3 doors away (towards Camberley) at The Spinney, Jenkins Hill. I have been told that when I was about 3 or 4 years old in the early 1950's I opened the big green gate to the right of the maternity home and seeing several prams with babies in. I think it was an airing court. Apparently I then climbed up onto a pram and fed a baby some stones. I have been told that I could just reach the handle of the pram and so it seems I took the pram out onto the pavement next to the busy A30. I gather the mother was watching from an upstairs room and screaming. I must have been stopped before any harm was done!! The only thing I can recall is feeding the baby with stones.

Sometime in the mid-late 1950's the maternity home was converted to flats. As we did not have TV at home the lady who lived in the flat at the top of the stairs (which I believe has been the delivery room) used to leave her flat unlocked when she was at work so I could go and watch her TV when I got home from school. I cannot remember her name but ,boy, it says something of the period that she could leave her flat unlocked!!

I remember Dr Issbister very well with his Scottish accent. All he ever seemed to say was "Take an Aaasprin" (Aspirin). He drove a battered Morris Minor and he was the despair of the garage owner who had his premises next to the Methodist Chapel on Jenkins Hill. His car always had a dry battery but seemed to work. He was always nice to me.

When he called at my home in winter he used to love sitting on the fireguard above a very hot Tortoise stove. One day he forgot to check if the fireguard was there and sat straight onto the hot stove!!

It was actually Mrs Issbister who terrified me. As I recall the door into the small waiting room was off School Lane. I think one rang a bell and waited for Mrs I to appear. She always seemed to say "What do YOU want" in very stern tones and if the waiting room was full if was a terrifying moment for a small boy as one had to blurt out what was wrong with one. Dr Issbister used a very large room as his surgery and I think it had a lot of wood paneling and a large bow window.

From Derek {Jul 11}

My mother told me that I was born in the "Nursing Home" in Bagshot. However my Birth Certificate gives Chertsey, Sub-District Chobham. My mother also mentioned a prize awarded, and given by the Duke of Connaught at a local Fete (presumably in the following months). The Duke congratulated my mother and said that "I would make a fine soldier when I grew up" - a sentiment not appreciated by my mother at the time as she was married to a serving soldier!

The explanation of the place names on Derek's Birth Certificate is simple, but something that causes conciderable confusion among people who are starting to trace their family history. A "full" birth certificate will give the actual place of birth (in Derek's case the Nursing Home in Bagshot) but a "short" birth certificate does not give the address, only the name and date of birth together with the Registration District in which the birth was registered. You have to pay for the birth certificate and a full one costs a lot more than a short one - hence many people only end up with a 'short' one. You can get a copy of your full birth certificate for 9.25 from
Bagshot is and was in the Windlesham civil parish which in turn was part of the Chobham sub-registration district within the Chertsey Registration District. See The names given to registration districts appear to be based upon a place geographically near the middle of the area covered without regard to the relative importance of the place - this can add to the confusion!.

From Ann Roberson nee Kircher {Oct 11}

I was born in Bagshot Nursing home. My mother who was staying with Mrs Ellen Kircher who lived in Rose Cottages, Jenkins Hill only had to walk across the road - so very convenient.

Graham sent me this extract from the Camberley News of July 1940

Nursing Home Record

For the first time in its record the Duchess of Connaught Memorial Nursing Home, Bagshot, has been the scene of the birth of triplets. The triplets, two boys and a girl, were born on Sunday to Mrs Kathleen Simpson whose home is at 22, Barrosa Road, Camberley. The father is a soldier who was in the B.E.F in France, and is in the hospital as the result of wounds received at Dunkirk. They have three other children. Mother and children are doing well. The weight of the children at birth were 5lbs. 5lbs. and 3lbs. H.R.H The Duke of Connaught was at once informed and has taken the keenest interest in the progress of Mrs Simpson and her family.

Graham wrote again in August 2005 to say that he had heard from a relative that the Nursing Home had been demolished and wondered what was going to happen to the site. The former Nursing Home has not been demolished, but some houses on the other side of Chapel Lane and what had been a commercial vehicle repairer's workshop have been demolished and residential apartments are being built in their place.

Early in 2006 Sam, a former resident of the house, wrote confirming the location at the junction of Chapel Lane and the A30 and providing this update and information:

The house has been converted again in to 8 single rooms for temporary accommodation and is now called Connaught Court. The cottage has also been converted into two single flats. ref 626.0206

I have been inquiring about the building and its history astounds me. There is a plaque inside the building that records the gift to Bagshot.

loving memory of his wife H.R.H LOUISE MARGARET, DUCHESS OF CONNAUGT and
of his daughter H.R.H MARGARET, CROWN PRINCESS OF SWEDEN. July1921.

There is also a second, very much smaller, plaque that tells how it was left to Bagshot in 1921 when it was turned into a hospital for the people of Bagshot. Following the formation of the NHS it was no longer required and passed to the council for social housing. ref 626.030

It is possible that the rear of the building (not seen in the photo) was at one stage grey. It is now covered by white render but no-one I've contacted can remember . Two elderly people who came to the property remembered how the two buildings at the court were once linked .

The issue of a grey or white building nursing home arose again when Gloria wrote from America : I was born in Bagshot Nursing Home, we lived in Staines and Mum had to travel to Bagshot to have me. Dad was in the army away in the war and Mum lived with her Dad.  I remember Mum saying once when we drove through Bagshot that was where you were born, and I seem to remember a white or grey building there but couldn't say exactly where it was. Funnily enough back in '67 and '69 I had two of my children in Windlesham nursing home, again all the way from Staines. I would live to see a photo of the nursing home, I'm sure it wasn't red brick though. ref653.0306

"How delighted I was to have found the photograph of Bagshot Nursing Home. It is exactly as I remember it from the early 1950's. I too was born in the nursing home. At that time my parents were 'in service' in the employ of Edgar Vandespar at Mulroy House where they occupied the gate lodge"  Mike Green May05

We have a significant majority of people saying that the red brick building pictured above is the former nursing home, and the evidence of the plaque inside the building. But it intrigues me that I have a few correspondents who, quite independently, recall a grey or white building. I have a vague recollection of a grey building that fits the description and location Wendy gave (on the A30 on the Camberley side of the junction with what is now Lambourne Drive). I think it was demolished in the 1970's to be replaced by flats (I assume social housing). An old map indicates that the building was called Belleview House.  Do you recall this building, and do you know what it was used for?

From Deborah Rumbles:  I was born in a nursing home in Bagshot, I am not sure which. My mother was sent there by the doctor after experiencing two difficult confinements previously, I am sure it was not a private nursing home as there was never any talk of how much it cost. I would like to know which nursing home it could have been and also what happened to the birth records after closure. I would be interested in finding out the exact time of my birth. Can anybody help? {Dec 13}

From Rosemary Whisson (formerly Williams) : Both my mother and I were born at the Duke of Connaught Nursing Home. My mother's parents lived in Lightwater and she was born in 1924.  [Jan 17] 

From BK :  I was born there too in 1947 and a few years ago my wife and I detoured off after a holiday. It was a hostel now for young people and a nice young girl coming out the front door invited us in to see the plaque as shown by another previous contributor. My mother died a few years back and we have since wondered how she got there in labour as she lived with a sister in Egham after she married my Dad just after the war? They were both ex service personnel. It was so nice to see it and lovely to know the history as we rely on NHS (and can take it for granted sadly) but of course this was before and it was good to know that places like this existed because of the generosity of other wealthier people because life events for themselves were sad. All the money in the world can not make us immune from the storms of life but it can trigger the need to be addressed by someone who has experienced great sadness.  [Sep 2021]  

Can you can add anything about the nursing home, or about Dr Graham or Dr Issbister?

Windlesham Nursing Home

In addition to Bagshot's nursing home on the A30 London Road there was also a nursing home in Windlesham on Hatton Hill.  The building is still there operating as a day nursery and pre-school.

Alex MacDonald writes: I was sent to a Bagshot nursing home in the early 1950's with my sister when my mother was ill. I seem to remember a playroom at the front and cots in a room behind. They had some play areas out front. My father bought me a red truck. They sit it on a high shelf and the milk was discusting, I often cried in my cot at night.  My father may have been in the Canadian Army at this time. [Nov 13]

I am not sure whether Alex's description of what sounds to be residential accommodation for children who are separated from their parents, together with a play area in front, aligns well with 'Hunmanby House' and the Duke's Memorial Nursing Home. Given that we have had several correspondents describe a location other than that of 'Hunmanby House' I wonder if Alex's experiences were at another home, either in Bagshot or perhaps the nursing home that was at Hatton Hill in Windlesham (which does have space in front).  

A lady who I will refer to as Lynda-Marie has written:  I am wondering if anyone knows which of the maternity homes in Windlesham were for unmarried mothers. I was born in 1957 in Windlesham and wonder which one it might have been.  [Apr 18] 

I was not aware of more than one nursing home in Windlesham, and would not have expected that there was justification for a home dedicated to unmarried mothers.  Do you know any better?

Kirko, an expat now living in Wester Australia writes:  The maternity hospital for unmarried mothers may be referring to the Convent of the Good Shepherd that was at Highams Corner in Windlesham which ran a facility for unmarried mothers. The girls worked in the then Windlesham Laundry based at the convent and when the baby was born I believe it was removed and adopted out. One of the more unsavoury parts of our history. This was common practice in many convents at the time. This would have been similar to the story in the film "Philomena" with Judy Dench in it. [sep 18]  

Max has written "I was born at Windlesham Maternity Home, Hatton Hill in 1953. The matron was D.E. Grey-Wilson. My mother was also unmarried so this could well be the place Lynda-Marie is  thinking of. Any information regarding this home such as residents, staff, memories etc. would be greatly appreciated, as soon after I wasput into care under Dr. Barnardo's" [Aug 19]  

Lynda-Marie has been able to confirm that she was born in the Hatton Hill home, so that aspect of this enquiry is now closed, but Max's request remains open.

This is just one of many pages on this web site that contains reminiscence about old Bagshot.  See here for others.
My web site is not just about old Bagshot though, as you will see from the index page.
If you are looking for birth records then see here.

Many of my pages have been prompted by, or include questions or information from, my readers. If you can add anything to the above please write to me using the message pad below.

This page is part of the Bagshot village web site.

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