Among them was Rosemary, who started working at Horsgate House in 1955, and colleagues Bobbie Taylor (now Freeland), Ann Reeves (now Small) and Jenny Harper (now Hartfield), who were all delighted to attend the reunion and share their stories.
The nurses have fond memories of life in the grand house, particularly the sweeping, highly polished staircase which dominated the hall and the beautiful gardens. “The building had so much character,” said Rosemary. “Our toddler room was the former billiard room.”
All the nurses remember being on their hands and Remembering Horsgate House knees polishing the wooden floors and having to the make perfect beds, complete with ‘hospital corners’! “Which I still do today,“ said Rosemary!
Staff were on duty 24 hours a day, and the morning shifts starting with the first feeds at 4.45am.
Older babies were fed sitting at a semi-circular table, designed so the nursery staff could feed several at one time. “It was a great design as we were able to sit as a family group but it was also easy to feed the children,” said Ann.
Read full article on pages 12/13.
By Claire Cooper
Memories came flooding back to a group of visitors to Cuckfield last month when the Museum played host to a very special reunion.
Twin sisters Anna and Mary Kelly were reunited with some of the nursery nurses who cared for them at Horsgate House when they were just two years old. The museum is currently running an exhibition on the history of Horsgate House and invited the group for a private visit.
The twins spent a year living in care at Horsgate House after their mother became unable to look after them. Although very young, the sisters made a lasting impression on the young nursery nurses, particularly Rosemary Bird (Birdy) who followed their progress after they were fostered and has kept in touch over the last 60 years.
Horsgate House was built in 1865 by the banker Robert Bevan. In 1947 the house was bought by East Sussex County Council and became a temporary home for 12 babies, 24 children and a team of six students and four staff nurses.