Red Teddy once belonged to a girl called Audrey Baines whose family lived at 10 Melbury Gardens in Wimbledon. Five-year-old Audrey badly wanted a red teddy bear for Christmas 1932. Her father eventually went to Harrods, the department store that claimed to be able to get you anything, and so Red Teddy came to Wimbledon. During the day on 30 June 1944 the family dog, a cocker spaniel called ‘Merry’, insisted in sleeping in the air raid shelter in their garden and not in the house. The family had not used their shelter for years because it was damp, slimy and uncomfortable inside.
That night the Baines and their neighbour decided to copy the dog and stay inside the shelter, and so saved all their lives. A flying bomb hit their house during the night at 2.50 am, completely demolishing it. Only three objects survived – Mr Baines’s top hat, a chamber pot, and Red Teddy.
Audrey Noël Hume (née Baines) (1927-1993) was joint honorary Curator of the Museum of Wimbledon with her husband Ivor Noël Hume in 1951. Both were well known archaeologists in Britain and America. Audrey was a clay pipe specialist.
The story of Red Teddy is based on conversations with Audrey and Noël published in Riddle of the Future by Andrew MacKenzie in 1974 and on emails from the late Ivor Noël Hume (1927-2017), who kindly donated Red Teddy in 2016.