Baby Elsie in ship-shape despite dramatic birth in car at Sutton Hoo

Anna and Matthew with son Charlie and new born Elsie at the entrance to Sutton Hoo, where she arrived on Friday

Anna and Matthew with son Charlie and new born Elsie at the entrance to Sutton Hoo, where she arrived on Friday - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

A baby girl made a dramatic entrance as she was delivered in a car outside the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial ship site.

Mum and dad Anna and Matthew Barkway were rushing to get to Ipswich Hospital after Mrs Barkway went into labour on Friday, but the tot clearly could not wait to catch a glimpse of the famous 6th Century grave, which is believed to be that of Raedwald, King of East Anglia. 

Anna and Matthew with son Charlie and daughter Elsie outside Sutton Hoo

Anna and Matthew with son Charlie and daughter Elsie outside Sutton Hoo - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

She awoke at 5am on Friday with labour pains at her home in nearby Ipswich Avenue, Sutton Heath and rushed to get into the couple’s Ford Focus estate, driven by Mr Barkway. 

However, they were only able to travel three miles before they had to pull in, where her husband delivered overdue Elsie, who should have arrived on May 8, in the footwell of the front passenger seat. 

To add to the drama, Elsie initially was not breathing, but thankfully she took her first breath and ‘screamed’ after Mr Barkway, a soldier with 23 Engineer Regiment, rubbed her back.

Anna Barkway gave birth to Elsie close to the entrance to Sutton Hoo 

Anna Barkway gave birth to Elsie close to the entrance to Sutton Hoo - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

“I was saying I wanted to push, but my husband was telling me to keep calm and ‘just breathe’. Before we got there, I just said ‘I need to push’ and my husband pulled into the safe place which just happened to be at Sutton Hoo. 

“He ran around and caught Elsie as she was going into the footwell. Initially, she wasn’t breathing and the cord had snapped. It was all a little bit scary,” Mrs Barkway said. 

Most Read

In all, she was only in labour for an hour before the baby arrived and received help from her mother Helen, 60, who came down from her home in Knodishall to look after their son Charlie, four. 

The 25-year-old nursery nurse added: “My husband was very shaken up and very scared. We have had a bit of a tough time recently losing grandparents, but he did amazingly. He just dealt with it so, so well. 

“There was a moment at the hospital where he sat there with a piece of toast and I could see his face and could tell he was thinking, ‘Wow, what just happened?’” 

Elsie and her parents have now returned home from hospital where the baby is doing well and Mr Barkway, 27, has nicknamed her ‘Kerby’ in recognition of her roadside birth. 

The historic Sutton Hoo ship burial site is renowned as a popular tourist attraction, receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.