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Camilla "Chummy" Noakes (née Fortescue-Cholmondeley-Browne) is a nurse and midwife.

Appearance[]

Chummy is described as very tall. Her hair is brown and cut into a bob and she wears round-rimmed glasses.

Personality[]

"Eternally good-humored and monumentally kind, Chummy is crippled by lack of self-confidence. Her great height and physical clumsiness play its part, but a loveless childhood spent in boarding schools has made a greater impact. An adept midwife, she is hampered by acute shyness and – perhaps more crucially – a complete inability to ride a bike. Chummy soon wins the hearts of her colleagues, but her struggle for self-belief will threaten to capsize her". [1]

Biography[]

Pre-Series[]

Camilla was born into a wealthy family with aristocratic roots but turned her back on her birthright in order to work among the poor as a midwife in Poplar, East London. Standing an ungainly 6'1", she felt out of place in high society and instead dedicated herself to good works. She further turned her back on her roots by marrying an East End police constable, Peter Noakes, with whom she conceived a son, Freddie, whilst doing missionary work in Sierra Leone. Chummy is a devout Christian, often praying for courage or guidance, and when a young woman's baby died due to premature birth, she cries and holds her cross, saying a brief prayer for the stillborn.

She sometimes helps with The Beavers and Scouts and acts as their Scouts master. Her nickname “Chummy” comes from Cholmondeley, the second part of her triple-barreled surname (pronounced "Chumly").

As a very young girl, Chummy lived in India, where her father continued the family tradition of working in the Indian Civil Service. Her great-great-grandfather had entered the Indian Civil Service in the 1820s, as it was customary for younger sons of landed families to join the civil service or armed forces. Her father was Governor of Rajasthan and was later knighted for services to the Viceroy. Chummy was the only girl in the family and she and her six brothers were educated in England while their parents remained in British India. At age 6, Chummy was sent to boarding school and later attended Roedean School in Brighton, East Sussex, while her brothers all attended Eton College.[2]

Following Roedean, Chummy was sent to finishing school in Switzerland and Lucie Clayton Charm School in London. As expected of a girl of her class, Chummy was presented to the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace and kept a framed photo of herself alongside King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. She later reveals that she spent personal time with Princess Margaret, evident by how she knows how the princess acts after a few glasses of gin. After her debutante season, with apparently no offers of marriage, Chummy spent a year at a cordon bleu school in order to become the perfect society hostess. Despite all her training, Chummy remained awkward and ungainly and thus was then sent to the Royal School of Needlework in London, where she became quite skilled with sewing and embroidery.

However, she found the work unsatisfying and felt committed to the Roedean school motto, Honneur aulxdignes ("Honour the Worthy"). To the disappointment of her mother, she felt a calling to become a nurse and studied at the Nightingale School of Nursing at St Thomas's Hospital in London. There she felt her first taste of real success, winning the Nightingale Prize three years in a row. She then worked as a nurse for five years, enduring mockery and bullying from doctors and her other nurses, who played cruel pranks on her. She then decided to become a midwife and just scraped by in passing her exams while working as a trainee midwife.

Series 1[]

Upon arriving at Nonnatus House, Chummy immediately made an impression on the very prickly Sister Evangelina, who commented on her height, her mediocre grades in midwife training, and her pink uniform. Due to Chummy's height, she was unable to fit the largest nursing uniforms they had and had to borrow the house's sewing machine to alter it. However, due to her excellent sewing skills, this was not a problem for her. Chummy also did not know how to ride a bike, and thought initially that she could walk to all her patients. As the midwives cover 8 square miles, she soon learned walking would not be sufficient and was frequently chastised by Sister Evangelina for being late. Trixie and Cynthia helped her to learn, but not without frequent crashes, making her the object of ridicule for the neighborhood children. Her first ride solo with the other nurses caused her to crash into a police officer, Constable Peter Noakes. Thankfully, Peter did not arrest her, and to thank him, she later bought him a bottle of scotch.

As Chummy adjusted to life at Nonnatus and midwifery, she tended to be late or miss appointments in the district until she finally learned to ride a bike. She was also naturally extremely clumsy and tended to bump into things at the antenatal clinic. All these incidences just flared the ire of Sister Evangelina, whom Cynthia described as a "reverse snob" and who did not hide her resentment of the upper-class Chummy. Sister Evangelina angrily said that district nursing and midwifery were "stepping stones" to Chummy and that she was looking down on them all "from her great height." Chummy heard her but made no comment on the insults.

When the Sister found out that Chummy was missing appointments, because she still couldn't ride a bicycle, she viciously scolded her in front of the other nurses, stunning them all into an awkward silence. When Chummy tends to a breach birth for the first time, she calmly guides the mother through the ordeal and safely delivers the baby. Sister Evangelina sees this and begins to accept her as one of her own. When she gains confidence, Chummy's clumsiness improves and she never dropped so much as a bottle while working.

Despite her privileged but cold upbringing, Chummy is kind-hearted and generous. Her posh accent is out of place in Poplar, but she always makes her patients feel comfortable. She also buys a bicycle for a neighborhood boy, who rode with her and never allowed other children to tease her. Instead of making her bitter, her years of being the butt of jokes have made her very compassionate, which was on display in the empathy she showed for Lynette Duncan, an overweight teen whose size hid her own pregnancy.

Sister Evangelina, who quickly grows tired of Chummy and Constable Noakes' awkwardness around each other, arranges their first date. Their romance soon blossoms, despite the overt disapproval of Chummy's snobby mother, Lady Browne, who tries to talk her into being a spinster missionary ("because then at least our friends would understand it.") She stands up to her mother, however, and she and Peter Noakes are married at the justice of the peace.

She married Peter Noakes in the Series One finale, wearing a grey suit, much to her mother's horror. The bridesmaids, dressed in their uniforms, were her co-workers. The groomsmen, also dressed in uniform, were Peter's co-workers.

Series 2[]

In Series 2, Chummy found a longing within her to become a missionary in Sierra Leone. The idea seemed a perfect fit for her and Peter, but unknown to Chummy, was that for Peter to join in on the local police force in Africa, he must complete a strenuous physical exam. Angrily, Peter declared himself as "roly-poly" and Chummy realized she had been selfish in not considering Peter. However, after vigorous training with Fred, Peter was declared fit enough and was accepted into the African police force. The two left for Africa for six months. Chummy and Peter are given a serenade farewell.

After going to Sierra Leone, she comes back nine months pregnant at the end of Series Two. Her fellow midwives planned to deliver her baby, and had fun joking about how they were to treat their co-worker as any other pregnant woman. As Chummy's childhood was anything but loving and warm, she began to fear what sort of mother she would be, and if her child would be happy. Upon voicing her fears to Fred, the handyman, he assured her that parenting is about loving your child and about being there for them. Chummy's fears are put to rest, and she looks forward to motherhood. Chummy gives birth to her son in Episode 8 of the series.

However, Chummy's labor began to go wrong soon after it began, when the other midwives discovered blood all down the back of her nightdress. They soon learned Chummy had suffered a placental abruption, and two hemorrhages. The women of Nonnatus were all devastated, and even Sister Evangelina cried and told Peter to take care of her as the ambulance rushed away. Chummy was rushed to London for an emergency Caesarean section. As he waited, Peter was shown crying in the hall, worried about his wife and unborn baby. Her son was delivered safely and was healthy at birth. Chummy came out of theater looking pale, barely alive and still hadn't woken up the next day. She was also hooked to a glass bottle of blood. Jenny and Sister Julienne visited her, covered her with their homemade quilt, placed her baby beside her, and informed her that she had had a son. Only at that time did she wake up and ask "A boy?" proceed to tell her newborn, "Hello little bean, it's alright, I'm here."

Series 3[]

Chummy takes her mother back into her home, and in the final days of her life, Chummy finds it difficult to reconcile with her mother, given that there will be nothing to come after her mother dies, no bond to mend, no new memories to create together. She acts more a nurse than a daughter. When Lady Browne talks about the manicures she used to get every day whilst in India, Chummy declines to give her one. However, after the council from Sister Monica Joan, who tells her she will regret it for the rest of her life if she doesn't take the opportunity to reconcile with her mother, Chummy takes Trixie's manicure set and gives her mother a manicure. Lady Browne watches her daughter intently as she works, once running her fingers through Chummy's hair. Chummy nearly leans into the tender touch and remarks that her mother's never done that before. Lady Browne replies that she has when Chummy was a tiny baby.

Later, Chummy removes her nurse's uniform and crawls into bed with her unconscious and dying mother. She lies with her for hours while Lady Browne's breath comes slower and slower. Finally, Chummy tells her mother she loves her one last time, and Lady Browne takes in her final breath. Chummy is heartbroken by the loss, but in voice over, Jenny relays that the death was good, leaving a feeling of peace in its wake.

Series 4[]

In the 2014 Christmas special Chummy helps get two teenage mothers, Avril Fox and Denise Henshall to a mother and baby home, Astor lodge which was meant to be a brilliant place but turns out to be rather run down with a alcoholic matron. At the same time Peter is studying for his sergeants exam of which he’s failed twice beforehand. When Avril Fox takes charge and the matron legs it when she realises she could be charged for her negligence Chummy and Patsy take charge. Chummy comforts mother Yvonne Corless who’s baby Nicholas she was tricked into giving up. Because of the snow or rather tripping in it resulting in her missing the last bus she can’t get back to Peter and Freddie. The pair of midwives host a Christmas party for the girl, during the party Avril Fox goes into labour, Chummy delivers a little girl and while at first she planned on handing the baby off without even seeing it, she decides to keep her daughter on the encouragement of Chummy. She gets home for Christmas and Peter passes his exams, making him a police Sergeant..

Chummy decides to become temporary matron at the mother and baby home, she would be going there for several months. Peter stays in Poplar for a lot of the time and stays with the Sisters for his weeks of nightshifts. Chummy returns in S04 E08 with her mothers ashes, she confides to Trixie that she wants to scatter them somewhere her mother was happy, she couldn’t take them back to India and jokes she couldn’t do it at Fortnum and Mason, she is worried she is trapping her mother but she want’s to do it right as it was the last thing she would ever do for her. At the same time Fred Buckle and Violet Gee are to be married and Fred’s daughter Marlene interferes, and the engagement is called off, but Chummy gets the together and the wedding goes ahead with Violet and Marlene making peace. Finally Chummy scatters her mothers ashes over the Thames, letting go an turning the tide to the future.

Post Series 4[]

Chummy is not seen again though Peter is still seen with the midwives, she begins night school and takes up pottery, something Peter brands as interesting. Eventually, Peter is replaced by Sergeant Wolfe on the police force, as the Noakes family have left the district offscreen.

Relationships[]

Family[]

  • Husband, Sergeant Peter Noakes
  • Son, Fred "Freddie" Noakes
  • Mother, Artemis, Lady Browne (deceased)
  • Father, Sir Rex Fortescue-Cholmondeley-Browne
  • Unnamed brothers

Friends[]

Trivia[]

  • To date, the last episode of Series 4 is the last episode Chummy has appeared in. She was due to appear in the Series 5 finale, but Miranda Hart was unavailable due to other commitments. In February 2017, Hart revealed she was due to appear in the 2016 Christmas special but had to back out due to illness.
  • Prior to becoming a nurse, Chummy attended the Royal School of Needlework, which explains her mastery in embroidery and seamstress work.
  • Before qualifying as a midwife, Chummy worked as a hospital nurse for 5 years
  • Chummy spread her mother's ashes in the River of Thames, due to the fact that she felt her mother was free, only leaving the softest traces of herself wherever she went.
  • She named her son after Fred, because he taught her an important, simple truth of parenting

Quotes[]

"I generally answer to Chummy; my Pa used to say long dogs need short names."
- Chummy to Sister Evangelina

References[]

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