Ida Margaret Wimbush
Ida Margaret WimbushView full burial details
in the cemetery
Ida Wimbush (née Hughes) was born Ida Margaret Hughes in 1884 in Castle Bromwich, the youngest of five surviving children. Her family was wealthy – her father having inherited the running of a metal works in central Birmingham founded by his father. Her father died unexpectedly while on the way to work when Ida was four. Her dominant mother then took over running the family and taking care of the business, and there was much dissent in the family and local community when in 1898 she married a much younger man who was an employee of the firm. The elder children were already grown up. An epistolary account of the family at this time by Ida’s brother Jack can be read in the book Dearest Beatie, My Darling Jack. To avoid gossip in Birmingham, Ida’s mother moved to Bromsgrove, and Ida was sent to school at a convent in Aix. Here she met Hugo von Grundherr, the brother of a German fellow student.
In the early 1900s Ida studied in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), although she never pursued a professional career on the stage.
Ida’s mother had been friends with the mother of Nelson Norman Wimbush, both being members of the local dramatic society. When Ida was twelve, she briefly met Norman, then aged sixteen. Their lives moved apart, and at the beginning of 1908, Ida married Hugo von Grundherr in Erdington, Birmingham. They first lived in Wiltshire where their daughter Joyce was born and then in Germany and Austria where their son Peter was born.
In 1913 they moved to Chichester (Pallant House, now an art museum). From 1914, Britain was at war with Germany and in August 1914, Hugo was arrested and interned because he was a German citizen. Since married women took their nationality from their husband’s, Ida was now technically also a German citizen, though living in England and totally British in ancestry and background. The marriage came to an end and Ida successfully applied to have her citizenship restored. She and her children took her original Hughes surname.
Norman and Ida came together again and married in the church in Bromsgrove, where Ida’s mother lived, in 1920.
When Norman obtained a post as a lecturer with the London County Council the family set up home in Harrow with Ida’s two children from her first marriage. Ida and Norman had 2 daughters, Joanna (1922-2013) and Mary (1924-2005) while they were living in Harrow.
In 1929 the family moved to a large house in Berkhamsted, The Chalet (situated where Chalet Close now is), which was at the end of Shootersway Lane. Norman’s mother, Annie, moved into the adjacent Chalet Lodge (now The Lodge).
During their life in Berkhamsted Norman and Ida were both members of the dramatic section of the Berkhamsted Operatic and Dramatic Society, Ida acting in several productions and Norman writing plays that were produced by them.
Ida was prominent in the Northchurch Women’s Institute and Norman acted as an air-raid warden during the war – and during this period wrote a detailed memoir of his early life as mentioned above. They housed evacuees from London, refugees from central Europe and members of the Free French at the Chalet during the war.
In 1961 Ida and Norman found maintaining the large house too demanding and moved to a house at the end of Kingsdale Road which they named Arlescote after the village where Norman’s ancestors had originated. When Ida died in 1963, Joanna arranged for the garden to be divided and a new wooden house to be erected in the further half, named Edgehill (now Woodlands). Norman lived here, cared for sometimes by Joanna and sometimes by au pairs, until his death, on holiday with Joanna in Germany, in 1965.
Ida’s daughter by her first marriage, Joyce, is buried, along with her husband and eldest son in Kingshill Cemetery, which replaced Rectory Lane Cemetery in the 1950s.