Farrer, Dame Frances Margaret, 1895-1977 (public servant)
Dame Frances Margaret Farrer was born on 17 March 1895 at 24a Bryanston Square, London, the first daughter and middle child of Thomas Cecil Farrer (1859–1940), second Baron Farrer of Abinger, and his wife, Evelyn Mary, née Spring-Rice (1862–1898), musician and daughter of Charles William Thomas Spring-Rice. Her paternal grandfather was Thomas Henry Farrer, first Baron Farrer, permanent secretary to the Board of Trade. Frances's older brother, Cecil Claude Farrer (1893–1948), became third Baron Farrer, and her younger sister, Katherine (Kitty) Dianthe (1896–1986), married, in 1922, Edward Ettingdene Bridges, first Baron Bridges. Farrer spent her early childhood at 24a Bryanston Square, before attending St Leonard's School, St Andrews, after which she studied economics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and took a second in Part Two of the economics tripos in 1917. On leaving Cambridge Farrer worked first in the Ministry of Shipping (1917–18) and then spent eighteen months as the forewoman on the Statistical Party in the Office of Woods and Forests (1918–20). It was in the 1920s that she first came into contact with members of the Women's Institute (WI), having helped to found and become the first secretary of the WI branch at Abinger Hammer, Surrey, in 1920. During the mid-1920s she travelled to India with her family and drove back across the desert in an eight-wheeled vehicle, via Baghdad, a journey that had its share of dangers. On her return she became a rural organizer for the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) and in 1928 was appointed its assistant secretary. In the following year she became the federation's fourth general secretary; in post for thirty years she remains its longest serving leader. In June 1950 Farrer was created a dame of the British empire in recognition of her contribution to the NFWI and the country in wartime, and for her twenty-one years of public service. She remained as general secretary for a further ten years. Frances Farrer retired as general secretary of the NFWI in autumn 1959. During her thirty years the federation had grown from 4244 institutes in 1929 to more than 8300, and had emerged as an important national campaigning organization. In the year following her retirement Farrer became a member of the Post Office advisory council and the committee on rural bus enquiry for the Ministry of Transport (1959–61), in which capacity she became a firm defender of rural communities. She was also a member of the Independent Television Authority (1957–64) where she argued for ambitious programme making to reflect the country as a whole rather than falling into the trap of reinforcing regional stereotypes. A passionate music lover, she was the honorary secretary of the Leith Hill Musical Festival between 1920 and 1940 and the director of Abinger Hall estate, Surrey, her old family home, from 1957 to 1961. She remained single throughout her life and died on 27 January 1977 at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford, after a car accident outside her home.
Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:
Two letters sent from Fanny Farrer to Ida Darwin on 6 September and 20 November 1910. The letters contain family news, an account of a holiday in Westmoreland in August 1910 and a description of Fanny's school days at St. Leonards School in St. Andrews, Fife.
Contains 30 letters from Nora to Ida Darwin sent between 12 January and 23 December 1912.
Includes a letter from Alan Barlow to Ida and letters from Frances 'Fanny' Farrer, [Mary] Farrer, Gulielma Lister and Evelyn Whitehead to Nora.