Darwin, Lady Emma Cecilia 'Ida', 1854-1946 (née Farrer)
- Existence: 1854 - 1946
Lady Emma Cecilia 'Ida' Darwin (1854-1946) was the daughter of the civil servant Thomas Henry Farrer (1819-1899), 1st Baron Farrer and his first wife, Frances Erskine (1825–1870), whose father was the historian and orientalist William Erskine (1773–1852). The Farrer family lived at Bryanston Square in London and Abinger Hall in Surrey, where Ida and her father shared a love of botany. Thomas Farrer, the Board of Trade's first Permanent Secretary, was a keen amateur orchid breeder and in the early 1860s he corresponded with Charles Darwin and the two men became friends. In 1880 Ida married Sir Horace Darwin (1851-1928), civil engineer, fifth son of Charles Darwin. They had three children: Erasmus (1881-1915) who died at Ypres during the First World War, Ruth Frances [Rees-Thomas] (1883-1973), and Emma Nora [Barlow] (1885-1989).
Ida and Horace Darwin lived at ‘The Orchard’, a large house on Huntingdon Road in Cambridge. Ida joined the Ladies Dining Society, a private women’s discussion club, which championed women’s education and had a life-long association with the provision of mental health services and social work in Cambridgeshire.
Ida died on 5 July 1946. In 1962 her daughters Ruth Rees-Thomas and Nora Barlow donated their family home 'The Orchard' along with Ida’s celebrated garden, to help found Cambridge’s third women’s college, now known as Murray Edwards College.
Found in 11 Collections and/or Records:
Contains letters and papers held by Ida Darwin. The bulk of the collection are letters sent to Ida Darwin but also includes a small quantity sent to her husband Horace Darwin, a small collection of papers relating to the purchase of opals by her son Erasmus Darwin, a collection of envelopes addressed to and letters sent to Gwen Raverat, photographs of Ida's family, and a few items of ephemera.
Artificial collection of single item or small collection accessions. Mainly correspondence but includes other papers.
Contains nine letters addressed to Nora Darwin when she was a pupil at Levana, a small private school at Wimbledon Park run by Miss Alice Young, the headmistress and her two unmarried sisters. Nora's cousin, Gwendoline Mary Raverat (1885-1957) née Darwin, was a former pupil at the school. Includes a single letter from Ida Darwin to Nora dated 24 July 1903.
Contains 11 letters addressed to Nora Barlow née Darwin. The majority of the letters were written in September in the days following the birth of Nora's fourth child, Andrew Dalmahoy Barlow, born 16 September 1916 and include two letters from Ida Darwin and a letter from Gwen and Jacques Raverat. The letters from Ruth Darwin include descriptions of a visit to Somerset and Wales undertaken in late September with her parents.