FIR HILL

1929 – 2004

Mrs Vida Schreiber

Brigadier and Mrs Myers owned Fir Hill for barely two years, and on 21 September 1973 they sold Fir Hill to trustees for Mrs Vida Schreiber (1910–2003), a widow then living in Bellasis House, Dorking. 

Life of Mrs Schreiber née Cuthbert

 

Mrs Schreiber, née Vida Cuthbert, married for the first time in 1934, to Squadron Leader Mervyn Herbert, 17th Baron Darcy de Knayth and Viscount Clive of Powis Castle. They had one daughter, Davina, before Viscount Clive was killed on active service flying a Mosquito on night patrol in 1943.

 

In 1944, Mrs Schreiber became lady-in-waiting to Princess Alice, the Duchess of Gloucester. Her future second husband, Brigadier Derek Schreiber (1905–1972) of the 11th Hussars, and serving in the Guards Armoured Division, was appointed Equerry and Chief-of-Staff to HRH the Duke of Gloucester (the third son of George V and Queen Mary) when the Duke became Governor-General of Australia in January 1945.

 

Both Lady Clive (as she then was) and Brigadier Schreiber therefore travelled to Australia in 1945 to perform their duties. They married in Canberra the following year and she then had a second daughter, Susan. Brigadier Schreiber was a long time director of Casenove, the brokers and investment bankers and became its Chairman. He was invested as a Member of the Royal Victoria Order and she was appointed an Officer of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. 

Mrs Schreiber at Fir Hill

 

Many people have recounted how Mrs Schreiber was very sociable and enjoyed giving parties at the house. She was also an enthusiastic bridge player. Her two daughters and their respective families were frequent visitors to the house.

 

One modification to Fir Hill that Mrs Schreiber instigated was the removal of the back stairs in the south wing and replacement by an Otis elevator (since removed). This was needed because of very serious injuries sustained in a car accident in 1964 by her elder daughter, Davina Ingrams, the 18th Baroness Darcy de Knayth (1938–2008), who inherited the title from her father, Lord Clive. After the accident, her daughter used a wheelchair and became a most effective supporter of the rights of disabled people as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords.

 

Sadly, one of the original trees from the 1760s, the Cedar of Lebanon, which had stood on the front lawn, fell during the Great Storm of 15 October 1987. It damaged the roof of the Victorian wing but, by a mircale, no one was hurt, despite people being in the kitchen at the time. They were saved by the sturdy branches of the tree that prevented it completely crushing the wing.

 

Fir Hill became an English Heritage Listed Building Grade 2 on 17 May 1989.

 

Mrs Schreiber died at Fir Hill on 15 February 2003. She had been ill for some years, during which she was looked after by two live-in staff.

Lady Clive marrying Brig Schreiber, Canberra, 1945.

Photographer: Alfred Amos, valet to the Duke of Gloucester, Governor General of Australia

Photo of Brigadier Derek Schreiber, Chief of Staff to the Governor General and Viscountess Clive, Lady in Waiting to the Duchess of Gloucester leaving St. John's Church after their wedding, Canberra, 24 October 1945

National Library of Australia, vn4660686-s86

Lady Clive marrying Brig Schreiber, Canberra, 1945.

Source: British Pathe

Mrs Vida Schreiber by the tulip tree, Fir Hill, 1990s

Source: Mrs Susan Gwyn

Fir Hill from the east and towards the river 1970–2004

The Cedar of Lebanon on the kitchen wing after the Great Storm 1987.

Reproduced with kind permission of Mrs Carole Acciari. Photo taken by Mr Pietro Acciari, 16 October 1987, from North End House, Droxford

Fir Hill from the west and towards the river 1970–2004

View from Fir Hill down to the River Meon, 2004.

Source: Savills

Research, words and web design by Matthew & Georgy.

 

We have tried to obtain consent to publish material that is still in copyright.

If you feel your rights have been infringed, please contact us and we will make any necessary changes.

  • Facebook App Icon