Thursday, 28 May 2009

Lady 'Nina' Herbert 1874 -1967

Nina and Alfred Herbert at Dunley c. 1953 [Photo by Gavin Vapenik, his grandson]. Click here for more photos

Marian Fraser Arundel (known as Nina), was born in 1874 in India, the second daughter of Sir Arundel Tagg Arundel KCIS. Her elder sister was Violet - always known as Vi, who married Evelyn Norie.

She married Archie Pugh - later Col AJ Pugh CBE, VD on 18th December 1904 in Calcutta Cathedral. He was a solicitor in Calcutta and and a member (and from 1912 Colonel) of the Calcutta Light Horse for 32 years. They had six children - Archie ((1908), Jimmie (1910), Annette born in 1911, Ivor (1916) Michael (1918) and David (1922). The children were brought up mainly in Wales, at the family home at Cwmcodwig, Llanfarian. Their cousin Ruth Howard (born 1910) who remained a close friend of Annette's all her life has written about their childhood in a short memoir. An excerpt dealing with Nina and her family can be found here.

Col Archie Pugh died in Wales in 1923, aged only 52.

Nina remarried Sir Alfred Herbert KBE (who we called 'Step') in September 1933 becoming his third wife and devoted herself to his business Alfred Herbert Ltd in Coventry and around the world and his estate at Dunley in Hampshire. She was accompanied everywhere by her spaniel 'Bramble'. June Vapenik (Sir Alfred's grandaughter) and her husband Milo used to put them up at their house at Leamington during the war to avoid them sleeping in their flat over the works at Edgewick during the bombings.

Step called her 'an angel' - and indeed she was a beautiful and gentle soul who loved poetry, studied Ramakrishna and other great texts and became a Christian Scientist. This latter teaching caused the only arguments between Step and Nina, when a doctor was consulted when David Pugh had polio.

After his death in 1957, she moved to Wadwick House near the Dunley Estate accompanied by some of the staff including Mackenzie. In 1962, she opened the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry as well as conducting a number of other civic duties, such as attending the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral.

The brochure accompanying the opening of The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in 1962, showing Sir Alfred (who had died in 1957) and Lady Herbert

She sadly suffered a stroke in 1963 and was nursed at home by two Sicilian nurses, Maria and Conchita, until she died in 1967. She is buried in Wales.

Return to Sir Alfred Herbert Index

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