McMaster 1918 - 2014
Ida was a
fountain of knowledge concerning the history of Mount Bures
from the Saxons to the present day.
She was not only the local historian, but her talents extended
to amassing a considerable aerial photographic collection
of crop circles around North East Essex.
the culmination of decades of her work being published in
the book, "Mount Bures its Lands and its People".
This was in partnership with her very close friend Kathleen
Evans, Ida was the source of the historical material while
Kathleen was the typist and proof reader.
always insisted that if I ever quoted the book in any of
my publications, I was to make certain that her friend Kathleen
was also mentioned as the co-author. She was adamant that
the book was a joint venture and not just an Ida McMaster
She subsequently told me that
when she received the initial print run of 500 copies back
from the printers, she made a personal visit to everyone in
the village "suggesting" they purchase a copy.
Obviously with this "formidable sales technique"
the book was soon on its way to becoming a Mount Bures best
Ida was also a founder member of this web site.
I recall visiting her back in 2000 with some trepidation and
explained her my project was too set up a joint web site incorporating
Bures Hamlet, Bures St Mary and Mount Bures.
With Mount Bures being predominately a farming community,
I had a serious lack of material to get this launched with
any degree of professionalism.
Ida informed me with no hesitation to make use of her book,
as it seemed a good partnership to keep Mount Bures in the
she provided me with a wealth of material, in order for the
web site to be launched the following year in 2001.
With her book publicised on the web site, it immediately had
a resurgence in its demand and we received numerous requests
to purchase a copy
Only two years later in 2003,
the Mount Bures part of the Bures trio, grew so much that
I decided it was time that the village had its own dedicated
a web site.
This phenomenal two year growth of material and especially
visitors to the site was all down the Ida`s input and enthusiasm.
Ida then continued
to be a very active supporter, answering any enquiries relating
to Mount Bures whether it be genealogy or archaeological.
She would endeavor to find the answers to any enquiries that
confronted her, spending ages trawling through her vast collection
of notes and numerous local phone calls.
Today Ida`s book is very difficult to locate and can occasionally
be found on Ebay. The original selling price was £8.50
but if you can find one today, the asking price could well
be be in the region of £25.
A few years ago, I informed Ida of these prices and she was
absolutely astounded that her book now demanded such a premium.
younger days, she
frequently flew from Ipswich airport as a passenger
in a light aircraft, armed with her camera scouring
the countryside for these circular markings in the fields.
In 2007, she was recognised for this work by the Queen,
awarding her an MBE for her services to history
outside Buckingham Palace
see full report
In 2009, the Dedham Vale
AONB had been granted £1m by the Heritage Lottery
Fund for a project "Managing a Masterpiece"
to help preserve and celebrate the areas importance.
the projects was to excavate the summit of the Mount,
to confirm Ida`s theory that it dated back to the Norman
Although now confined to a wheelchair it did not stop
her enthusiasm to reach the summit and see for herself
She was carried to the top with the aid of three soldiers
from Colchester Barracks, then to receive a rapturous
round of applause on her arrival.
see full report
Lewis of the C4 Time Team talking to Ida.
With Ida no
longer with us, the days of answering these most difficult
questions has sadly come to an end.
Ida was a great friend to me
over the past fourteen years and will be sadly missed,