Turner, Mary Vane - author

The Story of Deddington by Mary Vane Turner

In the words of the author (1933) "This Village History was written for a competition held by the Oxfordshire Federation of Women's Institutes. Dr. Marrett, Rector of Exeter College, Oxford, the Judge, awarded First prize to Shipton-under-Wychwood, Second prize to Headington Quarry, Deddington and Churchill he bracketed together with Quarry as 'all extremely good and only a little behind the first in interest and general quality.' "

The book has been republished (series of pdfs) by Deddington & District History Society in December 2008 to mark both the 10th anniversary of the History Society and the 75th anniversary of the original book. We are grateful to D&DHS for giving permission for it to be available to read online.

The Story of Mary Vane Turner

Mary's own story makes interesting reading in itself. The following article is published by kind permission of Jill Adams who did all the research. A pdf version can also be downloaded here.

At the onset of this project virtually nothing was known about the book’s author Mary Vane Turner, though we knew that she entered Deddington life during the 1920s and ’30s from reports in the Banbury Guardian, the Deddington Deanery Magazine and the publication of her book in 1933. I asked a number of old Deddingtonians if they remembered Mary, but of course they were children at that time and had no recollection of where she might have come from. All they could say was, ‘She was a tall lady who wore furs and was always seen with a small dog!’ Well, certainly as we can see in the photograph used on the back cover, she had the small dog: a pug. We knew that her daughter Muriel had married Dr Jones as his second wife and the memorial windows in the church have been researched and studied. The connection to the WI was also known. But we had no idea to whom Mary was married and when exactly she might have arrived in Deddington.


    Florence Mary Vane Turner


Throughout her time in Deddington I found no mention of her husband Vane Turner in any of the records consulted so I had to start from scratch.


It was suggested that Mary may have been related to Dr Thomas Turner who was practising in the village until his death in 1933 but I researched his family and although she would have known Dr Turner, she was not related to him.I found Vane Turner a difficult name to research on the computer, but eventually after finding the right combination that the search engines liked, ie dropping the Vane, I found a marriage. Initially this marriage was found on the FreeBMD web site but in order to glean more detail with out sending for the certificate, I found this announcement:  The Times for Friday 28th March 1890:

 ‘On 27th March 1890 at Christchurch  Ealing by the Rev W Petty MA, Vicar of St Andrews Ealing, Hugh Vane Turner MA, third surviving son of the late Albert Turner of Sevenoaks to Florence Mary Hodges, only daughter of H W Hodges of Ealing’.

More recently I have been able to look at the marriage entry in the register at Christchurch in Ealing. Florence’s father Henry Wickens Hodges is described as a Gentleman. Her mother Ellen was also a witness along with Hugh’s brother Sidney H Turner.

When first seeing this marriage, it was the name Hodges that gave me the clue to a connection with Deddington. I guess many people will know that yet another doctor: George Montague Hodges was practising in Deddington and became a partner of Dr George Horatio Jones. It was an obvious thought that Florence Mary was a relation to Dr Hodges in much the same way previously thought to Dr Turner. Was Florence Mary the Mary Vane Turner we were searching for?

Help from the Census Returns

The census is taken every 10 years and from 1841 proved very useful in tracking these families down. It is important to note that movements, births and deaths between censuses continually occurred, so sometimes vital information can be missed which in itself can be misleading. For example: Florence Mary’s age was always recorded in the census returns taken in April which was before her birthday in August .This meant that the age given was correct but gave a birth year of 1867.The same happened occurred when she died in June of 1947 at the age of 80 .Her birth year was actually 1866.

Prior to 1911, the ‘household schedules’ were destroyed once the details had been transferred into the enumerators’ summary books. But for the 1911 census both sets of records have been preserved, which means you can see the census documents filled out in the head of household’s own hand (complete with mistakes and additional comments), in addition to the edited version in the enumerators’ summary. By far the biggest cause of people missing from the 1911 census was civil disobedience, which as we shall see may be relevant. 

Looking at the census I found Florence Mary living with her parents on the 1871 and 1881 returns. So what relation was she to Dr Hodges? I at looked the Hodges family and in particular Dr Hodges’ father George William (b 1844, London) who I was hoping would turn out to be a brother to Florence’s father Henry W Hodges (b 1840). They shared the same parents and were born in the same place: this is the moment when the computer deserved praise. They did turn out to be brothers; one with a daughter Florence Mary (b 1866, Norwood) and the other a son Dr George Montague (b 1881, London).  In other words the two were first cousins. This relationship explains how Florence Mary might have first come to the village and I felt at this stage Florence Mary and Mary Vane Turner was one and the same person, and the author of The Story of Deddington.

In order to find more about the Deddington Hodges family using the parish registers, I drew up a pedigree. It showed Dr George Hodges’ son, Henry Woolmington Mackenzie (b 1920) and baptised in Deddington. I decided to search for him on the internet, hoping he might still be alive. However although he died in 1997, his widow Jane is still living at the family home in Sussex. I telephoned her and this was a real turning point as she was able to confirm some of the details on Florence Mary. She also possessed an original copy of The Story of Deddington. More importantly though, she was willing to give me the name of Florence Mary’s great grand-daughter Jo Warren who lives on the Island of Gozo!

Initially when I spoke to Jo on the telephone, she told me she had a photo of her great grandmother which she would be willing to let us reproduce for the reprint. At that time Jo told me that she knew very little about Florence Mary. We have spoken a few more times since and I have learned more and used that information as a springboard for further study. Without the help of Jane and Jo, the research would have been a lot harder so we are very grateful to them. Jo kindly sent the photograph of Florence Mary with her dog.

So how did Florence Mary meet Hugh Vane Turner? I discovered that the Hodges and Turner families were both living in Sevenoaks, Kent, in the 1881 census. In fact Albert and Fanny Turner were recorded there as early as 1871. Both families were living in the same road: London Road, Tubs Hill. Henry and Ellen Hodges lived at number 2 Tubs Hill and Albert and Fanny Turner at Mill House, Tubs Hill, close by. One imagines that these families knew each other socially and quite possibly through business. Albert Turner was a solicitor in the City commuting from the nearby Sevenoaks railway station and Henry Wickens Hodges was a fire insurance manager who may well have been commuting to London too.

In 1881 Florence Mary was 14 and her brother Leonard 12. I had also found another brother John Wall born in 1870 but he only appears on the 1871 census. I also recall being told by Jo Warren (Florence Mary’s great granddaughter on Gozo) that there were two other girls in the family, but again they have not shown up in the census returns. I do not know what happened to these three siblings, but fear they had died.

Living with the family in 1881 was Frances Maddison, a governess, and two domestic servants. To date I have not researched any other education that Florence Mary might have received, apart from finding an entry in The Times for 14th February 1889 ‘The Royal Female School of Art: The National Gilchrist Scholarship was awarded to Florence Mary Hodges’. She would have been 21 or 22 years old. This was a technical school ’established to enable the middle classes to be so thoroughly trained as to win in connection with art creditable to themselves and of benefit to the community’.

However on 1st June 1889 a tremendous sadness struck the Hodges family; Florence Mary’s brother Leonard Harry Edmeston died aged 20 years. He is buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Perivale. This must have been a great loss to Florence’s family, especially if the three missing siblings had also died and coming just months before Florence’s marriage to Hugh. 

Hugh Vane Turner

Hugh Vane Turner was not at home on the night of the 1881 census. He was instead a visitor along with his elder brother Howard Blake Turner and a lodger, Dr George Turner who was a cousin; all staying with Mr Blunden a grocer in Hoddesdon Herts. Hugh was aged 20 and gave his occupation as ‘Commissioner of Coll (Oxford) (Coll Keeper) (Messenger)’. From my research I think Hugh would have been a student at this time and even though we can find no clear explanation of these terms; we can conclude that he may have had some kind of work from his Oxford College. What is known about Hugh is the fact that he did matriculate in 1878 as a member of the Non-Collegiate-Delegacy. This enabled young men to join the University without becoming members of a college, which was normally a pre-requisite. Access was provided for the less well off whose families perhaps could not afford college fees, or for those men who were married and others for whom colleges were inappropriate. This is strange in Hugh’s case as his father Albert was probably well able to afford to send Hugh to a college.

However Hugh did graduate in 1881 as a member of Exeter College and records from the archive at Lincoln’s Inn state that he was admitted there on 1st July 1881. Although he successfully passed a public examination there in 1887 which was announced in The Times, he was never called to the Bar. His graduation was announced in The Times on 11th April 1881 'Oxford April 9th, BA Hugh Vane Turner, Exeter’. The 1881 census was taken on 3rd April; one wonders if Hugh had been funding himself by working as a ‘Commissioner’.

The Times announced on 25th October 1889 ‘OXFORD, Oct 24th .The following degrees were conferred in a congregation held this morning:-  MA Hugh V  Turner , Exeter……’

After his marriage to Florence Mary in 1890, Hugh at some point became a schoolmaster which is recorded on the 1891 census. They were living with Florence’s parents in Ealing, at 9 Montpelier Road in the parish of Christchurch where they were married. The house is a large and comfortable Victorian one. The Vicar, Rev W Petty, who had married them, was at that time a close neighbour.

Hugh and Florence Mary had two children: Leonard James Vane (b 1891, Islington) and Muriel Vane  (b 1894, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent). Muriel eventually settled in Deddington.

By 1901 Hugh and Florence Mary had moved to 38 Sunnyside Road, Ealing, and their daughter Muriel Vane was 6 years old. Hugh was working as a Secretary to a land company. They had one domestic servant. Florence’s mother Ellen was living next door at 36 Sunnyside Road; her husband Henry Wickens had died in 1893. On the evening of the 1901 census her grand-son Leonard James Vane Turner was aged 9 and staying that night with her. The family was close. During those few years Hugh and Florence continued living in Sunnyside Rd Ealing. I have found them on the 1911 census, and Kelly’s street directories show they were there up until 1918. Florence’s father Henry Wickens had died in 1893, but his wife Ellen still lived next door to her daughter and son-in-law until her death in 1918. I have discovered more about her mother Ellen Mary’s family. Her grandfather, father and brother were architects in London all named James Edmeston .Her grandfather, son of a clergyman had set up his practice in 1816 and in 1827, took on the soon to be famous architect and also the son of a clergyman ;George Gilbert Scott as an apprentice! However James was also interested in the welfare of children during that time and often visited the London Orphan Asylum and was a strong supporter of its work. He also wrote many, many hymns notably ‘Lead us heavenly father lead us’. It was said he wrote a hymn every Sunday; it was reputed to be up to two thousand in his life time! Did Mary inherit some writing skill from him?

He served as the church warden at St Barnabas in Homerton and died in 1867.

Interestingly GG Scot designed in 1852 Christchurch in Ealing where Mary married Hugh in 1890.James had complained when Scott was his pupil, that he was wasting his time sketching medieval bui

The 1911 census reveals that Florence Mary was working. She is described as a journalist and 44 years old. This, I would suggest, was fairly unusual because it might not have been the kind of job a woman, especially a married woman, did at that time. To me this was a staggering piece of information because of the questions it posed. When and where did she acquire the skills to become a journalist? To date I can only surmise that she obtained the training, the shorthand and typing, at night school or perhaps before she was married when she won her scholarship at the technical college. The census filled in by Hugh revealed that they were both ‘workers’. I was intrigued as to whom Florence Mary was writing for! Hugh’s work was described as ‘Investigator into the Rural Condition’. Hugh, in the 1911 census, was aged 50. I imagine and hope he supported his wife in her work.
Votes for women

I then set out to find where she might have reported and the newspapers she might have worked for. It occurred to me that her writing might have more significance because of being a woman especially at that time. I telephoned Jo Warren and asked if she had known that her great grandmother had been a journalist because to me this was exciting news! Jo responded by saying 'I think she was’. Pressing Jo further I asked the inevitable: ‘Do you think she was Suffragette?’ Jo replied, 'Yes, I think she might have been’.

As part of the protest against the government’s continued refusal to grant women the vote, the suffragettes organised a mass boycott of the census but as we can see Florence Mary did not join them. Thousands of women may be missing from the 1911 census and will be untraceable because they deliberately stayed away from the family home all night .Many heads of households also refused to list female members on the form..

It seemed then in that atmosphere Florence Mary had had a very full life and interesting career before she ever set foot in Deddington.

Traditional leg-work

Ealing seemed like the place to begin the search for evidence of this. In the Ealing Central Library, the local newspapers of the early 1900s are available on microfilm. I began by looking at the Middlesex County Times for 1911. Would there be mention of her as a writer, reporter or suffragette?

Amazingly it was not long before her name appeared! In the week of January 21st there was a headline on page 2 ‘Florence Nightingale—Suffragist’. This report was the 'first Suffragist “at home” of the New Year. The speaker made the point towards the end of her lecture that Florence Nightingale ‘who had earned the universal respect and gratitude of the nation, was a strong suffragist and a life member of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage’. I was pleased to see Florence Mary’s Involvement with the local Women’s Suffrage Movement. ‘Mrs Vane Turner then gave expression to the appreciation felt by all of a lecture which had brought home and made real to the audience the personality of “the lady with the lamp’’ and not her ministry among the soldiers alone, but also her childhood and girlhood spent in tending sick dollies and hurt animals and her long and severe technical training in nursing’. There were a series of similar articles about the meetings , 'at homes’, held in private houses and gardens with marches, pageants, open air gatherings and letters to the editors of the local papers on women’s suffrage. Mrs Vane Turner was President of the Ealing and Acton Women’s Suffrage Society (law abiding and non-party) officially listed in the   Ealing and Hanwell Year Book for 1911. These were women who did not believe in violent means to achieve the vote. Florence Mary was a Suffragist not a Suffragette. She was not a likely candidate for evading the census or for civil disobedience.

There are a number of articles which were signed with a pen name which could well be written by her; however there was a lecture given by her towards the end of April 1911 reported in the Middlesex County Times, on Journalism. In it Mrs Vane Turner states ‘Taking the phrases, ’’Journalism for Women and Women for Journalism”, Mrs Turner emphasised the fact that women are now a necessary part of the journalistic world and no paper of high standing can manage without employing at least one women on its staff.’ She passes on to outline the every day life of a reporter on a London daily, ‘the lecturer sounded the warning of several snares which beset the unseasoned interviewer.’ She gives examples of some pitfalls but I wonder is she talking from her own experience from working on a daily newspaper? At the close of her lecture she says: ‘Journalism is a good if a strenuous career; good because of the many opportunities it affords of seeing life and events, men and manners and whose, after a life spent in active journalism, retires to the quieter and less stressful existence of book writer, carries with him interesting stories of experience and many happy memories’. The lecture went down well apparently from the vote of thanks: ’to judge from the animated faces of the audience, no formal matter, but a very real expression of feeling.’ I wonder if she was talking about herself and thoughts of retiring? She would have been about 44 at that time. Settling in Deddington and writing its history via a competition supported by the newly formed Women’s Institute, was still a number of years away.

A popular place to hold the Suffrage meetings was Buols Café which was originally known as ‘The Grandvoinet-Buol Theophile Restaurant, 1, Sandringham Parade, Uxbridge Rd and near to Christchurch where Mary and Hugh were married. The café is long gone as that part of Ealing was bombed in WWII, including parts of the church.

It was reported in the Acton Gazette on 18th October 1912 that the ‘Local non-militant suffragists’ would begin their autumn campaign of work by the annual general meeting of their society (the Ealing, Acton and Bedford Park Branch of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage) which will take place in Buol’s  Café.

The report went on to state that ‘the chair will be taken by Mrs Vane Turner, president of the branch … Suffragists are asked to make strong muster, not only to ensure the meeting being as successful as gatherings held at this café have been in the past but also for the sake of standing shoulder to shoulder in the propaganda work to be carried on during the forthcoming months’.The AGM was held on 21st October in Buol’s Café and after the business where Mrs Vane Turner was re-elected as President and the speeches, two resolutions were proposed calling on the local MP, Mr Nield  a) to vote for Mr Snowden’s amendment to the Home Rule Bill, to secure the inclusion of women and b) this meeting calls upon the House of Commons to include women in the forthcoming Franchise and Registration Bill and urgently requests Mr Nield once more to support the cause of women Suffrage by voting for the amendments …’ These resolutions were put to the meeting by Mrs Vane Turner and carried by ‘unanimous consent’.

I am still working to find Florence Mary working on newspapers or journals such as the English Women’s Review, but she was very active with the Suffrage movement judging from a number of reports in the Local press. She was certainly still President of the local branch in December 1913. Women’s Suffrage was heavily supported in the Ealing area and much money was raised locally. Her work as a journalist and her membership of a very active movement, all seems to show a powerful combination of heartfelt belief and practical application.

What of her son Leonard?

Hugh, in the 1911 census, was aged 50. I imagine and hope he supported his wife in her work.

The census describes their son Leonard as a solicitor’s articled clerk aged 19. With a promising career ahead, he was completely unaware of the horror looming. Leonard Vane joined The London Regiment (London Scottish) the 1st/14th Battalion and went off like so many young men to serve his country in the First World War. He died on the 21st December 1914 in Givenchy near La Basse, France. He was buried at Cuinchy aged 23. His memorial is at Le Touret and his parents included a memorial on the west side of the family grave in St Mary’s, Perivale inscribed: ‘Lift up your hearts. Leonard Vane Turner, A Coy. 1st Batt. London Scottish 14th County of London Regt. Only son of Hugh Vane & Florence Mary Turner & Grandson of H W & E M Hodges, gave his life for his country and for freedom … aged 23 years & 7 months’. His medal card states Leonard joined up as a Private on 15th September 1914 .

In her book, Mary mentions the Great War with some feeling due, no doubt, to her personal loss; ’but material anxieties must never dim for us what were its glories—the spirit of honour and chivalry that answered the call of 1914, the dogged duty that carried on’. Mary also writes about the men called up from Deddington; The Oxfordshire Hussars; the Yeomanry and the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire 1/4 Battalion of Light Infantry. The first detachment of the Oxfordshire Yeomanry landed in France on 18th September 1914, ’three days only after the London Scottish who were actually the first territorial regiment to disembark’. Mary is including her personal and special knowledge of her son’s regiment known to those at the time of her writing perhaps, but not to us now without research. Leonard Vane Turner is also commemorated in the North Chapel of Christchurch (now Christ the Saviour), Ealing.

Florence Mary was further bereaved by the death of her mother Ellen Mary Hodges in 1918. Her parents are buried at St Mary’s Church Perivale.

Four Doctors and a lady

However there was a twist in the Hodges story in Deddington. Dr Hodges mother Alice Clode Hodges (née Williams) had a sister Emily May Williams. She had come to Deddington as the wife of Dr George McNair. They had married in 1890 in Lambeth. Dr McNair had come to Deddington as a medical assistant to Dr Edward W Turner (father to Dr Thomas W Turner) and was living with the family at The Poplars in 1881.

By 1891 Dr McNair and his new wife Emily were living in New Street, at Ilbury House. The 1891 census also shows Emily’s mother visiting along with her grand-children, George Montague Hodges (the future Doctor) aged 10 and his sister Alice aged 7. The family link to Florence Mary is beginning to emerge.

Things take a further turn for the worse when Dr McNair died two years later in 1893. Poor Emily! They had only been married for three years and there were no children. I am only guessing that Florence might have known Dr McNair and his wife through her cousins, the Hodges.

Emily McNair married Dr George Horatio Jones in Lambeth in 1897. Dr Jones also bought the practice in Deddington. Together they entered into the busy life of Deddington’s society. Dr and Mrs Jones were always part of activities in the school, the church and other village events. Emily Jones died in 1923.

On 8th October 1924 Dr Jones married Muriel Vane Turner, only daughter of Hugh and Florence Mary. The marriage took place at St Peters, Eaton Square, London.

That, then, was the family background of Florence Mary Vane Turner and her links to Deddington. When Mrs Vane Turner was mentioned in Deddington and locally in the newspaper and deanery magazines, her first name is not generally used and from now on I will call her Mary. On some occasions her name is hyphenated but Vane was Hugh’s second name. However the combination 'Vane Turner’ did work well and that is how Mary was known in Deddington. Since its now known that Mary had been a journalist and suffragist, perhaps she was always called Mrs Vane Turner or Mary Vane Turner.

However Jane Hodges told me she was affectionately known within the family as’ Flossie’ and when I decided to widen the research on the Turner family ,someone else knew her as Flossie! I imagined there ought to be other Turner descendants in this country that could be found .Hugh Vane had five brothers and two sisters. Using the computer, I searched for the marriage of his brother Sidney Hyde Turner who had been a witness at his marriage to Mary. Sidney married Frances Ellen Rudd in 1893.They had one daughter Audrey. In 1928 Audrey married Edward R. Luxmoore-Peake.On a roll now, I felt confident of finding issue! Indeed, a son was found and living in Wiltshire. In a few minutes a telephone number was on the screen, I had the phone and my notebook at the ready. It was very exciting when I telephoned Dr Hugh C.Luxmoore-Peake because he immediately knew about this family and quickly mentioned Ilbury House at Deddington and Dr Jones! It turned out that Hugh has a collection of Turner family photographs and he very kindly sent me pictures of ‘Flossie’, her husband Hugh and their son Leonard amongst others .Leonard appears in his uniform so this must have been taken just before his departure to France 1914; his fate so poignantly decided .It is wonderful so see the author and her husband when they were young; often imagining what they might have looked like. Now grateful thanks are due to Hugh for sharing the pictures and allowing them to be reproduced here.


    Mary Vane Turner             Hugh Vane Tuner            Leonard James Tuner

                                                                                              1891 - 1914

Mary, Hugh and Muriel probably visited Deddington fairly frequently perhaps during the First World War. They may have stayed at The Blocks (now Featherton House) with the Hodges family. Her cousin, Dr Hodges, was away in France from 1914-1916—as was Dr Jones from 1916-1918—on active service, both serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Dr Thomas Turner held the rank of sergeant in the Volunteers, remaining in the village throughout the war. After the marriage of Muriel to Dr Jones in 1924 Mary stayed with them and probably lived with them in Ilbury House until she bought ‘Beeches‘ in  Earls Lane. Hugh was ill sometime in the late 1920s and was in hospital until his death in 1933. Sadly there are no memories of Hugh in Deddington, but at that time Mary and her daughter Muriel were rapidly becoming part of Deddington’s com. It must have been a great joy for Mary when her grand-children were born in Deddington. Lesley  Muriel in 1926 and George Martin in 1928. Hugh Luxmoore-Peake has also sent a photograph of his father, himself and (George) Martin Jones taken in the summer of 1838 at Prep school. He says ’my one and only photo of Martin. A snap which must have been taken by my mother (using the old family Brownie) Martin on the right; the occasion was half-term .Martin and I were at Stubbington House, near Fareham, Hants. I remember we were in the sick room together during a measles epidemic in mmunity y first or second year at the school. He went on to Stowe, and I to Cheltenham. The school no longer exists and was evacuated, first to Lewes in Sussex and then to Polapit Tamar, a fine country house with masses of grounds on the Devon-Cornwall border, during the war’.


Hugh Luxmoore-Peake and Martin Jones with Hugh’s father

Please note that Martin’s mother Muriel Jones had died in 1936, two years before this photo was taken.


In 1925 there was a poignant entry in the Deddington Deanery Magazine ‘Gift to the Church—A beautiful copy of Guido Reni’s 'Ecce Homo’ (1575-1642) has been presented to the church by Mrs Vane Turner in memory of all who fell in the Great War, and in particular of her son, Leonard Vane Turner, who fell on December 21st 1914’. The picture was copied by L H E Hodges who had died in 1889 aged 20. The picture of course was copied by Mary’s brother Leonard Harry Edmeston Hodges.

Mary first appears on the electoral roll of Deddington in the autumn of 1926 as living in Ilbury House. She mentions her cottage which is presumably Beeches in her book which means she had this property in 1932. ‘I am privileged to live in a Deddington cottage built in the same stone as the rocky outcrop—a ferruginous marlstone quarried nearby, which shines richly gold in the sunshine’. However I think she stayed in Ilbury House (electoral rolls) with her daughter at various times up to 1936 until Muriel’s death. After this Mary lived at Beeches until 1943 when she became ill. She went to live in the Nursing home ‘Madora’ in the Oxford Road, Banbury: she was looked after by Nurse Gillette until her death in 1947.

Apart from her village history what other contribution did Mary and her family make to Deddington? The societies, fundraising efforts and church events that she was attached to, had their activities announced in the Deddington Deanery Magazine. Very often these were not included in the local newspapers. I couldn’t find any mention of the publication of her book apart from the few words in the deanery magazine from the vicar: ‘The Story of Deddington—Congratulations to Mrs Vane Turner upon the publication of her story of our Parish. It is excellently produced and most interesting. As only a limited number have been printed it would be as well for those wanting copies to get them as soon as possible. Only those who have ever tried their hands at such work know how much laborious research is required to collect the information’.

Praise indeed! Mary was the first person to compile and write a full village history of Deddington. The people she drew some of her information from had written notes and pamphlets but not a book, so her research was a big achievement in the early thirties. Perhaps her earlier work in journalism helped the process of research and aided her interviewing techniques. The people to whom Mary spoke gave a real insight into Deddington’s past and much of this information gleaned from people whose memories would have been lost without her efforts. As we know, Mary and her daughter were members of the Deddington Women’s Institute and Muriel had been its first President. The Women’s Institute affiliated to the Oxfordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes was founded in Deddington in the autumn of 1925. Nationally the Federation was keen to promote local history projects and in response to this lead, a competition was held for village histories and village books. Having discovered Mary’s background it comes as no surprise that she entered this competition with her ‘Story of Deddington’ in 1933. The entry from Shipton under Wychwood came first with Headington Quarry, Deddington and Churchill’ all extremely good and only a little behind the first in interest and general quality of exposition and thoroughness’. The judge Dr Robert Marett noted in a postscript that he would have to award a second prize and that it would go to Headington Quarry.

In the last few words of her book, Mary relates that the WI founded in Deddington in 1925 with a membership of over 70 ‘still carries on with vigour …..its object (‘for Home and Country) is kept well uppermost’ She also recalls someone remarking when it was  started ,that it was the first social meeting place for all women ever known in Deddington. This she states in 1932 ‘still holds good, and has increased our understanding of one another’

Mary was President in 1933 and 1934. There were reports in the Banbury Guardian with most of the monthly meetings recorded with Mrs Vane Turner presiding either in the British Legion or Ilbury House. Several garden parties were held; one in Dr Hodges gardens at The Blocks and the other at the Hermitage ‘where Mrs Vane Turner, the President took a splendid lead in all the activities’. Her grand-children won prizes in the fancy dress and children’s decorated pram competitions. It seemed like a very happy day. This was also the year Mary lost her husband Hugh.

It was recorded too that Mrs Vane Turner laid a wreath at the Remembrance Service in November. Deddington and many people in the district mourned the death of Dr Thomas Turner early in 1933.

In November 1934 the deanery magazine included a letter by Mary advertising the forthcoming Missionary Exhibition. This was to be held in Banbury’s Church House (now a restaurant near St Mary’s). Mary was the ‘Editorial secretary’ to the Exhibition and in this piece she is inviting all the local church-goers to attend and offer their talents, time, services, practical help or donations to further its work abroad. ‘It should be happy work, which may, like other occasions of the kind, lead to actual involvement of recruits for the mission field’. She signed herself ‘F M Vane Turner’. There are numerous occasions when Mary involved herself with more local good causes, whether it was improvements to the church, the waifs and strays (Children’s Society), entertaining the school children to tea parties or acting as collector and treasurer to various groups in the village. She gave gifts to the church. In early 1936 she gave as a ‘thank offering’ a new white altar frontal to add to the new improvements at that time. After the death of Muriel, it was recorded in the Deanery magazine, ’Mrs Vane Turner has most kindly given all the school children copies of the New Testament in memory of her daughter’.

Dr Jones her son-in-law and father to Lesley and Martin, died in 1939.

 I understand after the death of their mother, Lesley went away to Westonbirt School and George Martin went on from his prep school to Stowe. Lesley married Leonard Warren in 1948 and they farmed at Evenley, Northants. Whilst on a holiday in Malta in the early 1960s, they decided that they would sell up the farm and go to live on Gozo. Their sons Christopher and Timothy did not wish to farm and were probably still at school when Leonard and Lesley and their daughter Jo settled on the Island. Christopher died in about 1986 and Timothy lives in Australia. Lesley’s brother George Martin also farmed at Evenley until he went to live in Portugal in 1954, returning to London where he died in 1963. Jo said that her parents died in 1984 and 1985. They are buried in the cemetery on the island.

The Deddington Deanery Magazine offered the following in 1947: ‘Burials—July 3rd Mary Vane Turner, (Committal at Oxford). ’By the passing of Mrs Vane Turner, Deddington has lost one of the links with the past. Her history of the parish, now unfortunately out of print, enshrined not only the details of the past but also her own loving interest in the town, its church and social activities’. The Revd  Maurice Frost.

Mary’s ashes were scattered on the lawn at Headington Crematorium. She was 80 years old and truly was a remarkable lady. Jo Warren described her as a gentle but strong minded person. She had lived through very challenging times and despite all her personal loss, she devoted her life to the benefit of others. As she states in her foreword, ’The old bygone folk lit the torch of progress, which we hold for a little time then pass on’. Her legacy, for the rights of women was clear and there is the real possibility of uncovering more details in the future; but I conclude this now with much admiration and gratitude to Mary for her Story of Deddington.


©Jill Adams 2010


Websites for Family History:  
Find my Past (Census Returns 1841-1911)
Free BMD  (Births, Marriages & Deaths)
Family Search (Mormons IGI)
The Times online archive
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Jones Memorial Window (see www. deddington.org.uk/community/church/jonesmemorialwindows).
Parish Registers for Christchurch, Ealing now Christ the Saviour, Ealing
Monumental Inscriptions from St Mary’s, Perivale
Kelly’s Directories
Newspaper archives for the Ealing area
Ealing and Hanwell Year Book, 1911, p 61 (all in Ealing Central Library).
Deddington Deanery Magazine, 1910-1947 (Adderbury History Society archive)
Banbury Guardian (microfilm archive in Banbury Library)
Parish Registers for Deddington (in Oxfordshire Archives)
Electoral Rolls for Deddington (in Centre for Oxford Studies and Oxfordshire Archives Oxford)
Oxford Crematorium, Headington.



Jo Warren
Jane Hodges
Dr Jonathan Oates
Rev Andrew Davis of Christ the Saviour, Ealing
Dr Hugh C. Luxmoore – Peake
Friends of St Mary’s, Perivale