Anne Turner Memorial Allotments - North Ferriby

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About Anne Turner and the Turner Family

Based largely on information compiled and written by Tim Barnett

Anne Turner, the widow of Charles Turner MP, died at Eastbourne on 10th August 1902. The Anne Turner Memorial Allotments were opened for the National Garden Scheme on August 7th 2022 to mark 120 years since her death and the successful continuous cultivation of the land donated by her nephews and nieces in her memory.

An earlier allotment had been provided by Anne Turner for her tenants in Ferriby on a piece of her land close to the present railway station in 1895. The provision of allotment grounds was largely dependent on the generosity of landowners during this period, as it wasn’t until 1906 that parish councils were required to provide land under local government regulations. The benefits for the landowner were thought to be in the improved conduct of their tenants who would spend their time cultivating their plots rather than in the village pub. However, the rebuilding of ‘The Duke Of Cumberland’ to provide a greatly enlarged public house in the years after the opening of the allotments suggests this wasn’t entirely successful.

The land Anne Turner had originally donated was soon required by the Railway company to build a footbridge, so in 1904 a new site in Ferriby was provided by her Trustees ‘which would be associated in perpetuity with the name of the late Mrs Turner’. Various conditions were attached to the bequest, such as the prohibition of buildings such as greenhouses or sheds, which has resulted in the attractive layout of the present-day allotments.

The revelation that the probate value of Anne Turner’s will amounted to the modern-day equivalent of £65 million puts the generosity of the relatives into perspective, though it is clear that Anne Turner had already donated several million pounds (in today’s value) to various good causes during her lifetime. The list of philanthropic donations is a long one, as early as 1847 the rebuilding of All Saints Church Ferriby was funded at a cost of £3096 (or the equivalent of £300,000) , largely by Charles Turner, to designs by the renowned architect John Loughborough Pearson. The stained glass of the east window above the altar is dedicated to Charles Turner’s parents Ralph and Mary Anne Turner. The names of all the Turner siblings are recorded on the family tomb close to the north door of the church, though the inscription for Anne Turner in 1902 records her as the ‘daughter of Rachel Whitaker’ and omits her father Charles Whitaker. This is likely a mistake on the part of the stonemason, as Charles and Rachel Whitaker were also highly respected local estate owners.

Charles Whitaker owned the nearby Melton Hill estate, a fine Georgian mansion in landscaped grounds, demolished in the 1950s. He was twice Lord Mayor of Hull in the 1820s at the time he bought Melton Hill, though he seems not to have lived there until about 1840 when the portrait of Anne Whitaker, soon to be Anne Turner, was painted. He also owned a large estate near Ripon, Brekamore, so it is possible Anne lived there before her marriage.

Other family members also contributed to numerous philanthropic causes, amongst which is Turner Court or the ‘Model Dwellings’ in Midland Street Hull. Built in 1862 with £5,225 (approximately £500,000 at today’s value) provided by Miss Turner, to designs by H.M.Eyton for the Society for the Improving of the Conditions of the Labouring Classes, the only example of their work outside London. Lord Shaftesbury the most celebrated Victorian philanthropist was the Chairman of the Society and was intended to officially open the ‘Model Dwellings’ in Hull though he was prevented by illness. The ‘Model Dwellings’ still continue to fulfil their original function.

The North Ferriby Village School and Headmasters residence was paid for by Anne Turner in 1877 as a local memorial after the death of her husband Charles Turner in 1875.

In Liverpool, an even greater memorial building was provided in the grounds of Anne Turner’s residence at Dingle Head. In this case, the building, designed by Alfred Waterhouse, better known as the architect of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, was also a memorial to Charles and Anne’s only son Charles Edward who died in 1880. The Turner Memorial Home was to provide accommodation and residential care to the sick, though care was restricted to ‘male incurables belonging to the Church of England and able to pay seven shillings per week’. As a result of these restrictive criteria, there was early criticism in the local press with reports of the ‘half dozen lonely and miserable inmates who have a magnificent building all to themselves’. The exclusive rules were soon relaxed and the Turner Memorial Home still provides a sanctuary 150 years later.

A statue of Charles Turner MP and his son Charles Edward Turner by the sculptor Hamo Thornycroft in the Turner Memorial Home at Dingle Head , Liverpool.Although it is Anne Turner who is now best remembered in Ferriby, the Turner family had long associations with the village. In 1822 Ralph Turner, a Hull Merchant, and his wife Mary Anne, bought Ferriby House from the executors of Sir Henry Etherington who had bequeathed his estate to his great-niece Lady Mary Beauclerk , the daughter of the Duke of St Albans and wife of Viscount Deerhurst the eldest son of the Earl of Coventry. The Countess of Coventry is recorded as the owner of the close which later became the allotment in 1825 on the map made for the Enclosure Commission.

Ralph Turner was originally from Staffordshire, the son of the Rector of Tixall, born in 1753. By the 1800s Ralph Turner, merchant and shipowner, is recorded living in Charlotte Street, Hull , with his wife Mary Anne and the first of their children. The Turners seem to have followed the fashion of successful Hull merchants in acquiring property in the healthier country villages surrounding Hull as Ralph Turner is recorded as the owner of a house in Ladywellgate , Welton which was sold to Robert Raikes in 1820 and demolished to increase the Raikes estate at Welton House. Ralph had only a short time as owner of Ferriby House as he had died by 1823, but his widow and their nine children retained the property and increased the estate throughout the nineteenth century.

Charles Turner born in 1803, the second son of Ralph and Mary Anne, was largely responsible for increasing the family fortunes. As a young man he moved to Liverpool and within a short time after his arrival ‘he had attained a considerable importance amongst the commercial community …’. In time he became chairman of organisations such as the British Shipowners Association, Royal Assurance Company, Pacific Steam Navigation Company and first chairman of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. He served on the Town Council from 1850 and by 1852 had been elected as one of the Conservative MPs for Liverpool. However, he and his fellow MP were unseated due to allegations of bribery by their agent. He was elected a second time in 1861 as MP for South West Lancashire, a seat he retained until his death in 1875

Charles Turner bought the Dingle Head estate in the then picturesque environs of Toxteth as his main residence in Liverpool but Ferriby House remained a family home for his mother and unmarried sisters. The Census return of 1851 record 3 Misses Turners living in Ferriby House, along with 5 servants. By 1902 on the death of Anne Turner the Ferriby estate comprised 885 acres and included not only Ferriby House but also Ferriby Hall, Aston Hall, the Tithe Farm, the Manor Farm, The Uplands, the ‘Duke of Cumberland’, and numerous smallholdings and cottages.