This article is based on material sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Mar 2018.
Alfred Geoffrey Turner owned Hungerford Park 1928 until his death in 1956.
There are memorials to both Alfred Geoffrey Turner and his wife Katherine Mary in St Saviour's churchyard.
Alfred Geoffrey Turner (AGT) was born on 20 May, 1886 in West Derby which, despite its name, is a suburb of Liverpool. His father, Alfred Morrison Turner (AMT), was also a “scouser” - born in Liverpool in 1853.
A “scouser” today means someone who has an accent found in the Metropolitan County of Merseyside and closely associated with the city of Liverpool, but in AMT’s day, it was a sailor’s stew called lobscouse made from meat, vegetables and hardtack. Hardtack was a hard, dry bread or biscuit, used especially as part of a sailor’s ration. Even today, scouse is still a characteristic dish served in many Liverpool homes!
In the census of 1881, AMT was unmarried but is already the head of his household in Daysbrook Lane, Liverpool where he lived with his sister Edith and brother Edward, a sugar refiner, and six servants. AMT himself was a merchant for the East India Company.
On 1 February that year, AMT married Amy Susan Osgood at Walton-on-the-Hill, on the outskirts of Liverpool. His wife was born in California. In the next census of 1891, AMT, now married to Amy Susan, has four children, two boys and two girls:
• Horace B, b.1884
• Edith W, b.1885
• Alfred G, b.1886
• Amy R, b.1890
This time he has a mere two servants to his name!
In a much later census in 1911, AMT is described as a sugar refiner and ship owner. His company, Turner Morrison & Co, based in Liverpool with a major subsidiary in Calcutta, had been established by his father. The firm of Turner Morrison & Co received the support of Ismay Imrie and Co and as a result of this collaboration, in 1878, Turner formed the Asiatic Steam Navigation Company which acquired the Indian Government Mail contract including the transport of convicts to the Port Blair Penal Colony!
Port Blair is the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India situated in the Bay of Bengal. A union territory is a type of administrative division in the Republic of India. Unlike states, which have their own governments, union territories are ruled directly by the Union Government (central government),
AGT is not with his family in Liverpool on the 1901 census but may be found as a boarder at Eton College. During his time at Eton he enjoyed playing fives and indeed won the annual fives competition. In his final year he was a keeper of the fives (i.e. the school captain for fives).
Eton Fives, is a handball game played as doubles in a three-sided court. The object is to force the other team to fail to hit the ball 'up' off the front wall, using any variety of wall or ledge combinations as long as the ball is played 'up' before it bounces twice. Eton Fives is an uncommon sport, with only a few courts, most of them as part of the facilities of the public schools in the United Kingdom. When I was a pupil at St. Bart’s, Newbury in the 1960s, it had such a court and was popular amongst 6th formers.
After leaving Eton, AGT became a student at Trinity College, Cambridge.
Ten years later, in 1911 he is found back with his family and his father has now bought Broughton Hall in Yew Tree Lane, West Derby. This house could be described as a Gothic mansion. It was built by Gustavus C. Schaube, originally from Hamburg, Germany who became a very wealthy Liverpool shipping merchant. This grandiose house now has six servants consisting of:
• 1 cook
• 1 kitchen maid
• 2 housemaids
• 2 nurses
At this time both AGT and his brother Horace Bickerton Turner were both working as shipping clerks, presumably for their father’s shipping company.
AMT died on 1st December 1918 and probate was granted to his two sons to the tune of £650,615 and 12 shillings. To get an idea of his wealth, AMT’s fortune would have been worth a staggering £35,818,314.67 in 2018!
In 1911 AGT married Katherine Mary Brocklebank and they had four children:
• John G, b.1912 in Chelsea
• Nigel F, b.1914 in Paddington
• Rose L, b.1919 in Ormskirk
• Eleanor, b.1924 in Hungerford
Alfred Turner buys Hungerford Park estate:
Following their father’s death, AGT and his brother Horace became very wealthy gentlemen and ten years later AGT bought the Hungerford Park estate from Colonel Walmesley on 19 Jun 1928, just prior to it going to auction. The property consisted of 2000 acres and a country house. The house was a two-storeyed stuccoed building with moulded cornice, a Doric porch and two projecting bays fronting on to a south-facing garden.
Around the same time his brother Horace Bickerton bought Malverleys, a mansion house at East End.
In 1934, AGT made a number of alterations, including the addition of a grand ballroom. The family, which included four daughters, was famous for giving frequent lavish parties for as many as 65 invited guests. They usually had a specific theme, and ended with spectacular firework displays which lit up the whole neighbourhood. The most famous was perhaps the "Golden Ball" when the walls were draped in gold fabric, the dining table decorated in gold, and the guests sat on golden chairs. It is said that for one particular party, a special train was chartered from Paddington to bring all the drinks!
Speaking of drinks, there is mention in the pages of the Hungerford Virtual Museum by Canon Richard Trapwell who remembers drinking a brew called Hungerford Park Ale Cup over 50 years ago. A recipe for it is given below.
It was made by slicing three or so apples,
Adding the peel and juice of a lemon,
A pinch of nutmeg,
Three bottles of Ginger Beer, (not ginger ale)
Half a bottle of Sherry
and two pints of good draught ale. (bitter)
Sweeten to taste, and chill.
This drink was brewed especially for shooting parties. The original recipe for this brew is found in the book “Cups and their Customs” (1869), written by George E.R. Porter, a cup being a recipe for the brewing of compound drinks, if you like, the modern-day equivalent of cocktails. The next mention of this brew occurred in John Bickerton’s book “Curiosities of Ale and Beer: An Entertaining History” (1889). In The Field magazine, many years later a certain Colonel B observed that 'the addition of half a bottle of champagne makes it awfully good'.
In 1932, AGT had a brand new Rolls-Royce 20/25 Park Ward Saloon delivered to Hungerford Park Estate. This vehicle had a chassis number of GMU36 and was red in colour with a green leather interior.
On 17 Mar 1949, thieves broke into the home of the Turners in Hungerford Park and stole jewellery worth around £20,000. Newspaper reports suggested that it was a professional burglary and that the thieves had been watching the place for a number of days prior to the theft. It is believed that the theft occurred at night between 7 and 10 o’clock in the evening and the thieves climbed a ladder to enter the Turner’s bedroom where they helped themselves to jewellery consisting of a necklace and several rings. AGT was away at the time on company business but his wife and daughter Rosie were at home eating dinner.
AGT’s business interests included:
• Asiatic Steam Navigation Company
• Anglo Brothers England Ltd
• Delta Insurance Co. Ltd
• Geoffrey Turner and Co.
Despite the jewel theft in 1949, in the same year AGT generously donated a pair of heavy duty wrought iron gates to Hungerford, which were installed at the entrance to the War Memorial in Bulpit Lane. These gates, supported by two brick piers, are still in existence today.
AGT’s wife died in 1955 and after some years of illness, AGT died a year later in Savernake Hospital, aged 70.
In the local and national press there was much surprise at the modest amount of his estate, allegedly just over £6000. An examination of his will, however, revealed that this was not the case. He left £152,333 to his son Nigel Frederick, in assets which had been resealed in Singapore. This means that if a person dies with assets held outside of the UK, and that country is recognised under the United Kingdom the Colonial Probate Act, then the UK Grant of probate can be resealed in that country.
After AGT’s death, the estate was sold to Lord Howard de Walden from Avington Manor. Sadly, the main house was left unoccupied for a number of years and fell into such a state of disrepair that the ballroom was used as a cattle shelter. Despite being a Grade III listed building (a grade that no longer exists), the house and almost all associated buildings were demolished in 1960. Only the imposing gates and lodges remain today and remind us of the estate’s former glory. Of course, in this day and age such an architectural travesty would never have taken place; however, all is not lost as planning permission was granted in 2010 for a new mansion to be built on the former site. This has yet to come to fruition.
Both of AGT’s sons were educated, like himself, at Eton. In 1961 AGT’s elder brother, Horace Bickerton Turner died at the Radcliffe Infirmary near Oxford. In his will he left £1,305,953. In 1962, his heir, Nigel Frederick Turner, died at the Victoria Hospital in Swindon aged 47, leaving over £ 217,000. At the time of his death, he had been living at Avington Manor, maybe in one of the farmhouses associated with the manor.
Reviewing the sources on AGT, he is sometimes incorrectly called Alfred George Turner and in some, is just called Geoffrey Turner. In life, he was probably called Geoffrey to distinguish him from his father Alfred.