Emily Turner’s Window
(Published in the Kenilworth Weekly News, 13th August 2010)
Most people know of George Marshall Turner’s donation to the town of our splendid clock tower, built in 1906 as a memorial to his wife. Less well known is the window at St Nicholas Church he installed as a memorial to his daughter, Emily. The dedication of the window took place almost exactly 100 years ago, on September 4th 1910.
Emily, born in 1871, was the youngest of George and Ann Turner’s four daughters. The family moved to Montpellier House on Abbey Hill when she was just five years old. Sister Annie married when Emily was 16, her mother died when she was 20, sister Selina married when Emily was 26; not surprisingly, with fewer of their family around them, father and daughter became very close.
Emily, had a genial, lovable, nature, and easily made friends. She became the Superintendent of first the infant, then girls section, of the Sunday School at St Nicholas church, securing the latter position in about 1902. She was also a regular in the hunting field, accompanying her father on local hunts.
In early 1909, she became ill and “in delicate health” had to give up her church work and riding. On February 25th 1910, she died at her home aged just 36.
Her standing in the town attracted to her funeral many of the leading ‘names’ living in Kenilworth including Lincoln Chandler, Alfred and Mrs Herbert, members of the Nelson family, and Mrs Harry Quick. The Reverend Hanning said of her – “She had strong will power, which she made subservient to God’s will, though of times it was a struggle, but she was the conqueror”. He added that none of those present doubted “she was that day in paradise”.
Having paid for a public memorial to his wife, it was perhaps no surprise that George Turner made a similar gesture in memory of his daughter; this time instead of the 15 years he took to raise the clock tower, in just months he paid for the memorial window at St Nicholas church. On Sunday 4th September, the window was dedicated, very aptly as part of a children’s service. “In the window she is bringing the children to Jesus Christ, and the figure is an exact reproduction of her. She ever prayed that the children might be brought to Christ and she set a splendid example of what a lady can do, and did do, for this Parish. We still mourn and miss her.” The choir, singing ‘Brightly gleams our banner’, proceeded down the aisle to the window whereupon the vicar read the dedication and prayers.
George and Ann, and daughters Emily and Mary, lie together in St Nicholas churchyard. Emily’s memorial window is the first on the left upon entering the church.