Hugh Thackeray Turner

Godalming Museum, ref: 3084


Hugh Thackeray Turner (1853-1937) was an architect by profession, and an amateur china painter. He was apprenticed to Sir George Gilbert Scott, and then worked under his son. In 1888 he married Mary Elizabeth Powell, daughter of Thomas Wilde Powell of Guildford. He designed Wycliffe Buildings (1894), The Court (1902), and Mead Cottage in Guildford. A dissertation on the The Life & Works of Hugh Thackeray Turner, A Study of an Arts and Crafts Architect, and The Beginning of the Conservation Movement (2006) has been donated to the Godalming Museum Local Studies Library.

His daughter, Ruth Turner, married Mount Everest climber, George Leigh Mallory (1886-1924), who taught at Charterhouse. Mallory married Ruth within months of meeting her in 1914.

Locally Turner purchased an old barn in Charterhouse Road adapted it and presented it to the Parish Church where it was used as the headquarters for the church troop of Boy Scouts. Turner set up the West Surrey Society to help “in preserving all that is of interest in the district”, and he remained Chairman until his death. In 2007 the society held its last function at Westbrook, which also celebrated its centenary. He was a member of the Godalming Town Council from 1907-1910. Turner designed, along with Gertrude Jekyll, the Godalming riverside Philips Memorial Cloister commemorating the Titanic hero, Jack Philips.

Turner was a colleague of William Morris, and appointed the first secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), from 1885-1911.

In 1899 Turner bought land in Godalming to build a house and designed Westbrook, which was to become his place of residence. There he designed the garden featured in Gardens for Small Country Houses (1912), and Country Life published articles on the house and garden. The garden was placed on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Interest in England (2003) describing them as a “perfect example of early 20th century gardens.”

Turner’s reputation as a china painter has been acknowledged in the Decorative Arts Society Journal (2003). He painted on china for at least fifty years producing on average six pieces a year, and followed the principals of the Arts and Crafts Movement where he exhibited his work. Godalming Museum has examples of his work on display. There is a plaque in the parish church of St Peter and St Paul in Godalming.

In memory of
Hugh Thackeray
8th March 1853-1937 Dec 11th
of Westbrook Godalming

An architect
and an artist in the craft
of building, who devoted
most of his life to the saving
& repairing of the ancient
buildings of England, and
to the preservation of the
beauties of the countryside

Godalming Museum © 2007


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