404 Hampstead Garden Suburb Virtual Museum : Document : Madge Turner [SUFL38]
Madge Turner
Madge Turner

Madge Turner

Ethel Margaret ‘Madge’ Turner was born 24 July 1884 in Chichester.

Her father ran a grocery and provisions business. She was 17 when her mother died and she became responsible for caring for her younger siblings. However, she was a talented artist and was a student at Chichester School of Art, studying alongside Eric and Macdonald Gill.

By 1905 she was involved with Liberal politics and in 1906 was making pro-suffrage speeches in and around Chichester. In June 1908, the WFL suffrage caravan arrived in Chichester and was supported by Madge. By July, a West Sussex WFL branch was established in nearby Midhurst. In February 1909, she was the West Sussex delegate to a WFL meeting in London. She was one of more than 50 women who attempted to march to Downing Street to deliver a resolution to PM Asquith. Madge was one of the 25 who were arrested and charged with obstruction. Found guilty and refusing to pay the £2 fine she was sentenced to 14 days in Holloway Prison. On her return to Chichester she spoke at public meetings about her prison experience and was hailed in the local press as “The Chichester Martyr”. She described “the long, lonely hours” but also said “the more I thought, the more determined I was to go on with this movement”.

Following this, she started to have a higher national profile within the organisation and in 1910 was working as an ‘organiser’, a paid position for the WFL, including periods in Scotland and London.

In the 1911 census, Alison Neilans and Madge Turner are recorded as living at 65 Gloucester Crescent, St Pancras, with another woman. The form was not completed by any of them but by an enumerator. The front of the form states, “Homeless persons found in Hampstead Road, NW” and the details are annotated ‘police report’. It is likely that they were attempting to evade the census, as per WFL policy.

Madge was appointed Assistant Secretary and Librarian for the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene. She also edited its monthly publication, The Shield. Both continued to work for the AMSH until 1941 when Alison retired due to ill health. Madge became Secretary, serving until her own retirement in 1945.

Both women lived in Asmuns Place (at 25 from c.1912 to 1935, then at 21 and later at 34).

Alison died in 1943 and Madge in 1948.

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Document, SUFL38