Mary Turner Shares Her Memories

Mary Turner Shares Her Memories

Mary Turner writes:

It was a wonderful surprise to receive the book “From Hillside to Farnborough Hill” from my daughter on my 80th birthday (pictured left).  I was delighted to see a photograph of my family on the page headed “The Murray Family”.  I had never seen this photo before.  In the photo (see below right) is my great-aunt Josephine Murray who was the first pupil at the school, my mother, Esme, holding my baby sister Ann, my great-aunt Mother Justina Murray and my father, Robert P Murray.  Sadly, my father died in 1943 in North Africa during the war.  My mother always kept in touch with Mother Justina and they corresponded regularly until Mother Justina died at the age of 95 in 1976.

This lovely book has brought back so many memories of my school days at Farnborough Hill, I was a pupil at the school from 1941 to 1953.

I started as a new entrant at 5 years old, and was taught by Mother Mattes, she was so kind, and I remember making raffia bags in craft classes.  Then on to the big school where my great-aunt Mother Justina taught me French. I was a day girl and remember the boarders used to nag us to bring in the latest comics, “Girls Crystal” and “Schoolfriend” so very different to modern day teenage magazines. Other nuns I remember were Mother Bickford who was in charge of sport and Mother Horan, very strict but always fair.  At mid-morning break in the Winter the sisters always warmed the ice-cold milk and made us cocoa.  I also have a very fond memory of a delicious pudding which was a white blancmange sitting in a pool of golden syrup. 

During the war years when the air raid warnings sounded we all rushed into the cloakroom under the hut. The hut was the gym in my day.  I remember being in a school performance of  “The Girls of St Trinians” when I played the part of Miss Gossage. 

I loved my time at Farnborough Hill and attended an old girls reunion with my sister Ann when I visited England in 1998.  I have always kept my old school blazer and my daughter made me put it on for the photo. 

Mary Turner (née Murray) is the great-granddaughter of Lt Colonel Robert Walter Murray who together with his sister, Mother Caroline Murray helped to found the school in 1889.  Not long after she left school Mary married a British Army Officer, Jamie Turner, and had four children.  She emigrated to New Zealand with her family in 1967 and lives in Torbay, Auckland. She has eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  Mary is in good health, an active member of the local walking group, belongs to an embroiderers guild and still cooks amazing dinners for her family who all live close by.  

The photo (bottom left) is of Mary aged about 4 with Mother Justina and her father, Robert P Murray in uniform on the steps of Farnborough Hill in 1940.

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