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Fenwick, Ethel Gordon

It was on the morning of April 9. 1947, a day of fitful spring sunshine, that the ashes of our late President, Mrs Bedord Fenwick, were interred in the peaceful precincts of Thoroton Church, Nottingham, where the funeral service, privately arranged for members of her family, was conducted by the Vicar of Thoroton, the Rev. W.E.D. Thomson. The last journey of her earthly remains lay though the lanes, highways and quaint villages of the beautiful Trent Valley, of which she was ever reminiscent, and where the ladscape, now recovering from the grip of long winter, showed signs of the rising of soft verdure, over this unspoiled countryside, the familiar scene of her earliest years that led at last to the perfect little pile of Thoroton Church.

Here the impressive Memorial service to Ethel Gordon Fenwick was held.The casket of ashes, with flowers of unsurpassed beauty, lay before the altar steps in this sanctuary of calm dating from Tudors time, where Easter flowers were still fresh in their glory. How often in her early youth must she have passed along the aisles and beneath the Norman arches, or in her appreciation of antiquity gazed on the Saxon window of the Church she loved! As the service proceeds in the rendering of the XXIV Psalm could her spirit be there with her only son Mr C.B. Fenwick K.C., her daughter in law, Mrs Christian Fenwick, and her grandson, David, when paying their last tribute to her memory?

Close by is the window raised in memory to her mother and stepfather where it is written: "In memory of George Storer, their stepfather, and Harriette, hhis wife, this window was erected by their children, Clara, Ethel and Eric, 1909".

Leaving the church, the casket is laid in her grave where sweet violets are dropped and, as we turn at the close of the commital service, we leave her at rest amongst her ancestors where, just visible though the trees close by, stands the home of her youth, Thoroton Hall. And beyond. Almost as far as the eyes can see, meadow and uplands remain just as she knew them almost 90 years ago. Matchless in her time, as a defender of the cause of justice and liberty of conscience, the name of Ethel Gordon Fenwick will go down in history among the great, in those peerless words: "I have fought the good fight".

By the courtesy of her grandson, Mr David Fenwick, we are able to reproduce the church of her youth and the scene of her last resting place. ASB.


Registration number1
First name(s)Ethel Gordon

20 Upper Wimpole Street, London W

Date of registration7 March 1890

Children's Hospital, Nottingham
Royal Infirmary, Manchester
London Hospital
St Bartholomew's


Deceased March 1947

Personal details

Date of birth26 January 1857
Place of birthSpinney House, Nr Elgin, Morayshire
Maiden nameManson
Married nameBedford-Fenwick
Family details

Parents: David Davidson Manson, farmer and Harriette Palmer of Thurnscoe, Yorkshire

Date of death1947
Place of deathFriend's house in Colney Hatch, London

Professional details

Additional training

1 April 1878 paying probationer Children's Hospital, Nottingham
Sep 1878 - 89 paying probationer Royal Infirmary, Manchester - incl 8 weeks in charge of surgical unit + acting matron Barnes Comvalescent Hospital nearby

Work experience

1881 - 87, Matron, St Bartholomew's

Additional professional details

Opened the Cordon House Home Hospital
1892, Appointed Member of the Women's Committee of the British Royal Commission for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago
1887, Founder Royal British Nurses Assoc.
1888, Founder and 1st President International Council of Nurses
1904, Editor of The Nursing Record/British Journal of Nurses


Register of Nurses (RBNA 4/1) - Royal British Nurses' Association Records, King's College London Archives

Susan McGann, 'Mrs Bedford-Fenwick - A Restless Genius',  The Battle of the Nurses

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