Cemeteries and graveyards, full of love, betrayal, tragic deaths, murder, and suicide. What will you find?

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Lady Nora Royce Docker and her Daughter

Taphophilia is a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries. The singular term is a taphophile.

Monuments to Lady Nora Docker and Felicity Callingham, St James The Less Churchyard, Stubbings, Pinkney's Green, Maidenhead Berkshire.

The term 'Lady Docker' is also used in a derogatory way in the north of England, to describe a woman who has pretensions to be of high station but who in reality is anything but.

Lady Nora Royce Docker was born Nora Royce Turner in Debry, Derbyshire on 23 June 1906 in a flat above a butcher's shop, to Sydney Royce Turner and Amy James. Sydney, a mechanical engineer, was a self-made man who after beginning his working life as a shopfitter for the chemists Boots, eventually invested in motor cars, setting up his own showroom in Birmingham.

Nora can be found on the 1911 Census living with her parents and her elder sister Bernice Amy Turner at Garrick House 152 Bristol Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Sadly in 1922 when Nora was 16 years old, her father suffered a nervous breakdown and committed suicide by throwing himself from the ferry between Holyhead and Dublin.

- "The Turners had to sell their car showroom and release their servants. Amy Turner invested in a pub – the Three Tuns at Sutton Coldfield – but Norah found it so difficult to adjust to her new life that she could not bring herself to work behind the bar.

She was even more dismayed when her mother decided to leave the thriving business to invest in another pub – this time the Swan Hotel at Tenbury Wells. This business quickly failed and the Turners were forced to return to Birmingham, now in financial difficulties.

This brief flirtation with poverty made Norah determined never to experience it again. Just before his suicide, her father had made her promise that she would take care of the family, should anything untoward happen to him."

In 1924 aged 18 Nora left for London to seek her fortunes and became a dancer at London's fashionable Cafe de Paris. It was here that she met her first husband Clement Callingham, head of Henekeys wine and spirit merchants. They soon set up home in Maidenhead, despite the fact Clement was waiting for a divorce from his estranged wife Pamela, who cited Nora in the action. In 1938 when Nora was 32, they married at Chelsea Registry Office. In 1939 their son Lance was born and later joined in 1943 by their daughter Felicity.

On the 1939 Register Nora, her husband Clement, and their young son Lance can be found living at Baddow House, Pinkney's Green, Maidenhead Berkshire, with several servants.

Tragically Felicity was to pass away at the tender age of nine months old. Her resting place is directly behind that of her mother.

In July of 1945 Clement Callingham became ill and shortly after passed away.

A year after the death of her first husband Nora married his elderly friend Sir William Collins, President of Fortnum & Mason in 1946 in Westminster. He too passed away in 1948.

Nora was married a third time in 1949 to Sir Bernard Dudley Frank Docker, chairman of Birmingham Small Arms, Daimler and a director of the Midland Bank, Anglo-Argentine Tramways and Thomas Cook and Son. Unfortunately, due to their excesses and as Nora felt, the attentions of the press and paparazzi, the couple were not well liked.  Nora was banned from the Lady's Enclosure at Royal Ascot due to her scandalous affair with her first husband, and from the Monte Carlo Casino for slapping a waiter.  Both Nora and Bernard found themselves banned from Monaco due to her behaviour during the christening party of Prince Albert, where Nora tore up a crepe Monegasque flag. Their christening gifts were even returned without a note. 

Bernard passed away in 1978 and Nora moved to Majorca, yet she frequently visited England and her beloved son Lance.

On December 11th 1983, Nora was discovered dead in her room at the Great Western Royal Hotel in London. She was 77 years old, and she had lived life to its fullest.

She now rests peacefully in a small Berkshire village churchyard along with her daughter and two of her three husbands. Almost forgotten.


  1. I worked at the Great Western Royal hotel in the 70s and remember Lord and Lady Docker very well and can say she was a really lovely lady it was sad to hear she had died alone. RIP.

  2. How nice to hear someone say something that ISN'T acidic, about someone they knew. People can been taken in many ways, and she didn't KILL anybody! I would like either to have known someone so stylish myself, or been older at the time, to understand more about what she was like! NYGEL MILLER


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