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Madge Ashdown

Madge was born in Bishops Stortford and the family moved to London when she was young. 
She was the eldest and last surviving of four children, who died in the order of the youngest first.  Barbara died unmarried about 15 years ago.  Alan died in 1970 aged 48.  His son David has died leaving Tricia and Michael.  Her brother Anthony was in the RAF and was killed in a flying accident a month before his daughter Diana was born.  

Madge lived with her parents at 68 Buckingham Avenue, Whetstone and it remained her home until Dulcie’s death.  She worked in a factory during the war.  She had a brief marriage.  Dulcie was born in 1946 and was looked after by Madge’s parents while she went out to work.  She worked as a secretary/pa in the City.  Her last job was with Kleinwort Benson where she was the personal private secretary to one of the bosses.  She was well regarded and so they asked her to stay on in work past her retirement age.  She continued working until she was about 70.  Nevertheless she had a retirement of 25 years!

I think it is fair to say that Dulcie and Madge had a difficult relationship.  They spent over 60 years living together.  A few days before she died Dulcie sent for me and shared her thoughts.  Madge had gone to stay at Apthorpe Lodge for a respite period and things were difficult between them.  But once established at Apthorpe, where she was very happy, Madge kept pictures of Dulcie around her in her room and expressed her pride in her daughter’s achievements as the author of many historical works and as a preacher.

Madge enjoyed eating out and socialising, including at the Café Royal.  I’m told she had a couple of gentlemen friends.  She told the story how in the 1960s, if she was out late and missed the last train to stop at Oakleigh Park, she would have a word with the guard who asked the driver to slow down at the station and she would jump out.

Madge enjoyed traveling.  She went with Dulcie to Paignton every year and in her later years, she went to Europe including cruises and visits to Switzerland and Italy.  She enjoyed Emmerdale and Coronation Street, quiz programmes and knitting.

She had been attending another church but was very hurt by the actions of the then vicar towards her and left.  Dulcie started attending the Sunday school here at East Barnet Methodist Church.  Madge told me she would sit outside and wait for her daughter.  A church member spoke to her and said she might as well wait inside.  So began a long association with this church, becoming a Sunday school teacher.  She liked meeting new people and was an entertaining conversationalist.   I’m told that she became very attached to baby Isaac who I baptised here just over a year ago.  Joe and Mary Ryan would pick her up every week and bring her to church.   I noticed that she had fallen asleep during one of my sermons and pulled her leg about it.  She hotly denied it and said she had heard everything I had said about John Wesley.  She had a good sense of humour.  She lived a simple life but she enjoyed herself.  She was always grateful for help she was given and appreciated all the visitors she had.  She didn’t want to live to be 100 and was often heard to say ‘I’m still here.’

She enjoyed her visits to the Salvation Army weekday meeting and reported back on the songs sung and whether she had used the tambourine at all.

Sheila asked people for their memories, and summed up what she was told by these words, “She was a lovely lady, we all held her in so much love and affection, she was always there, there will be a big hole.”

She believed in the resurrection and that we will all meet again in the afterlife.  


Edited part of the address given by the Revd Colin Smith at Madge’s funeral service held at Brookside on 22nd August 2016.  It was a very well attended service with people from Brookside, St Mary’s, Manor Drive, the Salvation Army, Apthorpe Lodge and the wider community.  Colin is grateful to Sheila Mortimer and Madge’s nice Tricia for their help.