Marie Turral

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MARIE Barbara Turral, who was a talented artist, an authority on scented sweet peas and an adventurous person who thought nothing of travelling alone in some of the world’s wild places, has died aged 87.

Her knowledge of scented sweet peas she shared with her husband Major John Turral.

They spent much of their time propagating and creating hybrids of the plant following their marriage in 1958, until he died in 1967. They lived in a cottage on the Farnley estate, near Otley, where she stayed until two years ago.

In 1970, a display of their scented sweet pea flowers was a special feature of a Crafts Council Arts Fair, which had been arranged by Nicholas and Audrey Horton-Fawkes at their home at Farnley Hall, near Otley.

Mrs Turral was born Marie Barbara Roux in Johannesburg into the prosperous Huguenot Roux family.

She was educated at Johannesburg Girls’ High School, and Witwatersrand University where she initially studied medicine. But when she found that she could not bring herself to dissect the human head she turned to architecture and completed her degree.

Her first job was at a firm in Cape Province where she also helped on her family’s Petervale Estate where they farmed fruit.

In her youth, her striking looks and jet black hair attracted a leading South African painter whose portrait of her is now in the Anton Rupert Foundation in that country.

Mrs Turral first met her husband when she was 18 when, with her mother, she visited seriously wounded British troops who had been evacuated to South Africa following the North Africa Campaign during the Second World War.

The couple were married in England in 1958, when she was 34, but he died nine years later from the long term injuries he received the during the war while serving with the Royal Artillery.

Mrs Turral was widely travelled, having lived in Switzerland for a time, but she was particularly attracted to wild places such as the Kalahari and Namaqualand in her native South Africa.

She rarely travelled without her sketch book. She enjoyed fine buildings and works of art and also produced her own paintings, pottery and sculpture. She was a member of Otley Arts Club and had exhibited at Cartwright Hall, in Bradford, in the 1960s.

She was fluent in Afrikaans and German.

Among the architectural practices she worked for were that of Sir Thomas Bennett in London, and Messrs Barker and Jordan in Bradford. Her professional drawings were of such a high standard they were displayed in museums.

A memorial service for Mrs Turral will be held in the New Year at All Saints’ Church, Farnley, where for many years she was a churchwarden, and a governor of the Church of England School.

Her older brother Adriaan, who had been a professor at Witwatersrand University, predeceased her.

She is survived by her son John and four grandchildren who live in the United States.