There is a mystery to be solved in Farnham – how did a woman from Hale come to paint a series of rare and important murals in a local church in the early 20th century and who were her subjects?
The murals in question are on the walls of St Mark’s Church and have been found to be of national importance, as an audience at the church discovered when they attended a talk at the church on October 20.
The talk followed a report by the internationally renowned painting conservation practice Rickerby and Shekede which placed the murals at a crucial time in the stylistic and technical development of mural paintings.
“They were painted between 1911 and 1920,” said Lesley Crawley who presented the talk along with Bob Skinner, who has carried out extensive research into Kitty Milroy’s background, and painting restorer Nick Seversway who has studied the paintings. “There are similarities with the work of Mary Watts who designed the Watts Chapel in Compton and we know she visited Hale House. Kitty and others in her family were living in Oast House nearby. There may be some link between her visit and Kitty.”
The paintings blend influences from European Symbolist painting and the Arts and Crafts Movement and represent Biblical scenes such as the Annunciation (when the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus), the Benedicite – a song in which the natural world praises God – and the four writers of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There are also local scenes and views and it is known that the figures are of local people but their identities are now a mystery. “We know they were local but we don’t have any more information as there are no records,” said Lesley. “If anyone does know of anything, please do let us know.”
The murals are in need of restoration and the church is now beginning the process of applying for grants and seeking other sources of funding to help bring out the full glory of these important works of art which should put Hale on the artistic map.
If anyone knows who the figures in the paintings may be, or has any further information about Kitty Milory, please contact Lesley on 01252 820537 or firstname.lastname@example.org