101 years on – a birthday party to remember

A birthday party and a long-awaited celebration took part at St Mark’s Church on Sunday, 7th November – 101 years late!

Nick Seversway, a picture restorer who has led the work to bring about the restoration of the murals, writes:

“In 1920 Kitty Milroy completed her nine-year task of beautifying the walls of the chancel with her mural scheme depicting the Annunciation, The Benedicite and the joys of music (Psalm 150). The completion of her work seems to have passed without much fanfare at the time and Kitty Milroy’s achievement went largely unnoticed by the wider world. With the murals now conserved by Stephen Rickerby and Lisa Shekede and new lighting fitted thanks to the generosity of Farnham Public Art Trust (FPAT) they now look resplendent.

“Kitty was born on 8th November, 1885 and died on the 8th November 1966. St Mark’s now plans to hold a celebration service and evening event each year on the Sunday closest to this date in the forthcoming years.

“So, on this inaugural, day the Bishop of Dorking, Rt Rev’d Jo Bailey Wells, with assistance from Rev’d Lesley Crawley, led the celebrations with a morning service in the presence of the conservators and many who had been a part of the fundraising effort and those taking it forward.

“There was a rendition of Psalm 136 building to a stirring crescendo – the refrain being part of the wall design. The service weaved together the themes depicted in the murals with musical interludes provided by a group of musicians known as ‘The Mural Medlars’. 

“The Bishop gave a poignant sermon on the topic of restoration, saying: ‘Creation is a glorious feat for sure….’ but ‘The work of those in restoration is less glorious on the face of it because they spend their time in the dust, picking up broken things and mending them. On the face of it, many would see it as less creative, though I’d disagree vehemently – their work is utterly creative , re-creative, improvising from what has gone before. And through that painstaking work of mending broken thigs, they make possible a future that may be even bigger than the past’.

“The Bishop’s  words struck a real chord with me, a picture restorer, and with the conservators themselves who were visibly moved.  The Bishop went on to conclude: ‘Jesus Christ is all about mending broken things, and this includes you and me’.

“The Birthday and anniversary of Kitty Milroy was celebrated fully under the artwork she had created.  Somehow you feel she would have been rather pleased.”

Pictured below: scenes from the murals.

Pictured top from left: Frances Whewell, Lisa Shekede, Bob Shatwell, Jo Bailey Wells, Nick Seversway and Stephen Rickerby.

Kitty in later years

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