We are thrilled to announce that St Mark’s has been shortlisted in the 2022 Surrey Heritage Awards.
St Mark’s, which was given Grade II listed status by English Heritage in December 2021, was entered for the awards following the restoration of the ‘Kitty Milroy murals’, painted by local artist Eleanor Catherine Wallace Milroy, known as Kitty, between 1911 and 1920.
The Surrey Heritage Awards were established by the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust to recognise ‘Best Practice’ in historic building conservation in Surrey, and the murals have played an important part in the conservation of St Mark’s, a Victorian church built by local people in the 1880s and still a vibrant part of community life. The murals are now recognised as being of both local and national importance, particularly as examples of the development of mural art and the recognition of women’s painting in the 20th century.
Making the announcement, Surrey Historic Buildings Trust described St Mark’s as: “A late-Victorian church … noted for its stunning wall murals painted by local artist Kitty Milroy, a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art. These murals had deteriorated and faded after a century’s accumulation of dirt, so the local community rallied round to raise the funds for a major project to clean, repair and restore the murals to their former glory.”
Andy Smith, Director of Surrey Historic Buildings Trust, added: “The restoration of Kitty Milroy’s amazing murals at St Mark’s has been one of the most interesting projects the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust has been involved with in recent years, and I was delighted to hear that the project had been shortlisted for the Surrey Heritage Awards 2022. It was also wonderful to learn just a few weeks ago that the church had been given Grade II listed status. Hopefully this will generate greater interest in Kitty Milroy’s work, and in early-twentieth-century artwork of this kind.
“We are fortunate here in Surrey to have a number of churches with beautiful and intriguing wall paintings, including rare survivals from the medieval period, but the Milroy murals, dating from the period just before the First World War, are especially striking and thought-provoking. St Mark’s Church is very fortunate to have these extraordinary paintings and I hope more people will visit the church to view them.”
The murals were restored in 2021 by wall painting conservationists Stephen Rickerby and Lisa Shekede who described them as “stunning” and called Kitty a “major, but unrecognised, artist”.
Lesley Crawley said: “We are utterly delighted that St Mark’s has been shortlisted for an award. It is testament to the love and care that has been poured into the church over many years – from when it was built by the villagers in the 1880s; through the installation of the Edwardian organ, affectionately known as Emily; and the painting of the beautiful Kitty Milroy murals in the early 20th century; and right through to the present day with the restoration of those murals.
“There is not just local history here but a real sense of a warm community building, cherished and used by the village where it has stood for almost 140 years, and where people can come to seek God and find welcome.”
A team of judges will visit St Mark’s on March 3 and the results will be announced at an awards ceremony to be held on March 30 at Brooklands Museum in Weybridge.
St Mark’s is open on Sundays at 11am and Wednesdays at 12pm for services. It is also open on the third Saturday of the month for a craft market, 10am-2pm. The next one is February 19.
There are six buildings on the shortlist. In addition to St Mark’s, the buildings are: The Old Well Cottage, Peaslake; Mansion House Farm, Crowhurst; Naggs Stable, Loseley Park, Guildford; Colquhoun Chapel, Brookwood; and The Horton, Epsom.
Pictured top is the chancel at St Mark’s with the Kitty Milroy murals.