Category Archives: Kitty Milroy

A comforting croodle

The Celtic musical tradition of the British Isles is a rich one, with music which has been passed down the generations in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the North East of England, and which has permeated non-Celtic culture. After all, don’t we all sing Auld Lang Syne at new year?

Auld Lang Syne is not the only familiar Celtic tune – there are plenty which most of us can sing along to, something ably demonstrated by the Celtic Croodle which took part at St Mark’s Church last Saturday evening (February 9), thanks to the hard work and talent of Wendy Edwards with support from Frances Whewell.

To croodle means to snuggle together and St Mark’s looked cosy and warm, offering welcome after a wet February day.  We sat around tables while Wendy, accompanied on the piano by Frances, led us on a musical tour of the Celtic parts of the British Isles, encouraging us to join in.

We started and ended in Scotland and en route we learned a little of the background to each song, though sometimes the origins are obscure. So we learned, for instance that the ‘low road’ in Loch Lomon (“O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road, And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye,”) may refer to the tradition that the soul of a dead Scot who died abroad was taken back to rest in Scotland by a secret road; and that Bobby Shafto (a north-eastern song) was an 18th century politician who may well have dandled a baby or two in the hope of improving his reputation (“Bobby Shafto’s gettin’ a bairn/For to dangle on his arm”).

On the trip through Ireland among those we learned and sang about were young Mollie Malone, and an Irish émigré shocked by the fashions and attitudes of 19th-century London, writing back to his true love in a valley near the Mountains of Mourne. In Wales as well as singing along lustily to Land of My Fathers (and not a rugby ball in sight), we listened to Wendy sing beautiful songs including David of the White Rock and we were moved by All through the Night, before hurrying back to Scotland to join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne.

As well as the music, Wendy had provided a light Celtic supper of oatcakes, cheese, cheese and onion ‘sausages’, shortbread and Welsh cakes, which we enjoyed at the interval.

It was a happy, comforting and relaxing evening, an antidote to the February blues that can strike us. It also raised £200 in donations for the Kitty Milroy murals appeal through which we are planning to restore the rare and important murals in the chancel at St Mark’s.

Wendy is holding another musical evening at St Mark’s in May. This one will be a jazz evening in memory of her parents, renowned local journalists and historians Jean and Ted Parratt. It will take place at the church on May 4 from 7.30pm.  A light meal will be included but please bring your own drinks. The evening will also raise money for the Kitty Milroy murals,

A Celtic Croodle

Everyone is invited to an old-fashioned Celtic singalong at St Mark’s on February 9 from 7.30pm.

The Celtic ‘Croodle’ will trace a journey in song through Scotland, the north-east of England, Ireland and Wales, led by Wendy Edwards, accompanied by Frances Whewell.

There will be a light Celtic supper (oatcakes, cheese, Welsh cakes and shortbread) – bring your own drinks.

To croodle means to snuggle together so come along to snuggle and sing with us, in aid of restoring the Kitty Milroy murals at St Mark’s. All donations gratefully received.

The mystery of the artist in the church

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 revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org