Category Archives: Kitty Milroy

Caravan Jazz: a great total and some big thanks

Wendy Edwards sends a huge thank you to everyone who helped in any way to make Caravan Jazz on 4th May  at St. Mark’s Church the great success it was.

Wendy says: “I thoroughly enjoyed singing with the talented Teddy’s Café Bar Jazzmen  and vocalists Melissa Heathcote and Mike Twiddy.  I could not have managed this event  without the help of so many people who willingly gave their time, talents and money. Many thanks to you all.”

The evening was dedicated to the loving memory of the late Jean and Ted Parratt, Wendy’s parents, who died in 2016 and 2018 respectively. It was a celebration of the jazz they listened to in the caravans they lived in between 1956 and 1962 in what Jean called The Hungry Years when they were at their happiest, though at their poorest financially.

The event raised an impressive £900 for the Kitty Milroy Murals to which Gift Aid can be added. Wendy has also had a video made which will be available in a few weeks.

Pictured above are Jean and Ted in a field in 1956.
Pictured below: The Bluebird Caravan in which the family lived in 1957 at Mere Road Caravan Site, Waddington, Lincolnshire.

A packed audience listened to the music and learned about the Parratt family’s early years.

 

Bluebird caravan 1957

 

Caravan Jazz (1) 04.05.19

Moon finds resting place in Hale

A Hale woman who was used as a model for one of the murals in St Mark’s Church has found her final resting place back in the village.

Joyce Helen Taman, née Eglington, whose ashes were interred in Hale Cemetery on April 5, was born in 1926, and was the model for the figure of Moon when one part of the murals was renovated and repainted in 1946.

Joyce was the youngest of three children and grew up in Vicarage Lane in Hale. She was educated at Hale School where she excelled at maths, and on leaving at the age of 14 was employed in the accounts department at Kinghams, a grocery distribution warehouse in Farnham’s West Street. She married Alexander Mitchell, a member of the military police based at the prisoner-of-war camp in Crookham village whom she met at a dance.

It is not clear how she was chosen to be the model for Moon, but she was always very proud of what she jokingly called her ‘muriel’. By the 1940s, some of the murals which had been painted by Kitty Milroy between 1911 and 1920 required renovation. A fundraising appeal was launched after Easter 1946 and among the fundraisers was the well-known soprano Joan Coxon who put on a concert which raised more than £13, around £500 in today’s money.

The paintings which needed restoring were to the left of the altar where damp had affected them and local painter Evelyn Caesar carried out the restoration, choosing Joyce to sit for Moon. Next to Moon is ‘Clouds’, a male figure, and his identity is still a mystery, as are the identities of many of the figures whom Kitty Milroy painted.

Moon was identified by two of Joyce’s daughters, Jeannette and Wendy-Rae, who came into the church last year while on a nostalgic trip around the area where they grew up. Joyce and Alexander (Alec) settled in Folly Lane North and brought up four children who attended St Mark’s and two even sang in the choir, beneath the picture of their mother.

In later life Joyce remarried and moved to the Midlands and in January this year died in Bournedale House care home in Birmingham at the age of 92. The family and friends returned to St Mark’s this month to celebrate Joyce’s life and her ashes were interred in the cemetery close to others in her family. At the service to celebrate her life, her son-in-law Roger stood beneath the picture of Joyce as Moon and played Blue Moon on his saxophone, a fitting tribute to a much-loved Hale lady.

If anyone has any information on who ‘Clouds’ might be, or any of the other figures in the murals please let us know. You can contact us here or email news@badshotleaandhale.org

Pictured top is Joyce Eglington on her 21st birthday, shortly after she was the model for Moon.

 

Moon

Moon, modelled by Joyce Eglington.

Clouds

Who is Clouds?

Caravan, The Hungry Years and all that jazz

An evening of jazz in memory of Farnham journalists Jean and Ted Parratt

There will be an evening of jazz at St Mark’s Church, Hale, on Saturday, May 4 in memory of Jean and Ted Parratt, local journalists and parents of Wendy Edwards, a licensed lay reader in the parish.

‘Caravan Jazz on a May Evening’, which will begin at 7.30pm, will feature songs by Django Reinhardt, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller and others, and will recall the time that Ted and Jean and their young children would enjoy jazz songs in the caravan which was their home in Lincolnshire. Ted drew the picture of their first caravan – reproduced above – just before Wendy’s birth.

From her birth in October 1957 to the age of four, Wendy and her brother and sister, Mark and Debbie, lived with Jean and Ted in various sized caravans as the family grew.

By day, Ted was doing his National Service in the RAF, but in the evenings back in the caravan with Jean and the children, he played jazz on his guitar, sometimes accompanied by his best friend, Terry Blackwell. On other nights, Jean’s walnut-cased radiogram would be tuned in, often to a jazz station.

Wendy has been researching her parents’ early life and recalls that her mother: “cared wonderfully well for us through the changing seasons, making potato soup with very few potatoes (we were very challenged financially) but always ensuring we were well fed and well loved. My mother enjoyed the jazz too in the evenings and ‘made do and mended’ the family’s clothes, while jazz melodies and rhythms lullabied us children to sleep.”

Jean and Ted worked for many years as journalists and photographers on first the Surrey & Hants News and then The Farnham Diary, with Ted also working for the Farnham Herald, and Jean busy writing local history books and giving talks, particularly inspiring many young people to discover more about the past. Jean died in 2016 and Ted in 2018.

On May 4, as well as the jazz, Wendy will share some of her knowledge and photographs of the early years. She says: “My mother called that time The Hungry Years, but they both believed these were the happiest in their 60-year-long marriage.”

Joining Wendy on the evening will be Frances Whewell on keyboard and Teddy’s Café Bar Jazzmen and other talented vocalists.  A light supper is included but bring your own drinks.

Admission is free but all donations are welcome for the Kitty Milroy Murals Fund at St. Mark’s Church. However, Wendy adds: “If, like Jean and Ted in The Hungry Years, you cannot afford to donate anything, please do join us anyway as all are very welcome indeed!”

To book your place, call Wendy Edwards on 07740 082460.

 

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