Tag Archives: Stephen Rickerby and Lisa Shekede

St Mark’s is a listed building

We are delighted to announce that St Mark’s is now a Grade II listed building.

Historic England this week named St Mark’s as one of the “most captivating places across the South East” and praised its “stunning” murals, painted by Kitty Milroy between 1911 and 1920.

The murals were restored earlier this year by wall painting conservationists Rickerby and Shekede and new lighting has been installed to show them off to their best advantage.

Kitty was an intermittent student at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. The Slade was noted for turning out a number of talented young muralists and Mary Sargant Florence, a major woman artist and muralist, led a fresco and tempera painting course there. There are records of Kitty exhibiting paintings both locally and in London, and drawings of the St Mark’s frescos were exhibited in the 1923 Winter Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Her only other known fresco scheme was in the chancel of the chapel at St Elphin’s School in Matlock, Derbyshire, which she painted between 1921 and 1931. These frescos were lost when the chapel was enlarged in the early 1940s.

The side walls and east end of the chancel at St Mark’s are covered in colourful paintings of religious scenes, including the Annunciation. Milroy’s imagery appears to draw on works by Botticelli such as Primavera and Birth of Venus. Her depiction of The Song of Creation blends personifications of elements of the natural world with imagery taken directly from her surroundings, from local landscapes and flora to the faces of fellow congregation members. The figure of ‘Water’ is believed to have been modelled on the Milroy family gardener, Edwin Thomas Warner.

Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston explained that listing St Mark’s and other historic sites is a way of protecting “our valuable heritage for future generations to learn from and ensure they are on the map for local people and visitors to be proud of and enjoy.”

Lesley Crawley, rector of the parish, added: “We are thrilled that St Mark’s has received this accolade. The murals are a real gem and we are really thankful that Kitty Milroy’s art and skill are being recognised. She was a truly gifted artist and the murals are stunning examples of her work and a testament to her faith as they depict joyful psalms and biblical scenes as well as the Benedicite, also known as the Song of Creation. The murals are also significant from the perspective of local history as the people who modelled for her were local villagers and we are gradually discovering who they were.

“We welcome people to come and see these beautiful works of art and the church which was built in the 1880s to serve the village of Upper Hale and is still serving the local community today.”


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

A Kitty Birthday Celebration

Come and celebrate the Kitty Milroy murals and Kitty herself at St Mark’s on November 7th at a special communion service at 11am, with the Bishop of Dorking and the mural restorers Stephen Rickerby and Lisa Shekede, and a concert and talk at 7pm.

The now-famous murals were restored earlier this year and new lighting has been installed so that they can be seen in their full glory. They are now recognised as being of national importance and a jewel in Surrey’s crown. So, on the day before the anniversary of Kitty’s birth in 1885 and, coincidentally, her death in 1966, we want to invite everyone to St Mark’s for a celebration.

The morning celebration will be a communion service at which the Rt Rev’d Jo Bailey Wells, Bishop of Dorking, will preach, and there will be a chance to hear from Stephen Rickerby and Lisa Shekede who spent 10 weeks painstakingly restoring the murals between April and June this year. In the evening there will be music, talks on the murals and Kitty, along with refreshments and, of course, the chance to see the murals.

Everyone is welcome at both the service and the evening celebration and there will be no charge, but to keep numbers manageable, particularly in the face of Covid, the evening event will be by ticket only. To book your tickets, click here.

The murals were painted between 1911 and 1920 and depict the Annunciation – the meeting between Mary and the Angel Gabriel when Mary is told she will be the mother of Jesus – as well as scenes from the Benedicite, an ancient hymn of praise to God about the wonders of the natural world, and local views. There are figures depicting the natural elements and seasons, and the models for these figures are known to be local people. The whole is a stunning creation by a hugely talented artist and the murals and Kitty herself are finally being given the recognition they deserve.

Come and celebrate this amazingly talented artist and her work.