Thursday, April 8, 2010

St Bernardus in the Chancel North window and Revd. B. R. V. Mills

Ask and ye shall receive, as the verse goes…

I don't recall exactly how I found what I hadn't quite expected—searching the internet is like trying to see one of those weird Magic Eye images instantly, looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, and doing all of the "across" clues in the Times Sunday Crossword without having a glance at the "downs", all at once.

Especially given the proclivity of newspapers and periodicals of the late 19th and early 20th century to play fast and loose with things like spelling—I've seen George Mills' surname spelled Mill, Milles, Hills, and Miles, as well as seeing virtually every editor on every newspaper more than 100 miles from London "correct" the Earl of Orford, turning him into the "Earl of Oxford"—it can be tough to search every conceivable permutation of every sentence, phrase, or series of letters in a word.

Do some math and you'll quickly find out how many different possibilities there might be to search for, say, George's father, Reverend Barton Reginald Vaughan Mills, once vicar in Bude, Cornwall. Just try searching his name with each of Reverend, Rev.,
and Revd. tacked on, and you may not just get tired of checking each plethora of results, you may get simply tired of typing. Try it with all of various combinations of his initials and it gets even more time consuming.

And sometimes you can't even predict how an internet source will read. My best example: "ABTHT7B MILLS, Bbq., IC.P." = "ARTHUR MILLS, Esq., M.P." That's George's father, pictured right. I wish I could say it was anything but luck that allowed me to work that one out!

Anyway, I was running a search on Google for "Revd Barton Mills" when I stumbled upon this record in The National Archives, among the Diocesan Records in the Cornwall Record Office: "[no title] D/R/10/7 27 May 1932 Contents: Erection of stained glass memorial window to the Revd. Barton Mills wwith bronze tablet, with correspondence and design."

Cool! I immediately sent of an e-mail to the Diocese at Truro, and, fter having my message forwarded around the Diocese, I received the following reply:

Dear Mr Williams

I have the following information on the window at St Michael & All Angels parish church at Bude Haven.

The single light window is located in Chancel North. It was inserted in 1932 (Faculty granted on 6th July 1932). It was designed by Hubert Blanchford of Exeter, a local studio with a very small output, but responsible for three windows at Bude. It is dedicated to Revd Barton Reginald Vaughn Mills, and I have a note that he was an authority on St Augustine. I have no details of the content of any memorial plaque. I have attached a photograph, and apologise for the poor quality.

Best wishes on your research

Michael Swift
Stained glass adviser to the Diocese of truro

Many thanks, Michael, to you and the Diocese of Truro for both the information and the image. What a wonderful memorial and tribute to a man and his life's work, may he rest in peace. If you do click the image, it will enlarge it some!

I didn't know that about Barton and St. Augustine. I knew [and you can see from the window] his special interest at one point in his career was St Bernard of Clairvaux, although that was some years after he left the vicarage at Bude Haven in 1901. I am, however, hot on the trail of a
friend of Barton's, the Revd. Watkin W. Williams [one of the clerics presiding over the wedding of George Mills and Vera Beauclerk in 1925]. I believe Williams also wrote on St. Bernard, and that he and Barton Mills helped each other research, translate, and interpret his writings. Watkins did, I'm certain, attend St. Augustine Missionary College in Canterbury. A link? Who knows?

I do know Williams was rector in Drayton St. Leonard, pictured at right, and I'm waiting to hear from them, although I understand that it was long ago...

Well, while I wisely wait for word on Watkin Wynn Williams, I'm sure we all wish for me wisdom: The wisdom of knowing when to stop using alliteration in such an annoying way!

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