Monday, March 7, 2011

Profile: Rev. Canon Ralph Creed Meredith












It's a busy week here in the sunny South as I am expecting company this week in the form of my beautiful daughters. Hence, I'm pulling out some items here that don't require a lot of writing, and for which much of the research already has been done.

Following up on an earlier post, the Mills siblings—George, Agnes, and Violet—played croquet with and against a plethora of interesting players. One of them, the Ven. Ralph Creed Meredith [left] was, among his other accomplishments, chaplain to George VI and Elizabeth II.

More information about Meredith has come to light since I first wrote about him, and that knowledge led me to create his own Wikipedia profile. After all, he seemed to be virtually the only one in his family without one!

Here's my contribution:

The Ven. Ralph Creed Meredith, M.A., (10 July 1887 – 10 January 1970) was an Anglican Cleric who, according to the 1932 Crockford's Clerical Directory, in succession became a curate at Caverswall, Meir, Staffordshire (1912–1914), curate at St. Bartholomew's Church, Armley, Leeds (1914–1917), served the Diocese of Lichfield (1917–1918), was curate of St. Peter's Church, Harborne, Birmingham (1919–1920), and eventually took charge of the Conventional District of Bournville, a village south of Birmingham diocese from 1920-1924. His success at Bournville led the Bishop of Wellington to appoint Meredith Vicar of Whanganui, New Zealand in 1924, where he remained until 1932. He eventually became Archdeacon of Waitotara (1925–1932) as well, despite using addresses in both New Zealand and Hertfordshire, England during that time.

Meredith was a Freemason and an athlete of some note. After arriving in New Zealand in 1924, he was the winner of several New Zealand National Badminton Championships in 1927 and 1928, and was a world class croquet player, having performed for the New Zealand team competing for the 1930 MacRobertson International Croquet Shield, which fell to Australia, 3-0. Meredith also competed in numerous croquet tournaments in southern England and Ireland after relocating from The Vicarage in Windsor to Parkstone, Dorset. Meredith is credited with being the "prime mover" in the 1927 formation of Badminton New Zealand (then known as the New Zealand Badminton Association), of which he was president for two years. He was also president of the New Zealand Croquet Association and the Manawatu Association.

Meredith required surgery in April 1931 and had travelled to England for the procedure. On his return voyage, emergency surgery was required during a stopover in Port Said, Egypt. Subsequently in poor health, he accepted an offer from the Marquess of Salisbury to take over the Parish of Cheshunt, St. Albans, in Hertfordshire in 1932. According to Kelly's 1933 and 1937 Directories of Hertfordshire, Meredith served as Vicar at St. Mary the Virgin and was Rural Dean of Ware, Hertfordshire, residing at The Vicarage, Churchgate. He also served as Vicar of Windsor, 1940-1958. In 1946, Meredith was appointed Chaplain to His Majesty, King George VI, and maintained a place in the College of Chaplains of the Ecclesiastical Household of Elizabeth II on 5 August 1952.

Meredith was born in Dublin, Ireland, where he was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and Dublin University, receiving his B.A. in Ethics & Logic with Honors after the Michaelmas Term in 1909. Meredith earned his M.A. at Trinity in 1912. He had earlier been educated at Rhos College in North Wales. He married Sylvia Aynsley (sometimes Ainsley) of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, on 21 April 1915, and died in Poole, Dorset, England, where he had served as Rural Dean since 1962.


Ironically, just hours after posting the article to Wikipedia, it was happened upon by Meredith's grandson, Jules, who believed he could identify his grandfather and grandmother in the 1957 Devonshire Park photograph [left] from the website of the Bowdon Croquet Club.

Here's what Jules had to say:

"Although not 100% sure (image resolution/quality) - My grandfather is on the back row (2nd from right) and I believe that the lady (front row - 3rd from left) is my grandmother Sylvia Meredith (nee Aynsley 1894-1987). She was also a keen croquet player and, along with grandfather, was a member of the East Dorset Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club."

In addition, Bowdon's Ken Cooper passed along this bit of information from croquet legend Dr. W. P. Ormerod regarding Meredith's identification of his grandparents corresponding to the numbered Devonshire Park image [right]:

"Canon and Mrs.Creed-Meredith I knew also quite well from the 1950's. I am not convinced that No.14 is him; the height is about right but he invariably… played in his dog-collar—he also had a club foot and surgical boot which of course we can't see. I am also not certain that No.52 is Sylvia C-M, but I knew them both much better at Parkstone from 1965. However I'm sure Jules has contemporary photos of 1957."

A higher resolution photograph would certainly resolve this identity crisis, and Jules Meredith informs us that he will be talking to an uncle who can perhaps provide more detail as well as a clearer image or two!

Nevertheless, I hope this gives the reader even more insight into one of the cast of fascinating characters who populated the croquet lawns, circa 1947 – 1971, along with the Mills.

You can see Creed Meredith's Wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Creed_Meredith.



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