RMS Titanic and the Broadway Connection

At 12 noon on 10th April 1912, RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton for New York. Amongst the 1st Class passengers on the ill-fated liner was Broadway resident, writer and artist Francis Davis Millet. 

Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912)

Frank Millet (Civil War soldier, painter, mural decorator, sculptor and writer) was born in Massachusetts on 3rd November 1846. He spent many years of his life painting and living in Broadway with his wife and family, firstly at Farnham House and later at Russell House on the village green. Millet had joined the ship at Cherbourg, France, and was travelling to the US with his friend Major Archibald Willingham Butt, military aide to US President William Howard Taft and President Theodore Roosevelt. Millet died in the sinking of the ship and was last seen helping women and children into the lifeboats. His body was later recovered from the sea by the crew of the cable ship MacKay Bennett and was returned to East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where he was buried in Central Cemetery.

Millet’s paintings can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Detroit Insitute of Art and the Tate Gallery, London.  Millet was the first director of the American Academy in Rome and his painting Between Two Fires,painted c1892, which hangs in the Tate, was painted in the refectory of the 14th century Abbots Grange, Broadway.  Millet restored Abbots Grange from its monastic ruins and it became a studio for the artists’ colony in Broadway he helped create. The ‘Broadway Colony’ included artists and writers such as John Singer Sargent, Alfred Parsons, Fred Barnard, Henry James, Edmund Gosse, Edwin Austin Abbey and the actress Mary Anderson (Mme de Navarro), to name just a few. Sargent spent the summers of 1885 and 1886 with the Millet family at Farnham House and Russell House. It was in these Broadway gardens that Sargent painted Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rosewhich now hangs in the Tate Gallery, London.

St Eadburgha’s and the Lychgate

At the saxon church, St Eadburgha’s, on the Snowshill Road in Broadway there is a lychgate dedicated to Frank Millet. In 1932, twenty years after the Titanic disaster, Millet’s son Jack (John Alfred Parsons Millet) sent £120 to St Eadburgha’s for the creation of the lychgate. The inscription was devised by two Harvard classics professors and reads:

‘FRANCISCO DAVIS MILLET VIRO IN ARTIBVS LITTERISQVE PRAESTANTI QVI NAVI TITANICA FRACTA DVM SPEM TIMIDIS AFFERT MORTEM LAE TVS OPPETIVIT HOC MONVMENTVM SVAVIS AMICITIAE MEMORES SODALES PONENDVM CVRAVERVNT’

the original English translation is:

‘To Francis Davis Millet – A man of outstanding attainment in literature and art who, when the ship Titanic was sunk, gladly faced death while bringing hope to those in great need. His intimate friends have had this memorial erected in memory of a dear friendship’.

St Eadburgha’s is a lovely peaceful place to visit and is open to visitors most days from 10am to 4pm. The church is about a 15 minute walk from our Cotswold holiday cottages on West End. The oldest part of the current church is from the 12th century. The nave arcades are supported on beautiful Norman columns with large diameter bases and simple scalloped capitals. The roof of the nave is crafted from lovely old timber, with a frieze along the wall-plate with small, carved faces mixed with foliage designs. Against the west wall of the south aisle is one of the newest monuments in the church, the Millenium Stone which was inserted in 1972 to celebrate 1000 years of Broadway history. The lychgate is located a little further along the Snowshill Road at the entrance to the new cemetery.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Manor Cottages