St Eadburgha’s Church and Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912)

The American artist Francis Davis Millet (Frank Millet) has connections with Broadway’s  St Eadburgha’s Church (a Grade 1 listed building dating back to Saxon times) located on the Snowshill Road, Broadway, about 3/4 mile south of the centre of the village opposite Coneygree Lane. The church is a lovely 10 minute stroll from our Cotswold holiday cottages at West End.

The present church of St Eadburgha’s dates back to Saxon times with late 12th century additions and several later additions. The church was subject to extensive repairs in 1866 and more recent repairs following severe flooding in July 2007 floods when the church was flooded by runoff from the Cotswold escarpment flowing down Coneygree Lane, across the Snowshill Road and into the church.

A few yards further along the Snowshill Road above the church is a wonderful lychgate built as a memorial to the American, Frank Millet.  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 near the village green.

Francis died in the sinking of RMS Titanic on 15th April 1912 on his way to New York from Rome having boarded the ship at Cherbourg. Millet who was travelling in 1st Class with his friend Major Archibald Willingham Butt (military aide to President William Howard Taft and President Theodore Roosevelt) 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 he is buried at East Bridgewater Central Cemetery, Massachusetts.

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 probably painted in the refectory of the 14th century Abbot’s Grange, Broadway.  Millet restored Abbot’s 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 then Russell House. It was in these Broadway gardens that Sargent painted Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose which now hangs in the Tate Gallery, London. Millet’s ink drawing  of Mr Sargent at work on Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose is owned by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC.

The tribute to Millet on the lychgate reads:


which roughly translated reads:

‘In tribute to Francis Millet a man of excellence in the Arts and Literature. He met his death with fortitude as the ship Titanic sank whilst still giving hope to those who feared for their lives. His dear friends sought the dedication of this memorial in fond memory of his treasured fellowship.’

3 thoughts on “St Eadburgha’s Church and Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912)”

  1. Pingback: Beautiful Broadway an old Cotswolds village

  2. Pingback: Alfred Parsons RA, RI, PRWS (1847-1920) - Broadway Manor Cottages

  3. I had the pleasure of meeting Frank Millet, Francis Millet’s Grandson. I toured with him, and his 3rd Wife for 5 days a few years ago. He stayed at the Lygon Arms, and was a sprightly 97 year old. He initially used an American travel Company to contact me, but eventually emailed me directly. He asked me if it was possible to visit Russell House, and Abbotts Grange whilst staying in Broadway, he said that it was where his Grandparents lived, and that he hadn’t been to Broadway since before the War!, and that he stayed with his Grandma, as his Grandpa had died in 1912…Thankfully he ended his email by stating “yes Tim, you have probably guessed it..I am 97 years old”! I said I would see what I could do re visiting those 2 properties. I was unable to tour with him on the Sunday, however Pink Harrison, my Sister in law came to my rescue she organised and took Frank to both Houses were he was most welcomed. Frank was a fount of knowledge telling me that his Grandfather’s Father was the surgeon General for the North in The American civil was, he told me that Francis as a 14 year old was unable to enlist as he was desperate to go off and help his father in his surgeries dealing with injured soldiers, however he was able to insist as a Drummer Boy, and got around the system that way. Francis also became an excellent surgeon. Frank told me that his Grandfather brought together all the literary people, and artists that you have mentioned, and his wild they were as young men, Laudanum had a lot to do with this he said! He also told me that Francis’s best friend in the States was Mark Twain, and that Mark was his Best Man when he married his Grandmother in Broadway. Frank kept in touch for several years after his visit, sending her lots of interesting information to do with Francis. Of course it was a sad day for his Grandfather went down with The Titanic. It was also quite something for a man of 97 to do a recording for the biannual Broadway Arts Festival too! On his last day with me I took him at 4.00am from the Lygon to Birmingham Airport to catch his flight to Newark. Enroute I asked who was picking him up from Newark Airport, I had ascertained that he lived a 2.5 hour drive away. His response was typical of this stalwart elderly Gentleman “I parked my car there when I flew to England, and I see no reason why I shouldn’t drive back to my home, and besides he said, I have just renewed my 7 year driving licence, and I don’t intend to leave the licencees any change, I firmly expect to still be driving when I’m 104..I may even renew my licence then. A real character. He too had been a top Surgeon. In my opinion His 3rd Wife was clearly a Gold Digger!

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