Earlier this year I read ‘The Huntingfield Paintress’ by Pamela Holmes following reading a review in Country Life magazine.
Since very little is known about the family it’s a totally fictional account of the imagined life and real work of Mildred Holland the wife (and cousin) of the vicar of Huntingfield. It’s described here on the publisher’s website :
“Plucky and headstrong Mildred Holland revelled in the eight years she and her husband, the vicar William Holland, spent travelling 1840s Europe, finding inspiration in recording beautiful artistic treasures and collecting exotic artefacts. But William’s new posting in a tiny Suffolk village is a world apart and Mildred finds a life of tea and sympathy dull and stifling in comparison.
When a longed-for baby does not arrive, she sinks into despondency and despair. What options exist for a clever, creative woman in such a cosseted environment? A sudden chance encounter fires Mildred’s creative imagination and she embarks on a herculean task that demands courage and passion. Defying her loving but exasperated husband, and mistrustful locals who suspect her of supernatural powers, Mildred rediscovers her passion and lives again through her dreams of beauty…..
Inspired by the true story of the real Mildred Holland and the parish church of Huntingfield in Suffolk, “The Huntingfield Paintress” is unique, emotive and beautifully crafted, just like the history that inspired it.”
Yesterday I took the opportunity to visit St Mary’s church at Huntingfield to view the painted ceiling and carvings for myself.
Other treasures in the church include stone fragments from a 10th century Saxon coffin and cross found by a ploughman in a nearby field.
Bench end figures and carved symbols representing the four evangelists
When Mildred Holland died in 1878 her husband gave the font cover in her memory