The Rev Musgrave and the stained glass windows

The Rev. George Musgrave became vicar of Borden in 1838. He cared for his parishioners and was a generous benefactor of the parish church both during his time in Borden and afterwards. The Rev. Musgrave was a man of talents; a gifted writer of travel books and an accomplished artist. His books are all freely illustrated with his own attractive line drawings.

There has been uncertainty as to whether Rev. Musgrave himself designed the painted glass windows which he gave to Borden church in 1845.

According to Bagshaw's Directory of 1847, new stained glass was put into all the church windows in 1845. The replacement glass illustrated Bible stories, including Paul preaching at Athens, Peter in prison awakened by the angels and Peter beginning to sink. The windows ‘were declared by the Venerable Howley, the late Primate, to be unique, such an instance as all the windows of a church being thus painted by one individual and that individual the incumbent, not being on record.’

However, no mention of these windows exists in church records. It is known that Musgrave did replace the east and west windows with what is considered to be rather poor Victorian glass. The west window is still in situ and portrays in its three bays, the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (Luke 2: 22ff), The Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist and Philip baptising the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8: 26ff). The east window was taken out during the Second World War, put in safe storage and never replaced.

It is certain that none of the other windows could be those referred to by Bagshaw, as their history is known.
Later directories simply state that Musgrave filled the east and west windows with stained glass.
Now new evidence has come to light to solve the mystery. In a diary written by Mrs Louisa Thomas of Hollingbourne is this:

‘May 15. 1846 To pass the day at Sittingbourne on our way called at Mr Musgrave’s to ask to see the painted windows, an immense undertaking, but not so well executed.’
Mrs Thomas knew a good deal about art and painted herself. Her diary entry indicates that Musgrave had indeed designed the painted glass windows himself but his artistic talents lay rather in sketching what he saw than in drawing from the imagination. 

Helen Allinson

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