Linton in Pictures
A History of Linton
in Photographs
Available here
THE MILLICENT MEMORIAL IN LINTON CHURCH

Hidden behind the massive organ in the Millicent Chapel is an exquisite Monument dedicated to Squire John Millicent’s parents and grandmother. Fresh from his triumph over the vindictive Lone family the Squire was determined to consolidate his victory by means of a beautiful monumental structure which would remind future congregations of the importance of the Millicent family in Linton affairs.


John and Alice Millicent - Main Panel of the Millicent Memorial

We do not know the precise year of its construction but it is most likely to have been completed after the marriage of the Squire to Dorothy Wright in 1705. John Millicent had been a traditional country landowner with a greater interest in horses, hunting , gambling and drinking than in marriage and the provision of a male heir. The death of his strong willed mother Alice in 1699, taken together with the recent bitter struggle for local dominance with the Lones, must have persuaded him that he needed to safeguard the family name and consolidate his influence in the village.

John was 48 years old in 1705 and his bride, Elizabeth 35 years of age. She was John’s cousin and came from North Runcton where her father, Charles Wright was the Rector. He was a prominent Trinity College scholar and held the post of Professor of Arabic in the University.

The Millicent Memorial was probably so magnificent because the Squire wanted to build a structure which would dwarf the existing Flack and Lone Monuments which were then fixed to the walls of the Chancel, close to the Millicent Chapel. The photographs give you an idea of the size of the figures and the words of the latin inscriptions. John and Elizabeth decided to praise the dedication and loyalty of the two previous generations and only provided a small inscribed plaque to commemorate the founder of the Millicent family fortunes.

At the top right hand side is the full sized bust of a well dressed woman, John’s grandmother Duglas Wright, the wife of his grandfather Robert Millicent. Robert died in 1631 and left his wife and 8 year old son John (father of Squire John) with huge debts totalling over £1600. The total income of the Estate at that time was under £200 per annum.

Duglas, who was only 31 years of age, was likely to re-marry and then the Estate would almost certainly have be broken up or sold. Instead, she sacrificed her own future to the preservation of the Millicent lands so that her young son would inherit his birthright. She negotiated a long term low interest loan to pay off the debts and deliberately chose to remain a widow until her death in 1655.

When young John joined King Charles 1st at Oxford in 1642 his mother administered the Estate in his absence. On his surrender to the Parliamentary army in 1646, John’s fine of £162 “as a Royalist delinquent” was paid by his mother Duglas since his sole income was reported to the Parliamentary Commission as being a paltry £6 a year. Duglas then negotiated a marriage alliance with the wealthy Chester family of Chicheley in Buckinghamshire. John married Alice Chester in June 1647 and received a £1,000 marriage settlement which finally resolved the monetary problems of the Estate. The Monument was a tribute to his grandmother’s sacrifice.

Beneath Duglas are two full sized figures with their hands meeting on a large skull, her son John and his wife Alice Chester. Hour glasses hang by their sides. John was regarded as a Civil War hero and went on to play a prominent role in Restoration politics. He was a local J.P. and became the dominant social and political figure in Linton for almost forty years until his death in 1686.

The Millicent family were pre-eminent during this period because the Linton Manorial lords, the Paris family, were Roman Catholic recusants and resided in Norfolk. John and Alice Millicent produced eleven children and the six girls and five boys are shown in shallow relief beneath their parents. John is praised in the latin inscription as a good husband, a fair and impartial administrator of justice and an excellent leader. There is a reference to their ninth child , William who showed great promise but died young. All the children save for John Millicent junior (1657 to 1716) died before their father’s death in 1686. Squire John revered his parents and grandmother and this explains why he ordered such a large Memorial to be built.

At the bottom of the Monument is a coat of arms and a small plaque with an inscription “under cold marble are buried here the bones of John Millicent gent and his wife Elizabeth (Gulle).” This John was the founder of the Millicent family fortune and he built the Millicent Chapel shortly before his death in 1577. He had served Thomas Cromwell during the dissolution of the monasteries and acted as a government spy at the time of the Pilgrimage of Grace. Some of his ill-gotten gains were used to purchase Barham Priory in 1551 and to construct a substantial mansion at Barham, which Queen Elizabeth 1st visited on her Progress in 1578.

Squire John probably left the original small plaque intact and constructed his magnificent Memorial above it.

In 1890 the Rev. John Longe proposed that the Memorial be removed to a new position between the two windows in the North aisle since the new organ (1878) blocked out “the large and magnificent mural monument raised to the Millicent family.“ I look forward to its re-emergence once the present organ is deemed to be no longer fit for service.