Sir Hubert Miller, the Lord of the Manor of Froyle, brought the vestments to Froyle from Italy.
The story below, written by Caroline Bush in August 2004 tells of his commitment to them.
Sir Hubert Miller (pictured right in the garden of “The Shrubbery” around 1900) spent part of the year in his villa in Venice. He had already installed a new organ in St Mary’s in 1903, and it is possible to infer that he wished to enhance the celebration of services there, not only musically but visually also, bringing as it were, an echo of Venetian beauty and splendour to his other existence in Hampshire by endowing this church with its magnificent collection of vestments.
My mother, who came to Froyle in 1934 with her mother and sisters, remembered that he had, some time before, built St Katherine’s Cottage in Upper Froyle to house the Sacristan for the church, a Miss Ralfe. So by then Sir Hubert considered there was enough work laying out and maintaining the vestments to justify a full-time Sacristan (The main duty of the Sacristan was the handling and laying out of the vestments for the priest). This is also borne out by my mother’s memory of High Mass being celebrated on the first Sunday of each month, and on important festivals, complete with priest, deacon and sub-deacon, when the cloth of gold garnet set, consisting of chasuble and two dalmatics, would have been worn.
The vestments have always been much appreciated by the inhabitants of Froyle and also by many of the the parish priests. One, William V Tunks (priest 1943-58) greatly admired the cloth of silver Corpus Christi chasuble, which he kept permanently on a convenient hanger and wore whenever possible. Other priests have found the weight of some of the vestments difficult and one or two have professed a mild unease of the ‘Roman shapes’ of certain chasubles, hardly sentiments allowable in a church whose dedication had escaped the Reformation.
Sir Hubert’s stays in Venice were recorded in the diaries of members of the English ‘colony’ who were there at the time. You can read about this further on the Sir Hubert in Venice page.