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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: December ::
John Milton Quadricentenary Window Project
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2333  Thursday, 14 December 2000

From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Dec 2000 21:51:50 -0500
Subject:        John Milton Quadricentenary Window Project

John Milton Quadricentenary Window Project

With the gracious support of The University Of Southern Mississippi
Foundation, the John Milton Quadricentenary Window Project Committee is
pleased to announce the formal inception of the John Milton
Quadricentenary Window Project, which will provide for the installation
of a commemorative stained glass window at the site of Milton's burial,
in the parish church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, The Barbican, London
EC2, England, in honor of his four hundredth birthday on December 9,
2008.

As it is currently envisioned, the Milton Window will be designed by
stained glass artist John Lawson, and manufactured by Goddard and Gibbs
Studios of London, which also created the Alleyn Window on the opposite
side of the church.

It will feature floral images on the outer panels adapted from
watercolors lovingly done by Jane Elizabeth Giraud in June of 1846, to
illustrate the many species of flora mentioned in Milton's poetry. These
will border an appropriate selection of verse from Paradise Lost in the
central panel, and there will be a thornless rose at the window's crown.
Although the design is only in the "drawing board" stage at this
writing, plans are underway for a sealed box to be embedded in or
mounted beneath the window frame, containing a parchment listing the
names of all contributors, regardless of the amount of the individual's
donation.

Given that Milton's remains spent the better part of 116 years without
so much as a marker to record the place of his burial, this tribute is
long overdue: the first monument to England's greatest epic poet was not
installed at St. Giles, Cripplegate until 1793, after a scandal
involving the possible desecration of his grave. The only other memorial
to him in all of London at that time was the Benson/Rysbrack bust at
Westminster-which was haughtily rejected when it was originally proposed
as a "disgrace" to the Abbey's hallowed walls--and there are not many
more, even today. At the present time, the site of the poet's birth and
his Bunhill Row home and the locations of the many houses he occupied in
the vicinity of the Square Mile during his lifetime are
unremarked-though there is Corporation of London blue plaque on the
house at 4 Cheyne Walk to remind passersby that this is the place where
George Eliot died, and another a few blocks away identifying the house
in which Oscar Wilde lived. Shakespeare, of course, is lavishly
memorialized throughout England, and in London, and Donne and Johnson
and Dickens are well represented, too. Not so John Milton, and not so
for far too long.

You can help us demonstrate the commitment of Miltonists the world over
to doing what we can not to "willingly let it die" by creating a lasting
affirmation of our love and respect for the rich legacy Milton left us,
and undo some of the devastation wreaked by Hitler's bombs on the little
church that has stood in its present location since the reign of William
the Conqueror as well. All donors will receive an acknowledgment letter
signed by all of the members of the Committee, and they will also be
invited to participate in a formal unveiling ceremony at St. Giles,
Cripplegate church on or about December 9, 2008, followed by a formal
reception.

That may seem a long way off, but given the time it will take to
establish sufficient funds to justify a contractual commitment with
Goddard & Gibbs, obtain the required approvals for construction from the
parish and the Crown, establish a contract with the manufacturer, and
complete the installation, it's critical that we establish a financial
base as soon as possible. Please look for the Milton Quadricentenary
Window Project display at the Milton Society of America dinner in
Washington, D.C. at the end of this month, and contribute whatever you
can afford. Pre-printed postage-free envelopes will be available for
that purpose.

If you wish, you may also mail a contribution to the attention of Ms.
Janice K. Delancey, Assistant Director of Business Services, at the
following address:

USM Foundation (Fund 93A)
The University of Southern Mississippi
Box 10026
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

Make your check payable to "USM Foundation," and note "Fund 93A, Milton
Window" on the memo line. While the Foundation is not yet equipped to
process VISA or Mastercard transactions electronically, they will be
pleased to do so by telephone. You can reach USM at (601) 266-5602, or
fax (601) 266-5735 for this purpose.

Should your response be as enthusiastic as we hope, the Milton
Quadricentenary Window Project Committee has pledged to utilize any
excess funds that may remain when the cost of the Project is paid in
full to promote, sustain, and otherwise support such related projects as
the Milton Cottage Trust; the Milton Society of America; the placement
of blue plaques at the sites of Milton's Bread Street, Bunhill Row, and
Westminster residences; and the Church at St. Giles, Cripplegate, in the
latter case to ensure that the Window is properly maintained and
preserved by the donees.  Our formal charter is available for donor
inspection on demand at USM.

The history of the Church and additional details about this Project and
its origins may be viewed at http://www.stgilescripplegate.com/, along
with photographs of the Window site and Milton's gravestone-and an
interesting piece of little-known Miltonic history.

The committee members, Carol Barton, Philip Birger, Albert C. Labriola,
Jameela Lares, John T. Shawcross, and John M. Steadman, thank you for
your generosity, and wish you the best and brightest of Happy Holidays!
 

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