We Remember ... Heroes of the Faith at St. Michael's - Florence Porter, Anna Burge and Sally Garnett

FLORENCE PORTER
c1853 - 5 February 1912

Florence Charlotte Anna Porter was born in Antigua, West Indies around 1853. She and her 2 friends and close neighbours Anna Maria Burge and Sally Garnett all died in 1912 and 1913 and are commemorated together in the exquisite window in the Lady Chapel. Friends and relations raised the money to buy the window which was dedicated on Lady Day 1914.

We know just a little about each of these ladies. Florence Porter lived in 26 Park Road, where Beech Court, a block of flats, now stands. She died after ‘a long and wearisome’ illness on 5 February 1912. Anna Maria Burge died suddenly on 30 March the same year, on the Eve of Palm Sunday. She had embroidered some of the altar linen for the new church. Sally Garnett lived at 15 Ellesmere Road with her daughter who presented the Parish with her mother's bath chair after her death on 5 December 1913.

It is most unusual for a memorial to be in the form of a Nativity but there is a good reason why it is so in this case. As the Vicar Leonard McNeill Shelford noted in his Parish Magazine on 31 December 1912, ‘I am glad indeed that Mrs Garnett's memory is to be preserved in St Michael’s in conjunction with that of friends and neighbours Miss Porter and Mrs Burge in the first of our stained glass windows’.

Rev Shelford’s idea was that there would be a series of windows around the church in memory of those who had died. The plan was as follows:-

Lady Chapel The Nativity
East Window The Crucifixion
North Aisle Saints and Heroes of the Early Church
North West Window Founder of the English Church
West Window The Te Deum
South West Window Various notables including John Wesley and General Gordon
South Aisle Saints and heroes of the English church

Before a second window could be started the First War had intervened and such ambitious plans were shelved, though the Te Deum was eventually built as the east window to commemorate the Armistice.