SOMETIMES it is easy to find and recount the life of a local luminary.

At other times, it is impossible, and then there are those in-between for whom sketchy details are available.

It is odd who is remembered and who has dropped out of sight of local knowledge.

Recently Romsey Abbey’s Open Door magazine, referred to a grand piano given to the Abbey by ‘a Mrs Milburn’.

In her day, everyone would have known who she was, and now it appears that no one does. If I am wrong, I would love to know more about her.

A William Eric Milburn was buried in Woodley Cemetery in 2001 when he was 80, and that is the only Milburn burial I have traced from local records. He may have been a relative of ‘a Mrs Milburn’. There is no mention of a Mr Milburn in the Romsey Advertiser of the early 1940s, so I assume she was by then a widow.

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The children’s ward at Romsey Hospital complete with a live parrot by the French windows in 1933 (Image: Romsey Local History Society)

Mrs E. B. Milburn played a prominent part in local affairs as a Justice of the Peace, a generous supported of Romsey Hospital and a pillar of Romsey Abbey. Incidentally what E. B. stood for is not given in anything I have consulted.

There was a Mrs J. Milburn whose address was given in 1944 as Compton Manor. Mrs E. B. Milburn lived at Harefield House in 1940 but she would have had to move out when this property was requisitioned by the R.A.F. so it would seem that there were two or more Mrs Milburns. Where Mrs E. B. went after Harefield is not apparent.

Having got the ‘I don’t knows’ out of the way, it is possible to give praise to Mrs E. B. Milburn’s contribution to the community.

She was a generous contributor to the hospital and one of the children’s wards was named Milburn Ward as a result of the money she provided in the 1930s when two new wards were added to the existing building. She regularly gave £10 per annum in cash, an amount matched only by Mr Grant Singer of Norman Court, and was a frequent donor of garden produce.

She had been appointed a Justice of the Peace before war broke out and in due course became the Chairman of the Juvenile Court. When the longstanding Clerk to the Justices, Montague Chandler, retired in 1945, she made the presentation of a cheque to him, subscribed to by the magistrates and others.

I have no photographs of her, so I have attached two that relate to the hospital.