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THE CROQUET GAZETTE – Issue 331 April/May 2011


found in over two decades of tournament croquet results and prize lists from all over England.


Tose results have not told me a great deal about George himself, but they have opened my eyes to a simply amazing cast of characters from what American journalist Tom Brokaw described as “Te Greatest Generation.”


On the lawns with George and his sisters strode giants in numerous walks of life: Olympic skier and 1961 CA Women’s Championship winner Isobel Roe; World class women’s hockey great and author Joan Warwick, four-time winner of the Women’s Championship; Anglo-Catholic Christian Socialist, philosopher, philanthropist, and longtime CA president Maurice B. Reckitt; His wife, Aimee Reckitt, a women’s tennis player who played at Wimbledon and the Epsom Finals; Chaplain to George VI and Elizabeth II, New Zealand’s first badminton champion, and croquet stalwart, the Ven. Ralph Creed Meredith; Sussex entrepreneur and veteran of both World Wars, John Roland Abbey, whose collection of antiquarian volumes and illuminated manuscripts was the envy of libraries, museums, and collectors across the world; his wife, Lady Ursula Abbey, breeder and exhibitor of world class show dogs and a renowned shooter and general out-doors woman; Henry Hugh Gordon “Dacre” Stoker, a naval hero at Gallipoli, star of stage and screen (some two dozen films), and cousin of Dracula’s Bram Stoker; Sir Leonard Daldry, an executive banker and senator in the Nigerian legislature, who spent most of his career in the African nation and oversaw Nigerian independence in 1960; and Dr. William P. Ormerod, one of the all-time greats in British croquet, still ranked and competing in a career that includes membership on multiple MacRobertson Shield-winning teams for Great Britain as well a President’s Cup Championship in 1962.


Tat is by no means a comprehensive list, and I am still researching many other players from that era of croquet. Would that I could have been a proverbial fly on the walls of that period’s clubs, as these greats spoke of their games, their travels, their careers, their experiences, and how they felt about the world as it changed so dramatically from the late 19th into the latter part of the 20th century!


Te post-war croquet careers of George, Agnes, and Violet Mills encompassed the years 1947–1971 and included 32 official first place prizes, including the Luard and Gilbey Cups and the Evans Trophy. Te Mills siblings travelled from Exmouth to Buxton to Te Saffrons, playing the sport they loved with dear friends all around England.


George, a veteran of both World Wars, a schoolmaster, and an author, played his first tournament game in 1957 at the age of 61. His obituary from the April 1973 issue of the Croquet Gazette, written by Lt. Col. Gerald E. Cage of Budleigh,


AGNES MILLS AND BARBARA CHITTENDEN


includes the line: “George Mills was a late starter to croquet, but his exuberant and loveable personality made him a welcome member of the game.”


Although I have had a great deal of help from many kind folks around the internet, I may never really have the answer to my question, “Who Is George Mills?” George and his sisters all passed away childless. Tere are no sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, or grandchildren to remember George—or any of them. Te Mills, despite George’s now out-of-print books, have been largely forgotten.


Short of finding someone who knew the Mills siblings well, the best way for me to “get to know” George and his sisters has been by entering their world vicariously and trying to see things they must have seen, visit the places they went, and meet some of the people the Mills surely met. It has been a trip through time and, living here in Florida, across an ocean.


Te croquet clubs of the era provided George Mills with fertile ground for conversation, for reminiscences, for sharing


interesting experiences and rekindling memories,


and for putting his own life and his nation’s recent history into perspective. It was done with family and friends on lawns across England. I wish I had been there.


I truly wish I had known George Mills.


Lastly, anyone wishing to know more about Sam’s sleuthing can look at my website www.whoisgeorgemills.com, although accessing items specifically dealing with croquet is easier when using the address: http://www.whoisgeorgemills.com/search/ label/croquet.


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