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Howard Millen

I recently had an email request regarding one of the Millen Family’s songs, for which I had no answer. It was only upon trying to find his contact details that I learned of the death of Howard Millen on 30 July 2019, aged 90. Howard was my contact when researching the Francis Collinson manuscripts, his relatives, the Batt family from the Weald of Kent, seemingly a rich source of song.

Howard sang and played the piano accordion in a besmocked troupe of singers calling themselves The Cider Sippers, which comprised his son, two of his nephews and a local farmer from the Ashford area. To me, it was proof of a parallel universe of National Farmers Union members performing at Young Farmers functions, horse ploughing events and the like, with their rare repertoire of songs, some unknown to the folk public. His brother suggested they revive some of the old family ‘glees’ (part-songs in harmony) for a BBC broadcast. I suggested that he should reform the group as The Millen Family to record these songs, which Simon Evans duly did about 20 years ago. They performed at the Kent Gathering of Traditional Music at Frittenden in 2008 and for subsequent events organised by Gavin and Julie Atkin in the area. Howard is survived by his son, Hilary.

George Frampton