Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Great West and East Windows of Holy Trinity, Coventry

On the night of 14th of December 1940 Conventry was bombed by the German air force. The ferocity of the bombing was well beyond what was expected and much of the centre of the city was destroyed, including most famously the cathedral. One church near the cathedral, which got of quite lightly that night, was The Holy Trinity. It didn't get away completely unscaved, it lost it's Great East and West windows. The current East and West windows date from the 1950s.

When I passed by a couple of months ago, there was a service on but you can see from the outside that there's something special about the Great West window, so I went away and had a cup of tea and something to eat and returned later. I was not wrong, the window is a cracker, it was designed by Hugh Easton and was dedicated in 1955.

This board tells you who all the personalities in the window are.

At the other end of the church, the Great East Window perhaps doesn't leap out at you in the same way that the West does. In a more traditional style, it is neither the less a superb window. I can't find an exact year of manufacture or dedication but it was sometime in the 1950s. It has come to be known as the Brides' Window since it was paid for with contributions from married couples in the 1940s and 1950s. It is by Ninian Comper. I fear I have not really done Sir Ninian's window much justice here, I only have a few decent pictures, but I have since seen some more windows by him and will make it up in a few blogs time.

You will notice that Sir Ninian and Hugh Easton both portray Christ as blond and beardless. Not what we normally see - was this requested by the church perhaps?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Gordon Webster at St Columba's in Largs

It's funny that after you see something once, it seems to be every where. Seems that windows by the stained glass artist Gordon Webster are like that. A few weeks ago I saw a number by him in Dunblane Cathedral, then I realised one of our local windows in Kirkcudbright was by him, followed by Ruthwell Parish church not all that far away. There are six windows in all, dating from between 1958 to 1968, and are characterised by his chiseled faces and blacked out eyes which I've now become quite accustomed to. 

When I went into St Columba's in Largs a month ago, he popped up again. Three windows by him, each in two panes. The interesting thing is that all three of these windows date to before the ones I've shown previously and none have blacked out eyes, though you can see his distinctive face shape appearing. They are shown here going back in time, the first is from 1955. I wonder if there's an exact cut off point somewhere between 1955 and 1978 where he stopped drawing in eyes.

This one is from 1952.

 Here's one which predates the last window by 21 years. His style is completely different here. At this point he had just been in charge his late father, Alf Webster's, stained glass business for two years and had perhaps not had a chance to develop the later style.

In the later windows he signs his name "Gordon Webster" and the date. Here he signs it "G MacW W" and the date. The middle W stands for MacWhirter

It seems a reasonable time to move away from St Columba's but staying with Mr Webster. You really don't expect to be able to buy stained glass windows of this quality for a reasonable sum, but I found this pair on Edinburgh auctioneers, Lyon and Turnbulls', website as having been sold for £2200. I couldn't work out quite when they were sold but it can't have been that long ago if they are still on the site. £2200 has to be cheap for two windows by a recognised maker. These were made around 1950.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

St Mary's in Dunblane

On the way to the cathedral in Dunblane I passed St Mary's Episcopal church. It was unlocked, which is all I need to tempt me in for a look at their windows. I'll start off with these two from the 1940s.

I could find very little information on the windows in this church except that it had stained glass by James Hogan who worked for James Powell and Sons of London. A little further investigation showed that the company's signature was a cowled monk, which appears on both the windows above. Here it is enlarged from the second one.

Above the altar was this patterned window.

At the other end of the church was another patterned window, except that this time is was just glazed in plain glass. Perhaps it had once been coloured and refilled with plain glass due to damage or it had started out this way. Quite striking in it's own way.

A much more recent window.

Also with a signature but this time with no clue for finding out who it's by. [Since writing this blog, I have been sent some information for which I am very grateful. This was made by Aurora Glass in Alloa, which was the studio owned by Emma Shipton, who I assume made this window. The words in the window, "Know thou, o stranger to the fame, of this much lov'd, much honour'd name!" are words from Burns (though sharing a surname, there is some added significance since when Sir John was a prisoner of war he carried a volume of Robert Burns in his pocket). Burns originally wrote the lines to Robert Aitken and here they subtly display only half the verse, the whole of which is more obviously an epitaph.

Know thou, O stranger to the fame
Of this much lov'd, much honour'd name!
(For none that knew him need be told)
A warmer heart death ne'er made cold.]

I nearly missed this window, just beyond the door in the side of the church. I spotted it from the outside while leaving and went inside to see what I had missed. It features a couple of lines from Psalm 126 and a delightful painted poppy in amongst some wheat.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Greyfriar's in Kirkcudbright

Only a short walk for me are these windows in Greyfriar's church in Kirkcudbright. This is the third church to stand on this point. There had been Franciscans (often known as Greyfriars because of their habit) established in the area of the town from the 12th century, though it seems nobody knows quite where, but in the late 15th century a Franciscan Convent was established and their church was on the site of the current church. It was taken over as the parish church in 1571 but by 1730 it was in a sorry state of repair and demolished except for a part reserved by the Maclennans as a burial aisle (their castle is just across the road). The new parish church was built onto the Maclennan aisle. This church only survived until 1839 when the current parish church was built elsewhere in the town and a school was built on the site, still retaining the Maclennan aisle from the original church. In 1919 the building became a church again, this time under the Scottish Episcopal Church. All the glass there today dates from after this.

Two of the windows in the church were designed by the late Isabella Findlay (died 2008) who was a member of the congregation. This one is dated 2004 (slightly obsured by the ledge but I'm fairly sure about it) and is marked "IF & SGDP 2004". I don't know who or what SGDP is. The lady who was looking after the church at the time remembers the window being put in.

This window is also by her, it's St Michael treading down the serpent. The church website says that this window is from 1961, I think this is a misprint as it quite clearly say 1951 on the window. It is also of note that the window is signed Isabella Douglas, which must have been Mrs Findlay's maiden name.

Above the altar, the early part of the church, is this window showing the Adoration of the Magi and dates from 1921. I have no information on the maker.

In the trancept is this window by Gordon Webster from 1961. it features St Cuthbert on the left, after whom the town is named and St Francis on the right, after whose order, the Franciscans or Greyfriars, the church is named. 

Above St Cuthbert is the town coat of arms which features St Cuthbert in a boat holding St Oswalds head.

This is the coat of arms of the Episcopal Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway

This part of the window shows Maclellan's Castle, which stands at the centre of the town (and the end of the street I live in) and to the right the Tolbooth - another building of note in the town (also in my street)

This is the Basilica at Assisi, which is connected to St Francis.