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An Evening with Stained Glass 2 - 25th July

Following his popular and successful talk about the Church’s stained glass windows in 2010, Tony Hallam returned on July 25th to continue the series and talk about a further 6 windows. Around 20 Friends and guests were present. The timing and weather were ideal, there being sufficient external natural light shining through to show the windows off to advantage.

Tony delivered a brief chronology of Church coloured window glass, explaining the symbolism and how rules & tastes have changed over the centuries – e.g. the Victorian ‘holy gloom’ has changed to clearer glass, with a brighter over-all effect.

Listening to Messiah
Listening to "Messiah" - Click on the image to enlarge

Sitting opposite the Lady Chapel window at the east end of Church, we listened to an extract from Handel’s Messiah. Tony then showed us how the Biblical words (e.g. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”) on the window before us are also in the Messiah. It is the ‘Messiah Window'.

Transfiguration Window
Transfiguration Window
Click on the image to enlarge

Moving round to the Baptistry, Tony delivered a detailed analysis of the Transfiguration Window, including features revealed by its recent cleaning & restoration (eg the ‘mystery of the missing thumb’!). We were surprised to learn that, despite the Church’s great age, this is its oldest window, it being installed as ‘recently’ as 1874. The audience marvelled that despite the window’s large size (and, accordingly, cost of installation), remarkably little is known about the individual commemorated or his family.

Turning round to our right, Tony gave a similar analysis of the Supper at Emmaus Window, this having been installed just one year later, in 1875.

We then moved across to the Holy Cross Chapel, where the window featuring Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Helen wonderfully complements the chapel’s recent beautiful refurbishment. We learnt that very recent, in-house, collaborative research has solved a long-standing mystery – the identity of the music adjacent to Saint Thomas.  It is the ‘Pange, lingua’ (‘Sing, my tongue’) – the hymn written by the saint in the 13th century for the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Supper at Emmaus
Supper at Emmaus
Click image to enlarge

St Michael fighting the 7-headed dragon
St Michael fighting the 7-headed dragon - click on the image to enlarge

Moving back towards the east end, Tony pointed out a relatively small window high up on the north wall, which tends to go unnoticed.

Binoculars help with the smaller details
Binoculars help with the smaller details!
click on the image to enlarge

This was installed in the 1950s and commemorates a local headmistress.  The window shows Mary holding the Christ child, with St Michael defeating Satan, in the shape of a 7-headed red dragon.

Ressurection window
Ressurection window
click on the image to enlarge


Finally, we moved to sit in front of the great Resurrection Window at the east end. Following its recent cleaning – part-funded by the Friends – its features are now more easily appreciated. We learnt that the previous, darker, 1841 window had been removed for ‘safe keeping’ during the 2nd World War. However, this damaged it so much that it had to be replaced by the present window. With the assistance of printed descriptive sheets, Tony took us through the individual sections of the window and then showed how these illustrated both the Ascension and the Apostles’ Creed. Appropriately, this was followed by the playing of a recording of the Church choir singing the Apostles’ Creed in the 1970s.

Tony was thanked for a fascinating and instructive talk, delivered in his usual avuncular style. We then repaired to The Saints, where we socialised over an excellent buffet supper, prepared by Gwen Hallam and Irene Moore. A marvellous end to a most enjoyable evening.

David Bardsley



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