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4a. East End: Window

4. East End

The East End window illustrates the “Te Deum’’, the Canticle sung in Morning Prayer. It was given in 1876 by Lady Adelaide Law, wife of Frederick Law the rector. She was the daughter of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry and the window is in memory of her parents, brothers and sister.

Although designed and executed by the Victorian firm of Clayton and Bell, by the time that this church was being decorated it is unlikely that Mr Clayton and Mr Bell were personally involved. However, they had extensive workshops and pattern books from which their skilled workforce drew their inspiration. Mr Clayton was responsible for the general design, the people and especially the faces and Mr Bell was the landscape, colour and architectural expert.

As you look at the window, the figures represented are as follows:

 

Alpha

Cherubim

Omega

 

Sun

Cherubim

 

 

Christ in glory

Cherubim

Moon

Seraphim

Archangel Gabriel

 

Archangel Raphael

Seraphim

Moses

David

St Peter

St John the Evangelist

Archangel Michael

Crusader

Edward the Confessor

Venerable Bede St Margaret of Scotland

St John the Baptist

Elijah

St Paul

St Matthew

St Margaret of Antioch

St George

St Alban

St Augustine

St Gregory

The overall theme of the window is Christ in glory and Our Lord is shown seated, with the orb in his left hand and raising his right hand in blessing.

Christ is surrounded by Cherubim. The two above have musical instruments, a lyre and cymbals and are part of the celestial orchestra; and those to the sides are part of the "hosts of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left" (1 Kings 22:19).

The extent of his dominion is represented by the two Greek letters Alpha and Omega-the beginning and the end signified traditionally by means of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet; and the Sun and the Moon.

At the top of the two side-window panels are two, six winged Seraphim (red representing love and blue representing wisdom), holding crowns.

On either side of the Christ figure are two Archangels. Since medieval times, these thought to be the senior group of angels who interact with humans.

On the left is the Archangel Gabriel carrying his lily, representing purity. This image is reflected in the wall painting on the south wall of the Annunciation, where lilies behind Gabriel and in the background allude to Mary's purity.

On the right of the window is the Archangel Raphael holding a fish which alludes to the story of Tobias which is recounted in the Book of Tobit, in the Old Testament Apocrypha.

When Tobit was blind and dying he sent his son, Tobias, to Media to retrieve some money lent to a distant relative and told him to take a companion for the journey, as well as his little dog. He chose a young man named Raphael, unaware that he was an archangel.

On the way they stopped to bathe in the Tigris when a fish attacked Tobias. It was caught and Raphael told Tobias to gut it and keep the heart, liver and gall. When they had retrieved the money, they went on to another relative who had a daughter who was hounded by demons and every time that she got married (so far 7 times) the devil came on the first night and the bridegroom never survived. Raphael told Tobias to marry her and to burn the heart and liver of the fish on the first night. This they did and all was well.

The gall was carried back to Tobit as it was a cure for blindness. When it had been applied and Tobit could see again, Raphael disclosed his identity.

The Archangel Raphael's name means “God Heals. He is seen as the ideal "Guardian Spirit", and especially the protector of the young, and of all travellers. He is usually portrayed with wings but in the guise of a traveller with a staff in his hand. He also sometimes carries a little gold box in which the gall was kept (possibly on top of the staff in our picture). In many pictures Tobias has his little dog with him, but not here. The two were often included in early Christian paintings when there was a big landscape in the background they can be found hurrying through it.

The reason for including them in our Church window would seem to be that Raphael is seen as supporting the congregation in their journey through life whilst Tobias reminds them of the need for faith.

Below Christ is the Archangel Michael, the Commander in chief of "the armies of the Lord; the saint protector of the "Church Militant". Michael is often portrayed in a version of Roman uniform complete with spear and sword and is standing on, or fighting with, a dragon which is representing the Devil or Satan. Michael has wings which distinguishes him from St George who is often portrayed with a dragon.

Michael is holding the scales of justice with which he weighs the souls of the recently deceased who will be going either to Heaven or to Hell. Because of his funerary duties, he is often regarded as the angel who will awaken the dead with his trumpet and so may be shown with a trumpet.

Below St Michael is St Margaret of Antioch, also often shown with a dragon as she is here. She was an early Christian martyr from Antioch in Syria and is referred to in the Greek Church as St Marina. There is a gold reliquary purporting to contain her hand in the Museo Correr in Venice. The reliquary is thought to have originated from Constantinople in 1213. It was in an exhibition in the British Museum in the summer of 2011.

She was said to have been daughter of a pagan priest and was employed as a shepherdess. The Roman prefect of the town was attracted by her beauty but she refused to marry him declaring that she was a Christian virgin - so she was imprisoned and tortured. During the night Satan came to her in the form of a dragon which devoured her, however she was holding a crucifix in her hand and the dragon burst open. She is often shown either standing on the dragon (here) or with it on a chain or girdle as in the big picture in the Lady Chapel. Margaret was eventually beheaded and is often shown carrying a martyr's palm and a cross.

Due to her escape from inside the dragon she is the Patron Saint of Childbirth and as such was very popular throughout the ages when childbirth was a dangerous event. She was a favourite Saint to whom to dedicate a church in the days when our first St Margaret's Church was first built.

The lower two rows of paired figures denote the four groups who join in the worship of God. Reading from the left, two above and then two below.

The goodly fellowship of the Prophets

Moses- a major Old Testament figure. The book of Exodus tells us how he led his people, the Israelites, out of Egyptian captivity, through the Red Sea and on to wander for 40 years in the desert. During this time he received the Ten Commandments from God. Here he is shown as an elderly man with two shafts of light radiating from either side of his head “for the skin of his face shone" when he received the word of God. Sometimes these are shown as horns due to a misinterpretation from Hebrew into Latin. Moses is carrying the tablets of stone of which the Ten Commandments are written.

David- originally a shepherd boy who often played his lyre before King Saul, David later became the King of Israel. He continued to play a stringed instrument until old age, together with writing poetry. He is considered to have written many of the psalms.

St John the Baptist- Jesus's cousin and forerunner. He preached of Jesus's ministry and baptised those who believed his words in the river Jordan. His baptism of Christ is often considered the start of Jesus's ministry.

John was finally beheaded by Herod at the request of Salome after her famous dance had so pleased her father that she was offered whatever she wanted. At her mother's suggestion she asked for John's head on a platter.

Here he is carrying a dish showing a lamb and referring to John's exclamation when he saw Jesus coming to be baptised "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."(John 1:29).

Elijah-was an Old Testament prophet from the 9th century BC. During a drought God sent Elijah to live by the brook of Cherith where he was fed by ravens morning and night. He holds a raven in his hand. He is credited with being an early inspiration of the Carmelite order so his habit may be a reflection of a monastic habit.

"The glorious company of the apostles"

St Peter- St Peter is usually shown with keys" I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 16:19). He was a leader of the Apostles and became the first Bishop of Rome.

He is often portrayed as an old but vigorous man, with short, grey, curly hair, either balding or tonsured, and a short curly beard with broad rustic features. He commonly wears a yellow or gold cloak over a blue or green tunic.

St John the Evangelist- John "the apostle whom Jesus loved", wrote the fourth Gospel and is believed to have written the Book of Revelation.

He is holding a chalice which contains a small green dragon or snake. The priest of the temple of Diana in Ephesus tried to test John's faith by making him drink from a poisoned chalice which had already killed two condemned men. John drank but his prayer turned the poison into a dragon.

St Paul - Paul, originally called Saul, was Jewish by race and a Pharisee but he was also a Roman citizen. He started by being very antagonistic towards Christians but one day, as he rode to Damascus he was converted by a vision of our Lord.

St Paul is often shown beside St Peter though here he is below. This is because they are considered the joint founders of the Christian Church, with Peter symbolising the Jewish element and Paul the gentile.

Paul is often shown as an older man with a high forehead and a bushy beard. He carries his sword as the attribute both of his execution and as a reminder of his role as a persecutor of Christians, and also the Book of the Epistles, which he wrote whilst in prison in Rome.

St Matthew - Matthew had been a tax gatherer until Jesus saw him at his table and commanded him to "follow me". He is seen holding his gospel and also his wallet to remind us of his previous work.

"The noble army of martyrs

Knight/Crusader in Armour- who is holding a sword and a banner- white with seven black stars. Despite some research, we have been unable to discover the meaning of this heraldic symbolism and if you have a suggestion, we should love to know.

King Edward the Confessor- King of England from 1042 to 1066. A confessor is someone who suffered for their faith, demonstrated sanctity but was not martyred. He has a saintly halo behind his crown. On his arm he has a bird and there is a legend that he once told the nightingales to stop singing as they interfered with his sleep or study. Following on from this legend, Richard II bestowed a posthumous coat of arms on Edward comprised of five gold martlets (heraldic birds like a swallow round a gold splayed cross, which Richard incorporated in his own arms. Edward’s window in the north wall shows him holding a staff with a martlet on top and his coat of arms is included. Edward is here shown wearing a bishop's gloves although there is no evidence that he was ever a bishop.

St George - He is said to have been a soldier and to have been martyred in the 3rd or 4th century. This was too early for him to have been a Crusader but he was adopted by the Crusaders as a hero and role model who helped the symbol of their cause as "Knights of Christ".

When he went to Libya he found that a dragon was terrorising a large area and had to be fed a youth or maiden each day. When George arrived it had become the turn of the King's daughter. Horrified, he mounted his horse and, carrying the banner of Christ, he attacked and subdued the beast. Either he killed it or put the maiden's girdle around its neck so it followed her back to the city. Whereupon the King and all his subjects were baptised into Christianity and another story was created which depicted Christ defeating evil as personified by a dragon.

George is holding a spear and shield which is decorated with a red cross on a white background. This was an early symbol of the Resurrection and became the Crusader's banner. St George's legend was an inspiration to the Crusaders and many of them took his story and attributes back to their homelands. He became the Patron Saint of many countries including England, Portugal and Turkey.

St Alban- as the first British Christian Martyr is depicted holding the sword of his martyrdom. He was a Roman soldier possibly a Centurion living in Verulamium, (St Albans). Although he was a pagan he sheltered a Christian priest who converted and baptised him. Then, when soldiers arrived to capture and execute the priest, St Alban exchanged clothes with him. Alban was duly tried for being a Christian, taken out of the town and martyred. St Alban's Abbey was founded on the site.

"And the Holy Church throughout the world"

The Venerable Bede-was born 672 and died 735. He was a monk in the Northumbrian Monastery of St Peter at Monkwearmouth. Bede was a scholar, a linguist who could translate Christian works from the Latin and the Greek, and an author of "The Life of St Cuthbert", plus writing historical, religious and grammatical books. He is seen as the "Father of English History" on account of his "History of the English Church and People”.

St Margaret of Scotland -was an English princess, born in Hungary, daughter of Edgar Aetheling. The family returned to England in 1057 but when William the Conqueror arrived they fled to Northumberland, then Scotland. Margaret married King Malcolm of Scotland and three of her sons became Kings of Scotland. She was a very pious lady who undertook much charitable work amongst the poor. She also set up the Dunfermline ferry service for the benefit of her subjects. She died in 1093 just after receiving the news that her husband and eldest son had been killed in battle.

St Augustine of Hippo - was born in Algiers, educated in Carthage and then went on to Hippo where he was converted to Christianity by the bishop. He remained in Hippo and became bishop himself. He is often shown wearing the black habit of the Augustinian order under his Bishop's cope. On our window he wears his mitre and in his gloved hand he is carrying his crosier (Cross) on which is a banner of Christ's Crucifixion. He is one of the four Latin Fathers of the Church.

St Gregory the Great- was the son of a Roman senator and the grandson of a Pope. He spent much of his wealth in establishing Benedictine monasteries and helping to relieve poverty. Made Pope in 590, he was a prolific writer and noted theologian, Inspired the Gregorian Chants, and developed the concept of Purgatory where the souls wait until their sins are expiated. Note the white dove on his crosier, which was seen by his secretary hovering by his left ear, and was thought to be the Holy Spirit inspiring his writings.

He sent a mission to England to spread Christianity. This was headed by St Augustine of Canterbury who has his own window on the north wall. St Gregory is reported to have observed a group of fair-haired children in the slave market and said that they were "Not Angles but Angels".