The Stained Glass

St. Andrew's has an interesting collection of Victorian stained glass which clearly shows the evolution of style during the 19th c.

The earliest window is the West Window, which was made by James Powell & Sons. This firm, situated on the site of the former Whitefriars monastery, between the Thames and Fleet Street, was producing mainly flint glass when it was bought in 1834 by James Powell, a London wine merchant. On his death the firm passed to his three sons Arthur, Nathaniel and James Cotton Powell, who in 1844 established a stained glass department. The latter benefited from the scientific researches of Charles Winston, a lawyer by profession, who had dedicated himself to the study of medieval stained glass. It had made him aware of the shortcomings of the glass available to artists at the time, this being often thin and garish in colour. In 1847 he encouraged experiments aimed at rediscovering the chemical components of medieval glass and persuaded the firm of James Powell & Sons to produce glass to his recipes. It was mainly due to this collaboration that the firm was to become one of the most important studios and glass manufacturers of the Victorian period.

Benjamin Ferrey is one of the early Gothic revivalist architects who appear in Powells' archives in the 1840s. It is no doubt upon his recommendation that Thomas Alcock ordered on 27th February 1851 a 'three-light window and tracery for the west end of church with No 1 Norbury patterned blue line in geometrical forms and stains, three-flower York border on red background'. The cost of the order was £26 12s.

The first window on the south wall of the chancel dates from the late 1850s and was executed as a private commission by Henry Hughes (a partner of Ward & Hughes). The scene on the left shows the Raising of Lazarus and on the right the Presentation in the Temple. Simeon is seen holding Jesus in his arms. The opening words of the ‘Nunc Dimittis’ appear at the bottom of the light. The window is dedicated to the memory of Lieut. Col. Thomas Alcock, the uncle of the founder, and his coat of arms appears in the quatrefoil at the top of the tracery (the same coat of arms can be seen at the bottom of the memorial to Lieut. Col. Alcock on the opposite wall).

The middle window on the south wall of the chancel is attributed to the firm of A. & W.H. O'Connor because of stylistic similarities with the East Window. It dates from c.1864-67 and represents on the left Jesus the Good Shepherd and on the right the Appearance of the Angels to the Women at the Tomb. The quatrefoil at the top contains an Agnus Dei with Banner of Victory.

Next in chronological order comes that great showpiece of mid-Victorian stained glass making, the East Window. A major artistic influence on the stained glass of that period was the work of the Pre-Raphaelites such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown, who not only produced stained glass themselves, but inspired many of the artists working in other studios. The Pre-Raphaelite influence is particularly noticeable in the St. Andrew's East Window in scenes such as the Crucifixion and the Deposition, which combine dramatic composition with particularly fine painting. Some of the female faces and their flowing loose hair, even Christ's auburn locks, could all come straight out of a Millais or Rossetti painting.  On the other hand the ample use of naturalistic flowers and foliage go back to the ‘millefleurs’ backgrounds of medieval tapestries, which were being re-discovered at around that time.

The palette of vibrant colours, the cobalt greens, the umbers, the violets, even the reds and blues are very typical of this high-Victorian period and would, by the 1870s, have been considered as garish.

Michael O'Connor was horn in Dublin in 1801. He came to London, where he was a pupil of Willement. From 1842-45 he worked in Bristol. He then returned to London and set up his own workshop in 1848. In 1851 he was joined by his son Arthur and in 1860 by his other son William Henry. Michael O'Connor died in 1867. When Arthur died in 1873, William Henry took George Taylor into partnership.

The firm ultimately became Taylor & Clifton in 1880 and closed early in the 20th century. At the time when the East Window for St. Andrew's was produced in 1866-67, the firm would have been trading as A. & W.H. O'Connor.

The curvilinear tracery in mid- 14th c. style is again an almost exact replica of that found at Shottesbrooke.

The top quatrefoil contains a dove symbolising the Holy Spirit, with a three-rayed nimbus representing the Trinity. Underneath two angels mirroring each other hold a banner in two parts which reads: 'AND THEY WERE ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST' (Acts 2.4). The next tracery lights represent the twelve Apostles with Pentecostal tongues of fire on their foreheads to show that they have been filled with the Holy Spirit. They are seated singly or in pairs and they carry attributes by which they can he identified. So, for example, St. Andrew is easily recognisable with his saltire cross and, facing him, is St. Peter holding a key.

The scenes represented in the five main lights, from left to right and starting at the top of each light are:

Christ calling the two fishermen disciples Peter and Andrew

Teaching the multitude

The Raising of Lazarus


Group of six disciples turned towards the Risen Christ

The Garden of Gethsemane: note the heads of the 3 sleeping disciples at the bottom right

The Risen Christ


The Crucifixion

Both these are contained in mandorlas of white passion flowers and green foliage. The surrounding vine is an allusion to St.John’s Gospel, Ch. 15, in which Jesus refers to himself as ‘the true vine’ and to his disciples as its branches


Five disciples turned towards the Risen Christ

The Deposition


The Good Shepherd

Doubting Thomas

The women meet the angels at the Tomb


The East Window is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Alcock, the founder of the church, who died on 22nd August 1866.

The last of the Victorian windows, the third window in the chancel next to the altar, is of a much later date and illustrates further stylistic developments. Its creator was Herbert William Bryans (1856-1925). The son of a vicar, he first went to India for some ten years to work as a tea grower. On his way back, he bought a vineyard in France and spent another two years making wine. When he finally returned to England he decided to become a stained glass artist. From about 1889 he worked for C.E. Kempe, who was profoundly to influence his style. Kempe's main source of inspiration was 15th c. stained glass. His work was characterised by his use of blue green and ruby glass and large areas of silver staining combined with the delicate and detailed painting of the figures. Bryans was to adopt a very similar technique himself and his work is often indistinguishable from that of his master. He left Kempe in March 1897 to set up his own studio in London. His chief designer from 1902 to about 1923 was Ernest Heasman. In that same year, Bryans was joined by his son James, who went on to work for the studio for several years. 

Gone have the vivid colours used by earlier Victorian stained glass artists. By the time this window was made, the palette had become much more sombre. In this 'Adoration of the Shepherds', Bryans remains completely faithful to his master's style, so much so that this window was thought for a long time to be by Kempe. A proper attribution could finally be made when Bryans's logo of a running dog was spotted recently on the scroll held by the last angel on the right. The painting of the faces is particularly fine and is probably at its best in the representation of the Virgin and Child. As a homage to his master, Bryans even inserted two peacock feathers, arguably Kempe's most recognisable trademark, into the hat of one of the shepherds.

The next series of windows, situated in the nave take us right up to the middle of the 20th c. Commissioned to mark the Centenary of St. Andrew's, they are the work of Francis Stephens. Francis William Stephens (1921-2002) studied at the Royal College of Art and after the war he decided to specialise in stained glass. In 1950 he became chief designer and managing director of the firm Faith Craft, which produced ecclesiastical work of high quality. An artist of deep religious faith and of High Anglican persuasion, he came on the scene at a time when not only many churches had been damaged or destroyed in the Second World War, but also when the Church of England was going through a period of deep liturgical renewal. He worked for 18 years for Faith Craft, which had been set up in 1921 by the stained glass artist Wilfred Lawson and had its showroom in Tufton Street, near Westminster Abbey. In mid-life, however, Stephens decided to train for the priesthood and he was ordained in 1971. During his ministry at St. Mary's, Primrose Hill, from where he retired in 1992, he carried on his creative work, especially as a stained glass artist. He left a large body of work throughout the country, and to a lesser extent abroad.

A series of windows, with the theme of martyrs and missionaries of the Church of England, were commissioned from Francis Stephens in 1952 to mark the centenary of St. Andrew's.

The first window on the north wall of the nave was dedicated on 31st January 1954 and represents on the left King Charles 1, who was included as a Martyr in the English Prayer Book from 1662-1859, and on the right Bishop Thomas Ken (1637-1711). He was one of six bishops who, together with the archbishop of Canterbury, were committed to the Tower for protesting against James II's Declaration of Indulgence.  Although Bishop Ken was acquitted and did not suffer martyrdom he made a courageous stand to defend his church and may therefore be termed a confessor. 

The second window on the north wall was dedicated on 4th December 1955 and features on the left George Keith. He was born in 1638 and was educated at Aberdeen University. He became a Quaker and went to Pennsylvania, but then joined the Church of England and was ordained priest in 1700 in London. In 1702 he was sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel as its first missionary to New England, where he died in 1716. The right-hand side light represents Allen Francis Gardiner, Captain R.N. He worked in South Africa, but is chiefly remembered for his missionary activities in South America. Amidst local hostility and without adequate support he and his party lost their lives in Terra del Fuego in 1851, having founded the South American Missionary Society.

The window on the opposite south wall, dedicated on 15th May 1955, shows on the left John Coleridge Patteson, born in London on 1st April 1827. From 1855 he spent 16 years as a missionary in the New Hebrides, Banks, Solomon and Loyalty Islands. In 1861 he was consecrated first Bishop of Melanesia. He was killed by natives of the Santa Cruz Islands on 20th September 1871. The subject of Florence Nightingale for the other half of this window seems at first to be out of keeping with the theme of the series, but it was expressly chosen by parishioners to commemorate the death of Stephanie Dunn, the daughter of the Rev. Alexander Dunn, Vicar of Kingswood from 1931-1947. Florence Nightingale had, among others, founded a nursing school at St Thomas's Hospital, where Stephanie Dunn was killed with some fellow nurses during a bombing raid at the height of the 'Blitz' in September 1940.

The last in this series of windows is situated on the south wall, by the font. It was dedicated on 24th February 1957 and depicts on the left the Boy Martyrs of Uganda, who, rather than deny their Lord, chose to die by fire in 1885. The right-hand side light depicts Vivian Redlich, a missionary priest in New Guinea, who stayed with his people during the Japanese invasion in 1942. He is seen celebrating his last Eucharist in the bush before his martyrdom.

A more recent addition is the window on the east wall of the south transept. It is the work of the artist Sherif Amin and was dedicated on 7th February 1999. Sherif Amin studied at the Chelsea School of Art and the Architectural Association. He free-lanced for a number of reputable interior design firms before deciding to specialize in stained glass making. He trained in Spain with stained glass artist Rudy Bellemans. His commissions have included both secular and ecclesiastical work.

The meaning of this window may be interpreted in a number of ways. For the artist, the figure at the top with outstretched arms represents Rosemary Latimer, who commissioned the window in memory of her husband. The three smaller figures resembling angels are her children and the main figure in the window is Donald Latimer pursuing his favourite hobby, D.l.Y. The sun, according to Sherif Amin, represents energy, as well as a light of hope and warmth in the form of kindness and the comfort one derives from it. To the Christian, the design incorporates the themes of light (Christ the Light of the World) and work (Christ the Worker).

The most recent window, the South Window, was donated by a parishioner, Peter Temperton, in memory of his wife Hazel and was executed by the studios of Goddard & Gibbs. This internationally renowned firm, which had been established in the East End of London since 1868, has now sadly ceased trading. John Lawson, who designed this window, was senior artist at Goddard & Gibbs from 1970 until his retirement in 1996. He was the son of the stained glass artist Wilfred Lawson, mentioned above in connection with the Centenary windows. John Lawson studied at Chelsea School of Art and spent much of his career creating designs for ecclesiastical settings. He was also interested in heraldry and in 1994 was commissioned to design a window with a heraldic theme for the Henry VII chapel at Westminster Abbey. He was equally in demand overseas and in the 1990s was invited by the Sultan of Brunei to design a glass dome for a new mosque built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the sultan's reign. Closer to home, Lawson's work can be seen in hundreds of churches all around Britain, including Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire. Locally, he created a series of windows for the Lady Chapel at All Saints' Church, Benhilton. John Lawson died in October 2009 at the age of 77.

The brief the artist was given for this window was that it should be a celebration of St. Andrew. John Lawson chose to illustrate the following passage from St. Matthew’s Gospel, Ch. 4, Vv. 18-20:

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he (Jesus) saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea - for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (New Revised Standard Version)

The window was officially dedicated on Sunday 22nd January 2006 by the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt. Rev. Nick Baines.

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