Christ Church Crest

Stained Glass

Jonah Window - Photo:Ralph WilliamsonChrist Church has much exceptional glass, from quite varied centuries. The earliest is the 1320 window in the Lucy Chapel showing, in a panel in the tracery glass, the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. This panel is a very rare pre-Reformation image of Becket as Henry VIII had ordered all such images of Becket to be destroyed. It survived because the face of Becket was removed in the 1530s and replaced with clear glass. In 1980 this was itself replaced by a piece of pink glass, though Becket’s new head has no features on it.

In the Latin Chapel the 14th century windows display some excellent medieval techniques. They show a number of saints (including St Frideswide), standing under canopies, some with flying buttresses, an early attempt at creating three-dimensional images in art. Two windows in the Cathedral illustrate the work of the 17th century Flemish glaziers, Abraham and Bernard van Linge, who painted scenes onto glass using a mixture of liquid coloured glass, oil and water, which was then fired. A detail from one is shown in the image on the left, depicting Jonah contemplating Nineveh.

The 19th century windows by Edward Burne-Jones demonstrate two sharply contrasting styles: his 1858 St Frideswide Window in the Latin Chapel has crammed scenes in a kaleidoscope of colour, evoking the spirit of medieval glass, while four other windows he designed in the 1870s, made by William Morris, are more typically Pre-Raphaelite. One, the Vyner Memorial Window in the Lady Chapel, unusually bears Burne-Jones’ initials, and his St Catherine in the Chapel of Remembrance bears the likeness of Edith Liddell, sister of Alice in Wonderland. There are other good Victorian windows by William Wailes, John Hardman, and Clayton & Bell whose large St Michael Window dominates the North Transept.

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