Posted by: Glassartist | May 23, 2009

CONTEMPORARY STAINED GLASS WINDOW IN AN ANCIENT WILTSHIRE CHURCH

Sunrise Stained Glass studio has completed many commissions of new contemporary windows throughout the UK, and was invited to design and install a new stained glass window in an ancient church in an area of Wiltshire with a fascinating history and in an area of great natural beauty.

Ancient sites in Wiltshire include Stonehenge, Silbury Hill and Old Sarum. The beautiful open countryside of Wiltshire is characterised by the ancient high level trackway called ‘The Ridgeway’ and which overlooks Wiltshire’s woodland and forests such as Severnake Forest, present day reminders of the county’s feudal past.  Described as Britain’s Oldest Road, the Ridgeway is a 85 mile (137km) route that follows the chalk hills between Overton Hill, near Avebury and Ivinghoe Beacon in Hertfordshire. The route has been in constant use for 4000 years and some believe it continued beyond Wiltshire, heading south into Dorset and on to the coast. The route was used by prehistoric man and has been described by some as being as important as today’s modern roads. The Wiltshire stretch of the Ridgeway is the most remote section of the entire route and runs along the ridge of archaeologically rich downland between Overton Hill and Uffington White Horse, on the Oxfordshire borders.


The Ridgeway, Wiltshire

Many observers have noted the proximity of the Ridgeway with the rash of crop circles that have emerged in the countryside alongside the route and argue that this connection, coupled with the nearness of ancient sites, such as Avebury and The Sanctuary, proves the significance of The Ridgeway as a way of connecting these important religious sites.



A STAINED GLASS WINDOW COMMISSION IN A MODERN STYLE

To commemorate the end of the second Christian Millennium and the beginning of the third, a new stained glass window was installed in Chiseldon’s historic parish church, the Church of the Holy Cross (established in 903 AD). The ancient church of the Holy Cross, Chiseldon, Wiltshire was first established in 903 and the Millennium Window includes a pictorial reference to The Ridgeway and nearby Liddington Castle. The icon portrays links to these local historical sites (i.e. the Ridgeway and the Roman road of Ermine Street) as part of a wider illustration of the roads leading from Rome and the travels of St Paul in spreading the Christian message and also to the life of King Alfred (849-899).

The Design and Glazing scheme:

The leading rhythmically moves from the point of Christ’s birth, across to the far right hand panel where some of these colours and shapes are echoed, suggesting that God’s light was in the world before the incarnation of Jesus his Son, and is eternal.


Stained glass window design

The progression of time is marked as a row of red dots across the bottom of the three windows. This again suggests the eternal light of God in the world before and after our own reckoning of time.  The date 2,000 appears at the bottom right hand as digital numbers.


Stained glass window detail


Symbolism

Left-hand window:

  • The 33 years of Christ’s life are represented by the marks moving upwards along the left-hand border of the first window.
  • Illustrations from the life of Christ which appear in the far left-hand panel:
  • The time of the descent of the Holy Spirit to Mary is marked by a single white lily (emerging from the relative darkness of the surrounding colour).
  • A fisher if men – The sign of the early Christians of Jesus as Icthus the fish, the first and the last, upon the body of a netted fish (recalling the Miraculous Draught of Fishes, the Calling of the Apostles as “fishers of men”).
  • The blessing of the bread and the wine, recalling the Last Supper and Holy Communion.
  • The crucifixion, the end and the beginning, illustrated by the three crosses on the hill at Calvary, etched simply into the purple glass at the top of the first window.

The central panel continues:

  • The conversion of St Paul AD and his travels.
  • Constantine 312, ‘in hoc signo vinces’  – recalling the Council of Nicea and the Creed and the first Synod of Bishops.  Constantine’s conversion – the first Christian Emperor of Rome and thus the foundation of western Christianity.  Illustrated by Constantine’s vision of Jesus’ cross appearing upon the sun and ‘in this sign, victory’.
  • St Augustine 597 – Augustine (the first Bishop of the English) and his monks are sent by the Pope to bring the Gospels to Britain.
  • The building of the Church of the Holy Cross at Chiseldon in 903 beside the Ridgeway – and only four years after the death of St Alfred the Great of Wessex whose translation into English of many Latin works on ecclesiastical administration enabled the re-establishment of the educational and social functions of the Church after the Danish invasion.

The right hand window:

  • Johann Gutenburg – the first mechanical printing of the Bible and being of great significance to the spreading of the Christian message.
  • The Reformation – The dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII 1533, the end of Papal rule and the establishment of the Anglican Church.– depicted by light streaming through a ruined abbeys’ rose window – So the light and truth of Jesus’ teaching prevails in the world even amongst the dissolution and reforming of the imperfect earthly body of the Church.
  • Thomas Cranmer and the blue Book of Common Prayer, the revised edition widely accepted in 1622.
  • The admission of women into the priesthood in 1994 – and the unbroken transfer of the Holy Spirit from the time of the apostles to the present day.


The window is made from full antique hand-made glass from the (now defunct) Sunderland firm of Hartley Wood, and flashed antique French glass from St Just, with accent colours in Tatra antique glass from Poland. To find out more about the making of flat glass by the mouth-blown method, see the article ‘antique glass’.  The window was designed and made by Jude Tarrant AMGP of Sunrise Stained Glass Ltd.

To see more church stained glass commissions by the studio please follow this link.

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Responses

  1. Hi all, here every one is sharing these experience, so it’s nice to read this webpage, and I used to pay a visit this website every day.

  2. Hello, Neat post. There’s an issue together with your website in web explorer, might check this? IE still is the market leader and a huge part of folks will miss your wonderful writing due to this problem.

    • Hi Waldo, thanks for your interest. There is an issue with Flash galleries not being supported on our original website so we have been working hard to find a solution, and that has resulted in two new websites. The studio new site is at http://www.stainedglassartists.co.uk and there is an artist profile of our glasspainter Jude Tarrant at http://www.artiststainedglass.co.uk. So I hope you can view all our work now.


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