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Stained Glass
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St Mary’s, Old Swinford

The Windows

 

 

The stained glass in the church reveals an immediate contrast between the evangelical early Victorian nave of 1843 and the Gothic revival late Victorian chancel of 1898. In the relatively unadorned nave the emphasis is on the pulpit and the ‘Word’. The glass is plain and colour is limited to the window heads. In the two chancel windows powerful imagery and strong colours abound everywhere. The Lady Chapel contains three early twentieth century windows in a style similar to that of the chancel.

 

 

Nave windows

The long Gothic style windows contain plain glass except at the top. Thin glass panels are held in metal frames as befits a church in an iron producing area. The apex of each window contains brightly coloured glass featuring symbols of Christ and the Eucharist, notably the Lamb, the paten and the chalice. The large rose window in the west wall above the gallery is also filled with coloured glass and is spectacular on a sunny afternoon. A special fund was set up in 1843 to pay for the glass and William Hunt, the church secretary, organised the appeal. Tragically, he fell to his death from his horse a few months before the restoration was complete and a memorial to him can be seen high up on the south chancel wall.

 

 

Chancel East Window

The large east window representing Christ in Majesty and the Heavenly City dominates the church. It was dedicated in 1902 as a memorial to Margaret Webb whose family had founded the well known firm of seed merchants at Wordsley, now at Wychbold and Hagley. They also owned the White House and Red House glassworks at Wordsley and lived at Studley Court, the site of the old Heath glassworks, now Mary Stevens park. The window, produced by Clayton and Bell, the eminent London glass firm, is an impressive, though somewhat static, display of a great array of Christian figures. Every inch of this splendid window is covered with details of figures, towers, drapery, and symbols. At the apex is the Trinity represented by angels holding scrolls, beneath which are fourteen Christian Virtues. The central panels portray Christ the King flanked by St. John and St. Peter, St. Andrew and St. Paul, and St. Stephen and St. Alban. The banner of St. George has been laid at the feet of Christ. The lower panels emphasize the figure of St. Mary, who is standing in a garden of lilies holding the Infant Jesus. She is flanked by a panel on each side showing the Three Kings presenting gifts and Jesus teaching in the Temple.

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Chancel north side

The musical tradition of the church is commemorated by this window of St. Cecilia. It was given in 1905 in memory of Emily Wright, wife of Edward Wright, the owner of a Black Country firm of gas boiler makers, who lived nearby at Hillville in Glasshouse Hill. A whole host of angelic figures with a variety of instruments can be seen around the central figure of the saint in a joyful portrayal of music.

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Chancel south side

Several small panels from the nave of 1843 were re-used in this stone partition between the chancel and the chapel. They were probably set in the east window and moved when the chancel was enlarged in 1898. The heraldry represents the Lytteltons of Hagley, former patrons of the church, Bishop Pepys who consecrated the new building in 1843 and the Revd. Charles Craufurd, the Rector of the same year. Alfred Timbrell’s arms were added later.

 

 

Lady Chapel east window

This three light window commemorates the Revd. Alfred Timbrell who died in 1898. He was the popular Rector of Old Swinford, who was responsible for the grand rebuilding of the chancel. He died suddenly just after its dedication and in 1924 this fine window was erected to commemorate him, together with his mother and sister. It portrays three angels in the apex and four scenes of the Resurrection. The small panels at the base show Christ in the Garden with Mary Magdalene, Christ on the road to Emmaus with Cleopas and his friend and Christ’s reconciliation with Peter culminating in his instruction to ‘Feed my sheep’. The main scene is the house at Emmaus when Christ broke the bread for the meal and reveals the moment when Cleopas and his friend suddenly realise that they were in the presence of the risen Christ. Their arms and their body position indicate quite strikingly the shock of that wonderful moment.

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Lady Chapel south side

This window was given in memory of James Evers-Swindells, the local ironmaster, who died in 1910. He lived at ‘The Castle’, the timber-framed house close to the church. It was the work of James Willis and portrays the Risen Christ with St. Thomas and other apostles. Christ is pointing to his pierced side and Thomas on his knees is responding with, ‘My Lord and My God’.

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Lady Chapel south side

The Grazebrook window is a dramatic representation of Christ stilling the waves. It was produced by the William Morris workshop in 1916 as a war memorial to Engineer Commander Robert Grazebrook of the eminent glass family. He had lived in the parish and an early appointment had been on the royal yacht, Victoria and Albert, where he had become quite a favourite with Queen Alexandra. By 1914 he was third officer of the pre-Dreadnought battleship, H.M.S. Cressy, which went to sea on the declaration of war. He went down in September 1914 when the Cressy and two other battleships were torpedoed off the Dutch coast on the same day. When the window was assembled, it was found to be too short. A new panel, mainly featuring grass, was inserted at the bottom but the opportunity was taken to include small images of both the Cressy and Robert Grazebrook. The flags in the apex represent Britain’s allies in 1914 and include Serbia and Japan.

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