OUR STAINED GLASS
We have two large stained glass windows that pierce the north and south walls of the sanctuary. Both windows are by Miss Clare Dawson, artist of the mural paintings, and as with the paintings smaller roundels are included which relate to the main image.
The windows are primarily pictures in glass, in a classic form with much white glass, rather than the opposing technique which uses richer colour and more decorative and abstracted forms, and which is generally characteristic of medieval glass.
Both are portrayals of archangels: St Michael in the south window (right), and Uriel in the north (below right).
St Michael is mentioned in scriptural and apocryphal literature as the warlike enemy of Satan and the help of Christians, and hence he is portrayed armed and armoured! As is traditionally the case with angels, he is portrayed with a nimbus (halo), and is shown weighing the souls of the departed.
The figure of the Virgin and Child in the roundel at the top of the window may relate to the saving role of the Incarnation, and may also represent the link between the church of St Mary and its mother church of St Michael's, East Wickham. The amorphous green and red shape at the angel's feet may suggest the dragon (Satan) whom he has banished.
Traditionally, there were seven archangels, and Uriel, who is portrayed in the opposite window, is the least well known of those who are named. He appears most notably in the apocryphal book of 2 Esdras, where he gives seven visions to the prophet Esdras (or Ezra), who is portrayed in the window in a supplicatory position, to the left of the figure of the angel, which wears a magnificent robe spangled with stars.
Esdras in the book is represented as asking the angel many questions about the destiny of mankind and the future of human souls after death. The figure of God the Father at the top of the window, reaching out to what appears to be human figure, may thus be linked to these apocalyptic themes of salvation and futurity.
© Paul Shaw 2008