The Stained Glass

The Stained Glass

East Window – Life of St Peter: Chavasse Memorial (1964)

This glass is an important early work by major British stained glass artist John Hayward (1929-2007). He made his reputation with the striking window in St Bride’s Fleet Street, London, shortly before this. His other major work is the West Window of Sherborne Abbey.

Hayward’s figures are typically elongated and ascetic, with faces like Greek masks. He not only designed and made all his windows in his distinctive style. The following is the artist’s description of the window given at its dedication in 1964:

Chavasse Memorial Window

Photo taken by Alastair Carew-Cox.

“The glass in the East Window is a memorial to the first Master of St Peter’s College, Dr Christopher Maude Chavasse. The design is based on two separate but interwoven themes, the principal use of which is concerned to show the scenes and symbols of the powerful and often paradoxical personality of St Peter, under whose patronage the College is founded.  The second theme illustrates something of the history of the College and its first Master.

The point at which the two themes meet is at the tower, which the large red figure of St Peter holds in his left hand. This richly coloured feature is the tower of the College Chapel, but also represents the whole Church supported by Peter the Rock. From the tower the smaller of the two themes moves generally horizontally across the top of the lights. Against a pink background of Hannington Hall, flies a group of fantails which Dr Chavasse kept for many years in St Peter’s tower.

To the right is the small kneeling figure of the Master, with his pastoral staff as Bishop of Rochester. That arms of his College, Trinity, are above. To the left, at the other end of the flight, are the Chavasse arms, impaled with those of the Diocese of Rochester, light-heartedly supported by his pet squirrel and tortoise. In the background below and on either side of St Peter are scattered some small personal reminders of Dr Chavasse. To the left, the well-known view of Rochester with the Cathedral and Castle, above this a dogfight, a typical sight to a Bishop whose Diocese lay right in the path of bomb-alley, and above this can be seen his famous cigarette holder. To the right, below the monogram of Christopher Maude Chavasse are his Military Cross and his tin leg which became so characteristically a family joke. The Olympic sign beneath remind us of his selection, with his twin brother, for the Olympic Games in 1908.”

West Window – Christ with Nine Apostles (1874)

The window shows ten figures under architectural canopies designed by the major Victorian stained glass artist Henry Holiday (1839-1927), made by Heaton Butler and Bayne , set on a background of plain glazing in 1964. The design and execution is conventional late 19th century work.

The heraldic devices are of the eight Rectors who had served the church since its consecration.

The South Chancel Window

Photo taken by Alastair Carew-Cox.

South Chancel Window – ‘In His hands the seeds will grow’

Bossanyi WindowThis masterpiece of stained glad was made in 1943 by Ervin Bossanyi. It was not a commissioned work, but was made by the artist ‘to keep his hand in’.

The artist’s description of the subject matter is inscribed on the reverse of the design:

‘A mother distributes the fruits of the earth. She feeds the birds, and gives some fruit to her young son. The boy offers the fruit to Christ, and as He holds it in his hand it starts to grow and becomes a beautiful plant’.

The window has been exhibited widely. It was given a permanent home at St Peter’s by the beneficiaries of the artist’s estate, in memory of Ervin and Wilma Bossanyi, with its installation made possible through the generosity of Mr and Mrs Robin Hodgson (1997).

Photo taken by Alastair Carew-Cox.