The Stained Glass Windows of St Andrew’s Church, Histon
The windows in the chancel are by Mayer of Munich. Windows by this company are relatively rare but may be seen at Melchbourne (Beds), Apsley Gurse (Beds), Brentwood RC Cathedral, St Mary, Ipswich, Great Bealings (Suffolk) and South Repps (Norfolk). Pevsner describes the style as ‘completely pictorial’. Starting at the NW, the windows follow selected words from the Nicene Creed.
1 The Creation
I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth
A representation of God’s hand at the very top of the window forms the introduction to the window. Elements of Creation are depicted, sun and moon, land and water, birds, plants, fish, animals and Adam. These follow the order of Genesis 1.1–31.
|Day one:||the creation of light and its separation from darkness to be day and night.|
|Day two:||the creation of the sky.|
|Day three:||the creation of sea and of land producing vegetation (both water and land are in the window with trees and other plants growing on the land).|
|Day four:||creation of the sun and moon to separate day and night and to mark the changing seasons (sun and moon both in the window).|
|Day five:||creation of fish and birds (there are fish in the water and birds in the sky in the window).|
|Day six:||creation of all other living creatures and of Adam and Eve. Eve is not depicted. However, a serpent is visible, a reminder of the Fall of Adam and Eve and their subsequent expulsion from Eden.|
The inscription is DONO I ELLIOT (given by J Elliot).
2 Annunciation and Nativity
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God…And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary
The dove at the top is one of the traditional symbols of the Holy Spirit. The angel is telling Mary that she is to bear Jesus. This is based on the account in Luke 1.26–38. The traditional Nativity scene shows an angel, Mary and Joseph, and the Magi offering their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2.11).
The inscription is DONO L A UNDERWOOD (given by L A Underwood). This was Canon Underwood’s wife. The chancel was restored in 1874 under the direction of Canon C W Underwood.
3 Betrayal and Judgement
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ was betrayed by Judas’ kiss (Matthew 26.48–50). Judas is holding the bag of money, the thirty silver coins he received from the Jewish officials (Matthew 26.15). The betrayal happened at night, and some of the men are holding torches. Both Roman soldiers and Jewish officials were involved in arresting Jesus (Matthew 26.47). A priest is shown behind Judas, at the right of the window.
Pilate washes his hands (Matthew 27.24) as the mob call for the release of Barabbas (Matthew 27.15–20). Jesus is bound and a prisoner. A reed is placed in his arms to symbolise a sceptre. This was part of the mocking of his kingly status and the humiliation he underwent (Matthew 27.28–31).
The inscription is DONO CLERIC ARCHDIAC.
4 Instruments of the Passion
The small panels depict the various instruments of the Passion of Jesus. From the top left, we see a crown of thorns (Matthew 27.29) and three nails (traditionally one nail for each hand and one nail through both feet). A hammer and pincers or pliers used for the crucifixion and then for taking down the body. The middle pane is a traditional emblem of Christ, based on the words of John the Baptist as recorded in John 1.29, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ The whip used for the scourging of Christ (John 19.1) was a Roman instrument of torture with small pieces of metal on the leather thongs. The inscription INRI was placed on the cross at Pilate’s instructions. It was usual for a placard stating the crime to be carried before the victim as he was taken to the place of execution and then fastened to his cross. The Latin Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum translates as Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. The final pane on the left side depicts the sponge dipped in vinegar (John 19.28) and the spear with which the Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side (John 19.34). The wine vinegar contained herbs which would have been offered to the victims of crucifixion to help lessen the pain. Matthew records (27.34) that Jesus refused it. The Jews wanted to finish the crucifixion before the Sabbath began so they asked Pilate to have Jesus’ legs broken to hasten death and have him taken down. However, when the soldier came to him he found that he was already dead and pierced his side with a spear to confirm this.
The window inscription is DONO S PEED (given by S Peed).
5 Descent from the Cross
He suffered and was buried
Before the Sabbath began at sunset, Jesus was taken down from the Cross. His wounded right hand and feet are shown in the portrayal of this window. Mary was at the Cross (John 19.25) as Christ was lowered by his friends. The lower part of the window shows the Roman soldiers gambling for Christ’s robe (John 19.23, 24) as it was the privilege of the execution party to take the goods of the victims.
The inscription is IN MEM GULIELM TAYLOR (In Memory of William Taylor).
6 The Empty Tomb and Ascension
And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, And ascended into heaven
The top part of the window shows Christ’s ascent to heaven in a cloud as the disciples watch (Acts 1.9). The lower half is the empty tomb and the three women who had come to anoint his body and complete the burial formalities which had been left unfinished on Good Friday because of the commencement of the Jewish Sabbath (Luke 23.55—24.1). Note the sad faces of the women who had come to mourn their friend. The angel spoke the words, ‘He is not here; he has risen!’ Note the crown of thorns lying on the ground. Artistic licence has been used in the depiction of the sepulchre which was actually a cave.
The inscription is IN MEM GULIELM TAYLOR (In Memory of William Taylor).
7 Christ in Judgement
And He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end
Christ returns accompanied by the angels and with the trumpet call of God (1 Thess 4.16). Surrounded by the angels and still bearing the signs of his passion, Christ establishes his kingdom. The lower figure depicts an earthly king whose kingdom falls to Christ and who bows before the King of kings (cf Revelation 11.15).
8 Symbols of Last Supper and the Crucifixion
The small side panels show various symbols of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. The top panel depicts a chalice and bread. The next shows the ‘vernicle’ of St Veronica. There is a strong tradition, which is without Scriptural authority, that Veronica (Latin VERA ICON = true image) wiped the sweat from Christ’s face with her veil as he laboured on the Via Dolorosa. The imprint of his face remained, miraculously, on the cloth. The vernicle is preserved in the Vatican and the Catholic nature of the belief in it and its inclusion here may reflect either the German background of the window makers or the churchmanship of those responsible for commissioning the windows.
The pelican has been a symbol of Christ since mediaeval times. It appears on the shield of Corpus Christi College. Legend has it that the hen bird would pluck out her own breast feathers and peck at her breast to feed her chicks on her blood to ensure their life. The window panel shows the young in the nest. It has been a symbol for Christ because of the image of willingly shedding His own blood for God’s children.
The lanterns and sword remind us of the events surrounding the arrest of Jesus at night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest in an attempt to defend Jesus (Matt 26.51, Mark 14.7, John 18.10).
The last panel shows the seamless garment for which the soldiers gambled at the foot of the Cross (see note to window 5).
I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life
The extended group of disciples, which included women and Mary the mother of Jesus (Acts 1.13, 14) met together in the upper room. The top of the window shows a dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit (John 1.32). As the disciples pray and read Scripture, tongues of fire appear on their heads (Acts 2.3). Fire is another symbol of the Holy Spirit.
10 Council of Jerusalem
I believe one Catholic and Apostolic church
The central figure of the window is probably Peter. The leadership of the Church and various theological issues were debated at this Council. Paul’s ministry was recognised and he and Barnabas were sent back to Antioch (Acts 15).
The inscription is DONO CAR ET MARG ANGIER (given by Charles and Margaret Angier).
11 The next window shows signs and symbols relating to the Old Testament practices for atonement that were fulfilled by Jesus
the remission of sins
The priest would lay his hand on the head of the animal to be slaughtered, symbolically transferring the guilt and sin of the people to the sacrifice, before it was killed (Lev 4). The animal would then be burnt on the altar and the rising smoke would symbolically rise to God. On the Day of Atonement a goat would be selected as scapegoat. The High Priest would make the prescribed sacrifices and would also lay both his hands on the goat, confessing over it all the sins of the Israelites. The goat would then be released in the desert, symbolically bearing away all the sin and guilt of the people (Lev 16). Jesus, through His death on the Cross was both sacrifice and scapegoat. He made Himself an offering to God for the redemption of all people and also, though innocent of any sin, bore the sins of the whole world to bring mankind atonement with God.
The institution of the Lord’s Supper (the Body and Blood of Christ) is shown with Jesus holding the cup. (Luke 20.22 ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’) All disciples are present. It is just possible to count 12 heads. Judas as treasurer of the disciples is shown holding a bag of money (John 13.29). This refers to when Jesus predicted his betrayal and before Judas received his bounty from the officials. Victory of the Archangel Michael over the devil is shown next (Revelation 12.7–9). This represents God’s final victory when we will be freed not just from the punishment and power but also from the presence of sin.
Moses, the Law and the prophets are fulfilled by Jesus (Matt 5.17). Moses is shown holding the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24.12 and Exodus 20).
And I look for the Resurrection of the dead
Doubting Thomas is shown at the second appearance of Christ to the disciples, a week after His resurrection (John 20.26–9). Thomas had previously said, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’ (John 20.25).
Finally the Last Trump is depicted when the dead in Christ shall rise. Still wearing their grave clothes, the pale figures rise (1 Thess 4.16).
The inscription is IN MEM S N UNDERWOOD (In memory of S N Underwood).
12 Agnus Dei (The Lamb of God)
the life of the world to come
The Lamb of God is a symbol of Christ (John 1.29). Here the Lamb is in glory surrounded by the angels (Revelation 5.6,11 and Revelation 12.11).
The emblems of the four evangelists are included: the lion for Mark, an angel for Matthew, an eagle for John and a bull for Luke. The saints of the new kingdom are shown worshipping the Lamb of God. Note the haloes on the people to denote their heavenly state (Revelation 7.9–12).
The inscription is IN MEM CATH BAUMGARTNER. (In memory of Catherine Baumgartner).
The windows are by Clayton and Bell whose prolific workshops produced mosaics including the Albert Memorial and glass for many churches eg St Mary the Great, Cambridge.
13 The east lancets depict the twelve apostles, Paul and John the Baptist with their emblems
Top left is St John the Baptist, holding a lamb because he was the forerunner of Christ. ‘Behold the Lamb of God’. The apostles are linked by the words from an abbreviated Apostles’ Creed, written in Latin.
St Peter is holding his traditional symbol of a key (Matt 16.19). I believe in God the Father
St Andrew holding a cross, the instrument of his martyrdom. and in Jesus Christ His Son
St James the Elder, son of Zebedee (Mark 1.19–20, Matt 10.2). James is holding a pilgrim’s staff which is emblematic of his pilgrimage to Compostella in Spain. Conceived by the holy Ghost
St John the Evangelist, holding a book to denote authorship of a gospel. Suffered under Pontius Pilate
St Philip (Mark 3.18), holding the cross which he used to destroy a great serpent Scythia. descended into Hell
St James the Younger, son of Alphaeus, holding a fuller’s bat with which he was beaten to death by the Jerusalem mob (cf Mark 15.40). Ascended into heaven and is seated
On the right side is St Paul, holding a book to denote his authorship of the epistles in the New Testament.
St Thomas (Matt 10.3) holding a set square with which he was supposed to have built a palace in heaven for an Indian king, having spent on the poor the money given to him to build an earthly one. in glory
St Bartholomew (Matt 10.3) holding the knife with which the Armenians flayed him alive. I believe in the Holy Spirit
St Matthew, again holding a book to denote authorship of a gospel. And in the holy catholic church
St Simon (Matt 10.4), known as the Zealot, holding a saw with which he was martyred. the forgiveness of sins
St Matthias, the replacement for Judas and chosen by lot (Acts 1.24–26). The resurrection of the body
St Judas (Luke 6.16) or Jude, holding a ship. And the life everlasting
14 The south window shows miracles of Christ
The left side shows the restoration of sight to the blind man (John 9.1–11). This includes a portrait of a former churchwarden Mr Sumpter as the blind man with a shade over his eyes. Mr Sumpter was blind. The Sumpter family had paid for the restoration of this transept. The raising of Lazarus (John 11). Mary and Martha, his sisters, are near the tomb as Lazarus emerges.
The healing of the leper (Matt 8.2–4).
West Windows South Transept
15 The words of Christ (Matt 19:14) ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me’
The Latin inscription translates ‘of such is the kingdom of God.’ Also depicted is the washing of Christ’s feet by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 12.3). She poured perfume over them and then wiped them with her hair. Jesus said that this anointing should have been done at the time of His burial. On a separate occasion, another woman, ‘who had led a sinful life’ poured perfume on His feet and wiped them with her hair (Luke 9.37–38).
The glass is by Mayer of Munich after designs by Canon Underwood’s.
16 Three archetypes of Jesus from the Old Testament are depicted
The offering up of Isaac by his father Abraham was a great test of the patriarch’s faith. As Abraham prepared his son for sacrifice, Isaac asked where the lamb was. Memorably Abraham replied, ‘God himself will provide the lamb’ (Gen 22.9). Note the ram caught by its horns in a bush. God provided the ram so that Isaac would be spared. Several elements of this event are precursors of Christ’s death: the Father offering up the Son, the total obedience to God’s will, and the provision of a perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God. The raising of the bronze serpent by Moses occurred as he led the people of Israel in the wilderness (Num 21.4–9). The people were complaining and God sent venomous snakes among them. As a result of snake bites, many people died. When the Israelites repented, Moses prayed for them. God commanded him to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. When anyone was bitten by a snake, they were to look at the bronze snake and they would live. The window shows live snakes on the ground and in the woman’s hand. The New Testament fulfilment of this is recorded in John 3.14. Christ lifted high on the cross gives life and salvation to all who, though dead in their sins, look to Him in faith.
The taking up to heaven of Elijah (2 Kings 2.11) on a chariot of fire is a precursor of the ascent of Jesus following His resurrection (Acts 1.9).
The inscription reads TO THE MEMORY OF L A UNDERWOOD
17 The next window, depicting events surrounding the Nativity, effectively marks the transition from the Old to the New Testament
The angel appears to Joseph (Matt 1.20–23) in his workshop rather than in a dream as recorded in Scripture. No doubt the artist took this licence to make identification of the scene easier as we note the saw and other carpenter’s tools.
The nativity depiction is a traditional one of Joseph, Mary and the Christ Child with the animals, the ox and ass and also the star above the stable.
Herod consulted the priests about the coming of the Christ after the Magi appeared at his palace. The priests and teachers of the Law searched the Scriptures for clues about the Messiah’s birth.
The inscription reads TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF JOSEPH WENTWORTH AND OF HIS DAUGHTER MARTHA.
West Window South Aisle
18 Scenes from Christ’s early years are depicted
The presentation in the Temple took place when Jesus was eight days old. This was according to Jewish Law. Simeon, a devout man, recognised that Jesus was the awaited Messiah (Luke 2.25–35).
The flight to Egypt occurred when Jesus was an infant. The picture shows the family crossing the sea in a boat. Jesus was taken there by his parents to protect Him from the slaughter of all the boys aged two years or less. This was ordered by Herod (Matt 2.13–18). When He was about twelve years of age Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem for Passover. After the Feast He did not return home with them but remained in the Temple courts listening to the teachers and asking and answering questions (Luke 2.41–52). The learned men are shown, surrounded by their scrolls, suitably amazed at His insight and understanding.
The inscription reads TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF HENRY ANGIER AND OF MARY HIS WIFE
West Window North Aisle
19 The three panels of the window in the present choir vestry are all on the one theme
This is a repetition of the theme already depicted in the south transept, namely ‘Suffer the little children’. The central panel shows Christ holding a child, surrounded by other children. The full text of the Scripture verse is given in English ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.’ (Matt 19.14)
The inscription reads To the glory of God and in loving memory of William Burton Ashton and Mary Ann his wife, daughter of Henry Angier.
Again the windows are by Mayer of Munich. They depict scenes between the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ.
The layout of the windows is unusual in that the narration proceeds from the bottom left panel to the top left, then down to the bottom panel again and so in zigzag fashion to the top right.
20 The bottom left panel shows Peter, John and Mary mourning outside the tomb (John 20.1–3)
Mary is carrying a jar of ointment ready to anoint Jesus’ body. The top left panel is Christ’s appearance to Mary Magdalene in the Garden. Thinking He was the gardener she asked him if he knew where Jesus’ body had been taken. He spoke her name at which point she recognised Him. He told her not to touch Him, but to go and tell the disciples of His resurrection (John 20.10–17).
The second lower panel shows Jesus and His two followers walking on the Emmaus road (Luke 24.13–28).The corresponding top panel is at the house of the two men from Emmaus. Jesus walked with them from Jerusalem but they did not recognise Him until He blessed the bread and wine at supper, at which point He disappeared from their sight. The picture shows the two men left with their meal (Luke 24.30–32).
The lower central panel shows the Emmaus disciples hurrying back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples that they had seen the risen Christ (Luke 24.33–35). The top central panel shows the appearance of Jesus to all the disciples (except Thomas) immediately after they had received confirmation of His resurrection from the Emmaus disciples (Luke 24.36–40). The fourth panel shows Thomas declaring his disbelief when the disciples told him that Christ had appeared to them (John 20.24–25). A week later Christ returns and shows Thomas His wounds in His hands and side (John 20.26–29).
The bottom right panel is Christ helping the fishermen make a miraculous catch of fish. After an unsuccessful night’s fishing, He appeared to them and told them where to cast their net. Scripture records that there were 153 large fish in the catch (John 21.1–11). This number is significant because it was the number of different types of fish known at that time. The final panel, top right, shows the reinstatement of Peter by the lakeside after Jesus had prepared breakfast for the disciples. Jesus gave Peter the bread and fish to eat and afterwards commanded him ‘Feed my sheep’ (John 21.12–17).
The top third of the window depicts the angels and archangels in glory praising the risen Christ. Some are playing harps, cymbals and tambourines while others sing ‘Alleluia’. The four central figures are probably representations of Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah.
The damaged inscription reads IN MEMORY OF WILLIAM RICHARD SUMPTER AND CATHERINE.
All photos are by kind permission of the Rev’d Steve Day Copyright © 2010
Article researched and written by Angela Watts