Stained glass windows appear in churches all over the world but are little known as memorials. Translucent art expert Caroline Swash has collated those across London which were made out of respect for those who lost their lives in World War One.
Each of the windows that were made have a connection with a specific event from World War One. This was then made into the design which you can see below.
Unlike art that appears in a gallery, all the windows below can be seen in the environment for which they were created, so if you want to pay your respects or just get out and about around London, go check them out!
Holy Trinity Church, Prince Consort Road - 1925
This unusual First World War memorial window was designed by Harry Grylls (1873-1953). Christ has been represented as a mystical Kingly warrior riding a white warhorse with his youthful followers similarly mounted and armed. In the pale blue sky above a vision of the New Jerusalem can be seen - a magical walled city of domes and towers. At the base of the composition, Christ’s horse tramples the defeated scarlet dragon of Evil, which expires in flames upon the bright green grass. The text below reads ‘Faithful and True he was called’ and ‘in righteousness he doth judge and make war’.
Gray’s Inn Chapel, A5200 – 1920
Stained glass artist, Christopher Whall (1849-1924) created this First World War memorial in memory of the young men of the first and second London Welsh Battalions and Royal Welch Fusiliers from Gray’s Inn. Here stands an unusually youthful Archangel Michael holding the scales of Justice. His sword restrains the dragon of evil whose open eye and bared fangs reveal its continuing power.
All Hallows by the tower, Byward Street – 1922
This casket contains the Lamp of Maintenance given by the Prince of Wales, a replica of the oil lamp used by Philip Clayton. Clayton was one of the founders of Talbot House (Toc H), based in Poperinghe in Belgium as a ‘home from home’ for soldiers during the First World War. The casket is decorated with stained glass shields showing the arms and names of 152 Toc H branches established world wide after the war. These complex shields were designed and made by Archibald John Davies (1877-1953) of The Bromsgrove Guild.
St Edmund the King. Lombard Street (The London Spirituality Centre) – 1920
In 1917 during the First World War, St Edmund’s church was badly damaged by a squadron of German ‘Gotha’ bombers. This was one of the new windows installed after restoration, a memorial to the 26th (The Bankers' Battalion) of the Royal Fusiliers raised by the Lord Mayor in July 1915. The men were mostly Bank Clerks and Accountants working in the City, sent for training first to Marlow then Aldershot and landing in France in May 1916 where they took part in the Somme campaign - suffering heavy losses. The Battalion continued fighting in Italy in 1917 returning to France and finally Belgium in 1918.
In this window by Guy and Percy Bacon, St George stands in splendour on the south side of the church, his silver armour offset by a scarlet cloak. Plump and confident, he holds the laurel wreath of Victory aloft in one hand and his horseman’s spear in the other.
St Andrews United Reformed Church, Frognal Lane – 1922
The First World War brought tragedy and bereavement to the predominantly Scottish community who worshipped in this church. To commemorate both the triumph and sacrifice of the Great War, a new window was commissioned in 1922 from Scottish artist, Douglas Strachan (1875-1950). The upper ‘Sacrifice’ window (first image above) shows visionary warrior horsemen on radiant chargers hurtling over land and sea brandishing sword, sickle, scythe and spear while below them, the military depart for war.
At the very base of the window (second image above), a young man lies dead in a woman’s arms. Here the time-honoured image of the Pieta has been used to acknowledge the personal tragedies of so many.
St John-at-Hampstead, Church Row – 1917
In the small ‘Morning Chapel’ near the chancel added in 1911, Joan Fulleylove (1886-1947) created an utterly haunting stained glass memorial in memory of Frederick Haeffner who died in 1916 aged 26. At the base, two child angels, their hair fashionably bobbed hold up palm branches as they kneel beside a soldier’s wooden cross. Ocean sunset and budding spring flowers have all been transcended by the power of Fulleylove’s artistry into a memorable image of loss and hope.
Christ Church Fulham, Studdridge Street – 1922
Karl Parsons (1884-1934) created several First World War memorials for this church. A dedication to ‘Those that came not home from the Great War’ includes an especially poignant mention of the short life of one of Christ Church’s first choirboys, killed at Houpline in France aged 21.
The Archangel Michael (first image above) has been shown holding the scales of Judgement steady in one hand with a flaming sword in the other. Purple wings frame his metallic armour and flames play around his feet.
His companion (second image above) is the demure Angel of Peace. She is a girl of fairy tale purity with blonde plaits and downcast eyes dressed in a white robe holding a dove and a lily. The rainbow of eternal hope bends across the small windows above.