Windows into history

St Michael’s Church, which next year celebrates its 900th anniversary, declares its history not just in its stone and wood architecture, but in its windows too.

Two stained-glass windows in particular come from significant moments in the history of the village.  The oldest glass in the church can be glimpsed behind the right-hand choir stalls (Decani, for those choristers amongst our readers…), and dates from the fifteenth century. The Martyn Window, named after the family responsible for rebuilding the church at the time, was originally installed in 1447; the remaining glass owes its continued existence to the fact that it was apparently hidden on a nearby farm during the English Civil War.

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The Lady Chapel is home to a window from the Pre-Raphaelite Period, commissioned in 1877 from Henry Holiday (1839-1927), artist, illustrator, sculptor and stained-glass window designer who lived in Bayswater in London. Holiday’s windows can be found across the country, notably in Westminster Abbey and Worcester College, Oxford, to name but two. Holiday was also commissioned to illustrate Lewis Carroll’s famous The Hunting of the Snark. Holiday’s family were also friends of Emmeline Pankhurst, organiser of the Suffragete movement. The Pre-Raphaelites famously rebelled against the Royal Academy’s trumpeting of genre-painting and idealist depictions, urging rather an embracing of the natural world and an intense realism in art, led by William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

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Pieces from a civil war and rebellious art: echoes of great history and its wider cultural connections quietly presented in this small corner of the world…

(Grateful acknowledgement of the information leaflet in the church for some of these details).

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