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The 2022 Celebration Window St Mary and St Andrew, Whittlesford

The installation of a permanent and long-lasting commemoration of one thousand years of the church and village.

At an open meeting in Whittlesford in January 2020, the decision was made to commission a stained glass window for the Parish Church of St Mary's and St Andrew's Church, Whittlesford.

Sally Cassels, 'window team' member, explains more about the process.

"That Spring, stained glass artist Benjamin Finn FMGP was chosen from a shortlist of three to undertake the commission. There followed many weeks of discussion and development of ideas. The new window group liaising with Ben managed to meet with him at the church as well as online. Along with the rest of the world, we were restricted by circumstances, but the discussions were always detailed, lively and stimulating.

We chose CARING as the overall theme of the window. We decided on a figurative rather than abstract design, and that the window should specifically reference local people, the village and its history. Nature and the natural world were also important, not only as inspiration for images of beauty but as a reflection of the caring theme - the importance of caring for our precious environment. As the weeks went by and the pandemic took hold, we realised that this period would be remembered for that and we therefore also wanted to include a reference to Covid-19. 

Our predecessors a hundred years ago were emerging from the Spanish influenza pandemic when they refurbished the church and celebrated the end of World War Two, commemorating this period with a stained glass window and panel depicting its history. We were aware of the parallels with our own time as once again the church was refurbished and the village community came together in support of one another when times were particularly hard for some.

As design ideas evolved, Ben began to develop the theme of darkness, Winter and adversity in the left hand light, and Spring, optimism and shared hope and happiness in the right hand light. As part of this theme, a sad figure on the left would be encouraged across to the right by a strong, positive figure on that side, across the divide of the stone mullion between them.

In addition to commemorative text along the base of the window (which is a feature of existing windows in the church), we wanted a biblical verse within the imagery. Various suggestions were made, and after a vote, Isaiah 43:2 (When you go through deep waters, I will be with you) was chosen. The meaning of the verse speaks for itself, and the river flowing through the design echoes the words; also the two phrases, one negative and one reassuring, reflect the idea of threat on one side and hope on the other, the left and right lights.

Ben Finn went to great lengths to obtain glass of the best possible quality and colour for his purpose. From early in the process, he suggested that darker colours, predominantly blue, should feature on the left, and lighter hues (green and yellow) on the right.

Light is the medium of a stained glass artist. There are numerous references to light within this window. Light shining through a door, window, or branches, from the moon or rays of the sun, through a rainbow, or reflected by water or cloud, is a key element of the design that Ben embraced with beautiful results. Only in this medium can light be depicted but also actively be part of the image as it shines through the glass.

We wanted to include a wide variety of people and places. There is a crowd, couples, and individuals; the figure of the mother represents caring at its most essential. Relationships of care, protection, happiness, difficulty and sadness are to be seen. Hands, holding, reassuring, and caring, are a striking element that we felt were important and significant.

The window has evolved and changed during the past two years to take shape into the beautiful work of art we now see. The images incorporate a wealth of detail and many symbols and themes. "

Page last updated: Monday 14th August 2023 10:37 AM
First published on: 14th August 2023
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