Tuesday 20 December 2016

Two Windows

Sorry, a bit of a hiatus there - put it down to much busyness of one kind and another, and its reverse, a restful (offline) weekend in Derbyshire with my cousin. No notable church monuments this time, but highlights included two villages with particularly handsome main streets - King's Newton and Winster - and one major Norman parish church, Melbourne (just round the corner from King's Newton). Major or not - and rich in antiquarian interest it undoubtedly is - this church reminded me of how rebarbative and godless Norman architecture can be. The heavy gloom of the interior was deeply dispiriting: this was conqueror's architecture - on a small scale, but still oppressive, redolent of power without glory or grace. Happily the setting, with the grand surprise of an extensive lake just around the corner from the church - and a pleasant tea room among the outbuildings of Melbourne Hall - restored the spirits.
 A much more pleasing church, though in every way 'minor', was St John's in Winster, remodelled twice in the 19th century to end up as a double aisle with a colonnade down the middle and arches thrown diagonally to the chancel. This works surprisingly well, creating an airy, cheering and distinctive interior - which proved impossible to capture in a photograph, so I've headed this post with the church's notable window, a little gem by Burne-Jones that's tucked away in the chancel. And below is the upper half of a much larger, more assertive nave window which at first struck me as too jagged and geometric for my taste, but which grew on me the longer I looked at it. The drawing of Christ's features is, I think, particularly fine, and the whole design is full of drama. I've been quite unable to find out who designed this window, so if anyone has any information, please let me know...


  1. Melbourne Church is indeed oppressive and gloomy; I feel I ought to be impressed but always come out of the church feeling downcast, just as you did. It has a "nearly but not quite" sheela na gig, which might provide some macabre humour to some, although not to me.The capital with the carving of an elongated and grotesque cat is rather grim too. I don't think I'd want to go to Evensong there.

    It's worth going again in the summer to see Melbourne Hall Gardens, which still have the original 18th century layout. By the pond, there is an astonishing wrought iron arbour by Bakewell. You probably know this already.

  2. Thanks Mary - and yes we do intend to walk round the gardens in the summer.
    As for the mystery Winster window, I'm wondering if it might be Margaret Agnes Rope, the 'forgotten woman' of stained glass design?

    1. Or her cousin, Margaret Edith Aldrich Rope? M.E. did a window in Chesterfield.

      I'm afraid I haven't a clue but I thank you for introducing the Ropes to me.

  3. I think we have the answer, thanks to the indefatigable Dave Lull - the window was designed by Bernard Sleigh, an Arts & Crafts all-rounder who is well enough known to have his own Wikipedia entry. Apparently he has a good window in Holy Trinity, Ilkeston, too...