Monday 18 December 2023

A Whall Window

 Yesterday I visited St Oswald, Ashbourne, one of the finest town churches in Derbyshire (where I celebrated Advent last tear). My cousin and I paid our respects to poor Penelope Boothby, admired the (mostly) excellent Victorian stained glass, and, in particular, drank in the beauty of the window above, which commemorates the sisters Monica and Dorothea Turnbull, who died in a terrible domestic accident: a lamp held by their father burst into flames, setting fire to Dorothea's dress, and then Monica's, as she tried desperately to save her sister. The distraught parents commissioned Christopher Whall, a brilliant stained glass designer in the Arts & Crafts manner, and he delivered a window of rare beauty. The colours sing, and the drawing, particularly of the faces, is superb. Monica is shown as St Barbara, Dorothea as the saint of the same name, and between them is St Cecilia, falling asleep to the sound of celestial music. Beneath her is an image of the Celestial City, visible though a thicket of thorns. Needless to say, my photograph does scant justice to this magnificent window. 


  1. There's a particular Arts & Crafts pink colour that is quite distinctive and it really does sing, as you put it so aptly, in the Whall window. The church is jam-packed with wonderful detail - it never fails to delight. But it's named after St Oswald, I think. There's a charming brass plaque in the church commemorating its dedication to Oswald. Apparently, it's the oldest plaque in Britain, although I wouldn't know how accurate that is.

  2. St Oswald's, I think!

    1. Of course – St Oswald's! Blame it on Christmas.