The first in a series of articles relating to stained glass windows
A day off presented me the chance to spend some time inside God’s House in my local parish of Plymstock.
I dearly love St Mary’s. It was the church I attended as a child. To me the church’s crowning glory is the magnificent ‘Te Deum’ east window which stands in the chancel above the High Altar.
The depictions within this window are stunning; many of them having burned into my memory as from a young age I served at the High Altar and sat staring at this window during sermons! Kneeling at the High Altar during the Eucharist set the dedication and the words of the Te Deum firmly in my mind. I suppose this wonderful C19 Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece has worked for me as similar windows would have done to my forebears – the conveyance of a message.
The dedication of the window reads:
In memory of James and Caroline Nutt and of their children
And the Te Deum panels in the window reads (from left hand light to right hand light):
The goodly fellowship of the PROPHETS praise thee
Make them to be numbered with thy SAINTS in glory everlasting
WE PRAISE THEE O GOD
The glorious company of the APOSTLES praise thee
The noble army of MARTYRS praise thee
The window was designed by Fouracre and Watson of the West of England Stained Glass Studio at Chapel Street in Stonehouse and was erected in January 1887.
The Western Morning News newspaper reported upon the new window saying:
“The east window of Plymstock Church has been filled with painted glass, illustrative of our Lord in Majesty. The window is a large one of five lights with elaborate tracery, which has been utilised in the representation of the subject, and not filled with insignificant forms as generally done. The centre light shows our Lord, crowned, seated on the throne, and bearing in His hands the orb and sceptre. At His feet angels bow in adoration while behind the throne and extending entirely across the upper portion of the whole five lights is depicted the “glorious hierarchy of heaven”, angels bearing various insignia of their office, and contributing to the general acclamation of praise which is the dominant feature of the composition.
In the lower portion, which is separated by a cloud band, there are on our Lord’s right, nearest the centre, the saints, prominent among whom is the Virgin Mary bearing the traditional lily. By the side of this is the “goodly fellowship of the prophets” – Jeremiah, Elijah and his raven, and others, all in wrapt adoration of the great Centre. On the left are “the glorious company of the Apostles” – with John, Peter and James, while the outer light has “the noble army of martyrs”, including Augustine, St George. Between these panels and the inscription at the base are representations of the waters, earth and heavens, and the natural creations peculiar to them – fish, animals and birds.
The whole window is most successfully treated, and ranks among the finest productions from the studio of the artists, having received the high approval of the donor and the popular vicar, (the Rev. St. Quentin Sproule), whose energetic efforts among his parishioners have been so appreciated. The window is the gift of Mr. R. C. Nutt, a parishioner, and, as the inscription informs us, is “In memory of James and Caroline Nutt, and of their children.” The work is from the studio of Messrs. Fouracre and Watson, of Stonehouse.”
This article excerpt is taken from my newly self-published history of the windows at St Mary’s, Plymstock. If you’d like to purchase a copy please get in touch.
© Graham Naylor