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The Main East Window

The Main East Window, 1929 (Randall Memorial)

The East Window was donated by Leonard Randall, a generous benefactor of St. Paul`s.  This one was given in memory of his first wife Emily (Gladys) Randall, and was dedicated on 15th September 1929.

Like the Lady Chapel window this was severely damaged in July 1944 by a flying bomb landing on the East side of the church: only one-seventh of the original remained, (to judge by the insurance valuation before and after).  The work was done by Morris & Company once again, and the window was rededicated on 28th February 1954.

The details of the design are rather complicated, far more so than any other window in St. Paul`s – but I think it merits a full description. 

In the centre is the figure of Christ.  With one hand, He holds the Cross, which is portrayed symbolically as a Vine bringing forth new shoots; while His other hand points down to a chalice.  At the Last Supper and indeed at every Mass, the wine in the chalice is identified with His sacrificial Blood shed on the Cross; so, in a sense, the Cross is the ‘Vine’ from which that wine flows.  More straightforwardly, we are reminded of our Lord`s words, ‘I am the Vine, you are the branches’ (John 15).

Moving upwards past the two figures of angels, we see Christ depicted again, this time seated in glory, with crown and orb of kingship, in the act of blessing.

The other principal figures in the window are four women, two on each side.  It`s not easy to identify all of these with certainty. There are conflicting reports in the PCC records. However:

No. 1 is referred to as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus;

No. 2 is definitely the Virgin Mary, who needs no further introduction 

No. 3 is named as Mary Magdalene is shown with a pot of ointment, although it could be Mary of Bethany who anointed Jesus in [John 12] while Mary Magdalene is usually identified with the penitent sinner who anointed Him in [Luke 7.].

No.4. Holding a bucket is described in our parish records as the ‘woman of Samaria’.  She certainly had a bucket (John 4) but she’s never been regarded as a saint – quite the reverse!  The woman here is shown with a halo, indicating a saint, and the William Morris Society records identify her as Martha, in which case, the bucket stands for her preoccupation with the housework. [Luke 10).

Incidentally, take a look at the scenery and buildings just above the heads of the 3rd and 4th women. The blue in the clothing of the female figures. Not a brilliant restoration!

Below the five main figures, we have 4 ‘winged creatures’, which are symbols of the four evangelists, with labels attached! The man for Matthew, the lion for Mark, the ox for Luke, and the eagle for John.  In the centre, there is the sacred monogram ‘IHS’, being the first three letters of ‘Jesus’ in Greek.

The top part of the window – the tracery – consists mostly of seraphs and angels. These are originals. The two longest tracery windows contain the archangels Raphael (left) and Michael (right).  Between these, there are four small angels playing musical instruments.  The four angels just below this level are holding scrolls marked ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo’ (Glory be to God on High), while the eight below them are seraphs with extra wings.

There are also five tiny windows depicting the instruments of Christ`s Passion: the hammer (triangular window to left of Raphael), the whip (to right of Michael), the Crown of Thorns (at the very top), and the nails and pincers (immediately below this, to left and right respectively).

The inscription at the base of the window reads: “To the Glory of God and in Dear Memory of Emily (Gladys) Randall.  Her Passing on 23rd April 1928 was as Peaceful as her Life had been Beautiful.  Erected by her Husband Leonard Randall.”