Moreton Church's Whistler Windows


Yesterday we took the opportunity to visit St Nicholas’ Church, Moreton, famous for its Laurence Whistler designed, etched windows.  We arrived after heavy rain, and the puddles and mud had to be navigated first.  There is a also a most impressive ford in the road at the Frome river end of the village, that would have been impassable yesterday to anything less than a tractor.  

 

As obedient visitors we didn’t drive right up to the parking spots at the church, but followed the instruction to approach on foot, having parked in the road at the end of the lane, which enters the estate in which the church sits.  Even through the damp atmosphere and sodden grass and bushes the daffodils looked splendid, and the snowdrops, now over, must have been magnificent earlier in the month.

 

We closed the outer gates and the inner door, as directed, to keep out the birds that might “die of thirst” if trapped inside (not yesterday they wouldn’t have!) and we entered the bright church, full of light from the clear etched glass.  There is no stained glass in the building at all.  

 

The windows have been installed over a period of some decades and so, perhaps inevitably, are not a matching series.  The theme that holds them together is the technique in which they are created and the Whistler style, which can be seen throughout.  The themes of light and life appear in several windows and reflect what is happening beyond, as flowers and trees are seen through the etching on the glass itself.

 

Oddly enough, the west window, or “Galaxy” window is perhaps the most spectacular, with whirling stars, like the Milky Way, becoming star-like flowers in a swirl of light.  An alpha and an omega sit at top left and bottom right of the window, denoting the beginning and end of all things in God’s hands.

 

With much less energy and impact is the north aisle Findley Memorial window.  It has delicately etched scenes of the seasons, linked with a circle of seeds and flowers and falling leaves.  In its own way it is quite lovely, but lacks the impact of some others, such as the Trinity Chapel window, with its detail in natural life of birds and butterflies, trees, sun and clouds, but is striking as an overall composition and best viewed from a distance.

 

With the air as damp as it was yesterday, it is no wonder that the windows were running in condensation and darkened with the clouds outside, but we were glad to be there and fulfil another little visit that we had intended for some time.  The kneelers are lovely too; each different; all beautifully designed and worked.

 

 

John Mann