The Tree of Life
By Sarah Dilley
| || |
The Hope Stone
Carved in 2003 by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, Cambridge
It is probable that people have worshipped on this site for over 1000 years. According to Matthew Paris, the 13th. century chronicler of St. Albans Abbey, Abbot Ulsinus founded three churches - St. Peter's, St. Stephen's and St. Michael's - in 948 when he laid out the market. St. Peter's church, built at the northern entrance to the medieval town, has a commanding position and can be seen from many aspects. In the mid-12th century it was one of the 15 churches which, with St. Albans Abbey, became exempt from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Lincoln. It was then ruled by the Abbot of St. Albans until the dissolution of the monasteries. After the dissolution, the churches of St. Albans became part of the See of London until 1845 when Hertfordshire was transferred to the See of Rochester. In 1877 the Diocese of St. Albans was created.
Nothing remains of the Saxon building and no records exist of St. Peter's for nearly 200 years after its foundation. It was during the 13th century that the church assumed the form which it retained until the early 19th century - a cruciform building with a central tower. Baskerfield's drawings of 1787 give an impression of what the church was like in its essentials for so many centuries.
The nave arcades and the greater part of the aisle walls were rebuilt in the 15th century but the 13th century west and south doorways were preserved.
In 1756 the tower arches were removed and loftier ones inserted, as it appears that the floor of the original belfry was so low as to obstruct the perspective view of the church, but these alterations weakened the whole structure and 30 years later the tower became dangerous. In 1785, after a protracted wrangle between the Rector and members of the Vestry, who were not prepared to embark on what they considered extravagant repairs, the tower was underpinned with timber. However, in 1799 the tower had become so dangerous that it was taken down to the level of the crossing arches and finally in 1801 the belfry floor fell in. The new tower, which was erected in brick, was essentially as is seen today in size and shape. At the same time the transepts were demolished and the chancel shortened almost out of existence.
In 1893, after he had completed his restoration of the Abbey Church, Lord Grimthorpe took it upon himself to restore St. Peter's at his own expense. An hour-and-a-half's examination of the church enabled him to decide "what is necessary and desirable to do in the way of restoring it to a safe and creditable condition as far as the modern alterations leave it possible".
He lengthened the chancel and the nave by one bay each. He also widened the church by demolishing the north wall of the nave and building a new north wall outside the line of the old one. The west end is similar in design to that of the north transept in the Abbey with a rose window flanked by turrets. Lord Grimthorpe also raised the roof with a steeper pitch and evidence of the previous flatter pitched nave roof can be seen on the western face of the chancel arch. The angel corbels which held the beams of that roof have been left in their original position.
In 1998 new lighting was installed by Anthony Smith of Gloucester, and the Church was completely redecorated and some of the monuments restored in 2001. In 2004 new oak doors were placed in the South porch and ramped access was provided at 3 entrances and at the chancel step, to bring the church into line with current legislation re: access for disabled persons. In 2005 the church kitchen was completely refurbished and in 2006 a new, half a million pound Mander Pipe Organ was installed - the first of its kind for a decade in this country, and a magnificent addition to the musical resources of our church.
Brief History of the Tower
Until the middle of the 18th century St Peter's had a central tower on a cruciform building. In 1756 the Ringing Chamber floor was raised and higher tower arches built. However, this work was poorly done, and by 1799 the tower had become so dangerous that mosty it had to be dismantled; two years later the floor fell in. Major work was then unavoidable and the tower was reconstructed to a similar size to the present one, while the transepts and most of the chancel were removed at this time. During Lord Grinthorpe's renovations in 1893 it was refaced in red brick with stone dressings.
The first room you enter on climbing the staircase from the ground floor is the Ringing Chamber (the belfry is where the bells are hung). The visitor cannot fail to notice the large number of peal boards which decorate the walls, a total of about 40. Many towers in the UK contain one or more peal boards, but very few have as many as St Peter's. Each one records a ringing performance of at least 5,000 changes, lasting a minimum of 3 hours. Most of these were rung to mark a special occasion such as the Induction of a new vicar or a Royal wedding or funeral. Peal boards of particular note are:
The oldest St Peter's peal board, just to the left of the stairs up to the clock room and belfry, recording a peal of Grandsire Triples rung in 1767. this is notable because 18th century peal boards are quite rare.
The peal rung for the Royal Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1947, recorded on a board to the right of the entrance door.
The Victory Peal on 16 August 1945, which is detailed in stained glass in the north window.This is most unusual as there are only a handful of towers which contain such windows, but the fact that a second panel has been added for a 50th anniversary peal almost certainly make it unique.
The board just to the right of the entry door, which records two peals rung in 1993, the last one on the old bells and the first one on the new ring.
The board recording a peal to the right of the stained glass window, rung as a welcome to the present vicar, Anne Hollinghurst.
The pendulum of the church clock, which is just above the room, extends down almost to the floor of the Ringing Chamber and can be seen swinging in the cupboard opposite the entrance door. It is one of the longest pendulums in the country and is claimed to be the heaviest. Its period is 5 seconds - two and a half seconds each way.
History of the Bells
This ring of 10 bells were all cast in 1993 by the Whitechapel foundry in east London and the heaviest one (the tenor) weighs 24 cwt (2691 lb or 1220 kg). The previous set of bells was also a ring of ten with the heaviest one weighing approx 21.5 cwt. These comprised an original set of 8 cast by Richard Phelps in 1729, with two more added by John Briant, a local founder, in 1787. However, the 7th bell was recast in 1805 and the 4th in 1812, both by John Briant. The 8th and 9th bells (the 3rd and 2nd heaviest respectively) were recast by John Taylor of Loughborough in 1883, and finally the 5th was recast in 1887 by John Warner of Croydon.
The story of the Taylor recasting is intriguing and makes this tower unique in the ringing exercise. In 1868 a local ringer, John Lewis, gave two new trebles to form a "complete" ring of 12 bells here (there is a plaque to his memory aboive the shelf in the Ringing Chamber). In 1881 it was discovered that the 11th bell was cracked, so money was raised for its recasting, but when the bell hangers came to remove the bell they found that the 10th bell was also cracked. Lacking sufficient funds to recast this as well, the two treble bells installed in 1868 were sold back to the foundry to pay for the additional recasting. Tus St Peter's is the only tower in the world which once had an English-style ring of 12 bells, but now has a smaller ring.
In 1993, after a lengthy period of fund raising, the old mixed ring and ageing wooden frame were replaced by a modern , diatonically tuned ring in a new steel frame, with additional foundation girders. This work cost approximately £140,000 and has provided St Peter's with a ring of bells which, unlike its predecessor, is both pleasant to listen to and easy to ring, and hopefully it will last another 270 years or more.
The Roof affords splendid views of the whole of St Albans and its surrounds, and is said to be the highest point in the city. On Ascension day the whole choir climbs up here to sing early in the morning.
History of the Windows of Saint Peter, St Albans
Nothing remains of the original Saxon Church allegedly founded in 948 AD by Ulsinus, sixth Abbot of St Albans. Within 200 years it was rebuilt in Norman times. During the 13 th century part of the west end was rebuilt. From bequests in the 15 th century wills it is apparent that the church was altered and enlarged and the nave and the aisles were rebuilt. The church consisted of a nave with two aisles, two transepts, chancel and central tower. The south transept was probably the Lady Chapel.
In 1785 the old medieval tower became dangerous and was unsuccessfully underpinned with baulks of timber. In 1799 it had to be partly dismantled, and on 21st November 1801 the remainder of the Tower fell in. During the 1802-6 restoration a brick tower 67 feet high was built, the chancel was shortened by 30 feet, leaving only eight and a half feet, and the two transepts were demolished.
During 1893-95 Lord Grimthorpe partly extended the chancel again. He demolished the west front and the 15 th century north wall; extending the church four feet outwards and one bay westwards. He almost entirely rebuilt St Peter’s, except for the tower which he remodelled, the early perpendicular arcade of six bays, circa 1440, and the 15 th century wall east of the south doorway and the part immediately west of it.
Old sketches and photographs suggest that there were four windows in the south wall prior to 1803, five windows during 1803-6, and six windows since 1893. Among the wills of St Peter’s in 1473 there was a bequest for a window of St Albans . During the time of Oliver Cromwell a payment of five shillings was made “to the man who was sent throughout the country to take off Popish sentiments from the graves and windows.” During this time St Peter’s parishioners appear to have been staunchly Puritan. During the Civil War 1642-46, after the victory at Naseby in Northants in 1645, Cavalier prisoners on their way to London were lodged in the church. After a further victory at Colchester in August 1648 by Sir Thomas Fairfax for Cromwell, a multitude of prisoners were taken. They were marched westwards to be sold as slaves for the plantations of the West Indies , or for service in the continental armies. The direct route from Colchester to Bristol runs through St Albans and a number of prisoners were again confined in the church. An entry in the accounts reads: “Paid for taking down the windows and removing the things out of the church when the Colchester prisoners lay there, 4 shillings.”
In 1647 the Revd John Retchford was appointed Vicar of St Peter’s. He was an extreme man who destroyed some of the stained glass. Writing in the early 1800s John Meyrick describes some of the stained glass at St Peter’s:
“In the three eastern windows in both north and south aisles are remains of painted glass, principally in the upper compartments, but each of the middle division of the lower part is a piece in it…The upper compartments of all windows above mentioned have figures of angels and saints, some whole some defaced..” In 1728 N. Salmon recorded “a great deal of painted glass in the windows. In the north window St Peter with his keys twice; St Andrew at the West.”
By 1881 John Edwin Cussans recorded “In each of the five windows in the north aisle are fragments of old glass – in two comparatively perfect pictures remain. On both sides of three of the subjects are narrow borders charged with horseshoes.” The old glass was probably still in the three eastern-most windows of the south wall until 1867, when the first three Belgian windows by J.B.Capronnier were inserted.
In 1893-5 during the restoration of St Peter’s by Lord Grimthorpe he demolished the entire old north wall containing the ancient stained glass. In 1898 the Revd William Carey Morgan, curate of St Peter’s, stated that “the windows in the (new wall) north aisle contain what remains of the ancient glass. Heads, legs, buildings, armorial bearings and helmets are intermingled in hopeless confusion.”
During the 1939-45 war, to comply with black out precautions, Messrs Bushell were paid £90 to board up the windows and Fisk’s provided curtains for £30. In April 1978 vandals smashed holes in the two westernmost windows in the north and south walls, dated respectively 1935 and 1863. They were restored by Hooker Glass, Albion Works, St Albans at an estimated cost of £100.
Descriptions of the existing windows
Large, five cinquefoiled lights; rectilinear tracery with 31 lights; late Perpendicular; Gothic revival. Lord Grimthorpe lengthened the Chancel in 1893-95 and built a larger Perpendicular window than the original. Above was a long lobed, cusped trefoil window, which is now blocked and is only apparent from the exterior.
Canopied Saints and Christ in Majesty
All lights with elaborate triple, double tier canopies with ribbed vaults; flanking buttress borders with niches, descending to pedestals with triple cusped arches. The glass is predominantly white, with counterchange of colour of alternate red and blue above the canopies and below the arches of the pedestals, and an alternate blue and ruby diapered background behind the figures.
St Stephen. Nimbed (ie has a halo), wearing deacon’s robes; amice, ruby dalmatic with bell tassel hanging over the left shoulder, alb with apparel and stole; holding a book and a martyr’s palm. A curved white scroll above his head bears an inscription in black Gothic lettering which reads “S’tus Stephanus proto martyr” (St Stephen first martyr).
2nd from North Light
St Peter. Nimbed, wearing a blue robe and patterned white cloak, standing on a black and white tiled floor, holding a large key, bit upwards, and a miniature Saxon church. A curved white scroll above his head bears an inscription in black Gothic lettering which reads “S’tus Petrus principeps Apost:” (St Peter first Apostle).
Christ. Crowned, hand in benediction and holding an orb, wearing a ruby cope, yellow patterned tunicle and crossed stole, seated on a canopied, stepped throne which is on a green carpet. At the base is a heater-shaped shield with the pierced sacred Monogram I.H.C (the first three letters of the word “Jesus” in the Greek alphabet).
2nd from South Light
St Alban. Nimbed, wearing a small blue brimmed hat, a yellow black-patterned, fur hemmed three-quarter tunic, and yellow and white bordered clasped cloak, and green buttoned boots. He stands on a black and white tiled floor and holds a large sword, point downwards, and a martyr’s palm. A curved white scroll above his head bears the inscription in black Gothic lettering “S’tus Albanus protomart:Angliae (St Alban first martyr of the English).
South Light St Michael. Nimbed, wearing a coronet with pattee cross, late 15 th century mixed armour and a cloak. Peacock-eyed wings. He is piercing a red-winged dragon with the shaft of a crossed staff with a bannercharged with a Moline cross. A curved white scroll above his head bears the inscription in black Gothic: “S. Michael principeps Angelorum” (St Michael first of the Angels).
In the ten cinquefoil-headed panel traceries are white shields, six on blue and four on ruby backgrounds, each bearing an emblem of the Passion: in the head of the light, on the left, a yellow Greek cross; on the right a crown of thorns; below and to the left two scourges diagonally crossed on a pillar, the adjoining light having a lance crossed with a sponge on a reed; to the right of these a hammer crossed with pincers, and to the right again a seamless robe; in the line below, from left to right, a ladder, three nails, a bag of silver and three dice.
In each of the three large dagger-shaped lights is an angel. Each angel has a yellow nimbus and a circlet with trefoil cross, large elaborate yellow and white wings, hands raised palm outwards, and wears a white gown, the hem bordered with nebully, beneath descending graduated straight rays.Four large triangular lights each contain two vine leaves and one Tudor rose. Six smaller triangularlights have a linear pattern. Six lozenges.
At the base of the main south light in black Gothic with yellow decorated capitals and the date in Roman numerals, is an inscription which reads: “In piam memoriam Roberti Alfredi Squires huius Parochiae Vicarii mdcccxcv-mdccccx” (In pious memory of Robert Alfred Squires Vicar of this Parish 1895-1910).
Designer: W.E. Tower . His mark of a gold wheatsheaf containing a small black chess tower is to befound level with the foot in the border of the north light.
Executed: C.E. Kempe & Co, 28 Nottingham Place , London W1 in 1913. Donated by public subscription.
The choice of saints for the window refers to St Albans Abbey, and the three pilgrim churches founded in 948 by Abbot Ulsinus – St Peter’s to the north, St Michael’s to the west, and St Stephen’s to the south –built on roads leading to the Abbey containing the shrine of the saint.
St Alban – Feast day 22nd June. In the 3rd century of the Roman occupation of Britain , in the important Roman town of Verulamium , in the valley of the river Ver, during a Christian persecution Alban, a pagan, sheltered a Christian priest and was converted. He exchanged garments and was given a cross by the priest Amphibalus, who escaped. Alban was arrested in his stead. He refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods and renounce his Christianity. By order of the Roman governor he was imprisoned and for six months tortured until he was beheaded circa 209 AD. Remarkable signs from Heaven were recorded at his execution, and the eyes of his executioner reputedly dropped out. A shrine was built on Holmhirst Hill, the site of the decapitation, outside the walls of Verulamium. The Pope, Adrian I, canonised Alban, who became the first martyr in Britain , at the instigation of Offa, King of Mercia 756-796 AD. Offa renamed the town St Albans and founded the Benedictine monastery, which became an important ecclesiastical centre and place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages.
St Stephen – Feast day 26 th December. He was the first Christian martyr stoned to death outside the walls of Jerusalem circa 35 AD (Acts 7:60). He was also the first of the seven deacons named by the Apostles to look after Christians in Jerusalem .
St Peter – Feast day 29 th June. He was leader of the Apostles. Originally called Simon, Jesus gave him the Aramaic title of Kepha, meaning rock, which in Greek became Peter. He conferred on him “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:18 -19). He and his brother Andrew were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee . He was martyred in Rome under Nero circa 64 AD and was reputedly crucified head downwards.
St Michael – Feast day 29 th September. Archangel , leader of the Heavenly Host, protector of Christians and soldiers, and traditionally the receiver of the souls of the dead. Said to have engaged in combat with the dragon, representing evil – Revelation 12:7-9.
In 1881 John Edwin Cussans recorded stained glass by J.B. Capronnier of Brussels , Belgium in the four-light east window and the two three-light windows in the north and south walls of the shorter chancel, prior to the Grimthorpe alterations of 1893-95. there were also five large three-light windows in the south aisle, with Capronnier stained glass of the Parables.
Before the Revd Squires retired in 1910 he proposed a new scheme for decorating the chancel. At a meeting held on 18 May 1911 for the improvement of the east end, a new East window appeal was launched by the new Vicar, the Revd William Edward Chadwick (1910-1925). “Churches were visited in order to see and form a judgement upon work of different firms. We decided to entrust the work to Messrs C.E. Kempe & Co, who have executed many of the most beautiful windows which have been inserted in Cathedrals and Parish churches during recent years. A new design but not a new subject a little differently treated was chosen.” The cost of the new window was £350. The new window was subsequently dedicated to the Revd Squires by Bishop Edgar Jacob (1903-1920) on 2 nd November 1913. The two lancet windows in the south wall were dedicated to his wife, Jessie Ethel Squires.
The Revd Robert Alfred Squires M.A. was Vicar 1895-1910 and installed April 1895 – the Patron is the Crown. He studied at St John’s College , Cambridge . Made Deacon in 1870 in Canterbury . Was in India for many years between 1870-1891 in the State of Bombay. 1870-1877 Missionary at Nasik . 1882-84 Principal of the Divinity School , Poona . 1889-1891 Incumbent of Girganum Church , Bombay . A Fellow of Bombay University . 1892-95 Curate, Holy Trinity, Tunbridge Wells. 1907 Rural dean of St Albans . Died 21 August 1912.
Charles Eamer Kempe 1837-1907. Born 29 June 1837 in Ovingdeane , Sussex , the youngest son of Nathaniel Kemp and Augusta Caroline, daughter of Sir John Eamer. Educated Rugby School , Pembroke College , Oxford . Honorary Fellow. Intended for the priesthood but prevented by a speech defect. In 1862 was associated with G.F. Bodley, architect and designer. He also worked with William Morris and his associates. He founded his own stained glass firm. The majority of the firm’s windows are signed with the maker’s mark, a wheatsheaf or garb, a single charge from the family arms, or sometimes with the full arms: gules three garbs or within a border engrailed of the last charged with eight hurts. He took into partnership his nephew W.E. Tower . The firm rose to prominence in the late 1870s. Kempe owned 200 acres at Old Place , Lindfield , Sussex . He died 20 April 1907. There is a memorial window to Kempe, with three of his small panels from his house, donated in 1973 by his daughter Celia and W.E. Tower , in St Mary, Petworth , Sussex .
Walter Ernest Tower 1873-1955. Joined his uncle and took over the firm on his death in 1907. The Kempe wheatsheaf mark was retained, but with a single battlemented tower with a portway at the base, super-imposed in the centre; a rebus on Tower’s name. Usually placed in the borders. Peacock feathers were part of the William Morris movement, and Kempe’s angels frequently had wings with peacocks’ eyes – suggesting the eyes within and the eyes without. This influence is also in Tower’s designs, q.v. St Michael, south light. There are three other windows by Tower in St Peter – a pair of single lights in the north wall of the Chancel, St Monica and St Hilda, and a single light in the west wall of the south aisle, St Christopher. All were executed in 1915.
Window – Chancel, South Wall, East
A small, single lancet, Gothic Revival, window east one of a pair. Lord Grimthorpe lengthened the Chancel in 1893-95 and built a pair of single lights with plain glass in the south wall.
Canopied Apostle – St John the Evangelist
The barefooted figure with yellow nimbus, wearing a ruby mantle and a green robe, holding an open book and a quill, stands under a triple canopy against blue sky, with a yellow and white patterned fringe hanging behind and below his shoulders. The receding blue and black tiled floor of the pedestal on which he stands has three trefoiled arches below. Under the larger central arch a straight white scroll with an eagle, and a winged dragon emerging from a chalice, within each end of the scroll, which bears the inscription “ S. Iohannes ” in black Gothic lettering. The two small minstrel angels, east with cymbals, west with a trumpet, kneel on brackets at the top of each flanking descending column. There are outer pinnacled borders.
Designer – H.J. Salisbury. His mark is a miniature below bearing the inscription, in black capitals, “London H.J. Salisbury St Albans”, and is placed on the west border level with the book. Executed 1913. Studio and Works: 50 Alma Road , St Albans . Donated by friends of Jessie Squires, widow of the Revd R.A. Squires, together with the window in the Chancel, South Wall, west – both dedicated on 2 November 1913 by Bishop Edgar Jacob on the same occasion that he dedicated the East window.
Window – Chancel, South Wall, West
A small, single lancet, Gothic Revival, window west, one of a pair.
Canopied Apostle – St Paul
The barefooted figure with yellow nimbus, wearing a green mantle and a ruby robe, holding a brass bound and clasped book and a large sword, point downwards, stands under a triple canopy against blue sky, with a yellow and white patterned fringed hanging behind and below his shoulders. The receding blue and black tiled floor of the pedestal on which he stands has three trefoiled arches below. Under the larger central arch a staright white scroll with a small fleury cross within each end of the scroll, which bears the inscription “S. Paulus” in black Gothic cymbals, west with a lyre, kneel on brackets at the top of each flanking descending column. There are outer pinnacled borders.
Designer – H.J. Salisbury but no mark.
In 1906 Salisbury had repaired St Peter’s Chancel windows for £6. Before the Revd Squires retired in 1910 he proposed an improvement to the Chancel. As requested, Salisbury submitted a complete scheme for the decoration of the Chancel, including stained glass windows, panelled ceiling, reredos and communion table. However, only two of his window designs were subsequently realised at a cost of £40 each. The saints in the windows represent the two daughter churches.
St John , Old London Road , St Albans . Dedicated 15 March 1911, demolished 1955. There are two stained glass panels by Francis Skeat, removed from that church and placed in St peter’s in a window in the north aisle wall, west.
St Paul , Hatfield Road , St Albans . J.E.K. & M.P. Cutts, 14 Southampton Street , Strand , London were appointed architects in February 1908. they designed a modest brick Perpendicular church. The foundation stone was laid 24 June 1909. erected 1910, cost £8,000.
Henry James Salisbury died 1916. Artist in stained glass and decoration. Mural Painting. Memorial Brasses. Office and Showrooms 18 John street, Bedford Row, London WC. Studio & Works 50 Alma Road , St Albans . Circa 1899 went into partnership, Salisbury Bros & Davies, with showrooms at 130 Brompton Road , London . Eldest son of Susan and Henry Salisbury, builder, of Arndene, Arden Grove, Harpenden. His mother was the sister of Cecil Hawes, one of the partners of Hawes & Harris, glaziers in Harpenden. Brother of Frank Owen Salisbury (1874-1962), painter of portraits and historical pageants. In 1918 he painted “The Passing of Queen Eleanor”, wife of Edward I, whose bier had rested in St Albans on its way to London . The painting hung in the south transept of the Abbey until it was stolen in 1973. Frank had been apprenticed to his elder brother Henry’s stained glass studio. He designed the east and west windows of St John’s Methodist Church in Harpenden, which were executed by Hawes & Harris. The eats window is a memorial to his parents and two brothers. Henry designed two pairs of small single lancets on the north and south walls of the chancel of St Mary, Childwick Green, near St Albans . The three Virtues, faith, Hope and Charity, and a decorative panel window, memorial to H.J. Toulmin and his wife, Emma Louisa. He owned Childwickbury Manor and estate, and was four times Mayor of St Albans. Salisbury ’s elaborate stained glass mark represents St Albans Abbey and the three churches built on the site of Alban’s execution, circa 209 AD; a small simple church built in the 3 rd century, the Saxon monastic church built circa 795 by Offa, King of the Mercians, and the Norman Church, built 1077-1088 by the first Norman Abbot, Paul de Caen. This was subsequently enlarged through the centuries and became a cathedral in 1877.
Window – Chancel, South Wall, West
A large three-light window, Gothic Revival, decorated, with geometrical traceries. The lower part of the window is blocked. The top of the two outer lights are raised cinquefoiled heads and the centre light lower trefoiled head.
In the tracery lights there is a large encircled octofoil in the head of the arch and two small flanking triangular lights below. All plain quarries. The window was built by Lord Grimthorpe between 1893-95, replacing a three light simple Perpendicular window which was a replica of the 15 th century windows in the south aisle in the wall, built across the entrance to the old south transept, demolished in the 1802-06 alterations. Cussans records that in 1881 the window contained an Ascension by J.B. Capronnier. This glas may have been transferred to a similar window in the south aisle, south wall, west when built by Lord Grimthorpe.
Window – Lady Chapel, South Aisle, East Upper Wall
A large spherical triangle under a hood mould, Gothic Revival. Clear bright colour. It is divided into four parts. A central inverted triangle contains a standing barefooted angel in a white tunic, with outstretched arms and lilac wings on a ruby background with arabesques of white thorn and flowers. There are three flanking spherical triangles, each containing an irregular elongated quatrefoil with an outer beaded border and blue ground with arabesques of white thorn and flowers. The quatrefoil in the head contains a central curving white scroll bearing an inscription in Black roman which reads “of His Kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33 ).
Designer – Christopher R. Webb (1886-1966) whose signature appears in the south quatrefoil at the base south, in capital letters: Christopher Webb St Albans 1952 Pinxit Martin Webb. Studio: Orchard House, Holywell Hill, St Albans ,
Executed 1952. Glass painter Martin Webb. Messrs Hawes & Harris, Leyton Road , Harpenden, Herts (defunct).
The work is also identifiable by his characteristic style which had a pronounced influence on the work of his pupil, Francis Skeat, and his son, Martin Webb. The latter had designed and executed in 1951 a small panel, a Memorial to a World War 2 Victory peal, in the window of the north wall of the Ringing Chamber in the Tower.
Christopher Rehare Webb the third son of Edward Alfred and Emily Webb of Chislehurst , Kent , born 5 February 1886. he owes his unusual middle name to the fact that his father, a churchwarden at the hospital church of St Bartholomew, Smithfield, London, and his uncle, Sir Aston Webb, architect, were then engaged in the restoration of that church. The name of the founder and first Prior of the 12 th century Augustinian hospital was Rahere. Educated at Rugby . 1904 Slade School of Fine Art, London where he trained under Professor Henry Tonks and Philip Wilson Steer. On 26 January 1909 he was articled to Sir John Ninian Comper (as his brother was). In 1914 he joined the Artist’s Rifles and served in France . After the war he formed a long association with William Randoll Blacking, architect, who was also a pupil of Comper. He followed his brother Geoffrey into designing stained glass. He set up his first studio in east Grinstead. In 1926 he married Mary Curtis and settled in London Road , St Albans . In 1930 a new studio was designed and built, with Percival C. Blow as architect, on ground which belonged to Humphrey H. King, who was married to Christopher’s sister. This was the Orchard House Studio, Holywell Hill, St Albans . In November 1936 he became adviser to the Dean and Chapter of St Albans Abbey where there are five windows designed by Webb. He died in St Albans aged 80 on 15 September 1966. In the early days he signed his windows with full name and St Albans and the year. Later his signature flanked a rebus, St Christopher holding a budding staff and carrying the Christ Child on his shoulder. Frequently the windows were also signed with the names of the glass painters of the window. Frank A, Pinnock joined Webb in 1929 and retired in 1964. He painted flesh and figures. Thomas Walden joined Webb circa 1942 and worked with him until the late 1950s. He painted backgrounds.
Window – Lady Chapel, South Aisle, South wall east. A large simple Perpendicular window with three cinque-foiled lights and rectilinear tracery containing sixlights. This is one of the remaining three 15 th century windows. The stonework is much restored.
Canopied Subject window.
Parable. Base panels. The design overlaps from the centre light into the west light. The colours are strong primaries, predominantly blue and ruby. In each light there is a very narrow outer beaded border, and an inner border of pinnacles on the east and west sides only of the outer lights, and a bright blue diapered background under each canopy.
East Light. Under a canopy a landscape of a tree and rocks and the backview of a High priest and a Levite passing on the road.
Base Panel. Flanking pinnacle borders, a pointed cinquefoiled arch and, below, a central pattern of foliage and flowers on a ruby background.
Centre Light. Under a canopy a kneeling Samaritan, wearing turban and cloak, is holding up a bottle to pour oil and wine on to the wounds of a man whose bare legs overlap from the west light. There is a mule in the background.
Base Panel. Flanking pinnacle borders and a ruby and green diapered background on which is a bordered ellipse containing a truncated angel who is holding, in both hands, a white scroll with the text in Gothic lettering “Take care of him” (Luke 10:35).
West Light. Under a canopy a landscape of rocks and trees with the upper part of the body of a wounded man lying on the rocks.
Base Panel. Similar to that in the east light.
Tracery Lights. There are four cinquefoil-headed panel traceries with narrow beaded borders and alternating ruby and blue backgrounds. The two centre panels each containstars in the cusped head and a standing angel, the one on the east with crossed arms, the one on the west with his right hand on his breast. The two flanking panels are of stylised foliage and flowers. There are two small outer triangular lights with florets.
Designer – J.B. Capronnier. In the east base of the east light in italic and Arab numerals is the inscription “J.B. Capronnier Bruxellensis Fecit 1867.”
Donors: Martha Bennett and her children. She died 15 May 1876 aged 64 years. Her husband died aged 62. he and his wife and eldest son, William, are buried in a large grey mottled marble chest tomb outside in the churchyard immediately below this window. The Chi Rho monogram to be seen on the memorial below the window is repeated on the lid of the tomb. There are six windows by Capronnier. The three Parable windows, east of the south door, cost £400 and were executed and installed in their present position in 1867. the stonework was restored by Mr. Hazelgrove. These three windows cost £45 to be re-leaded in 1907. the old glass in this window, prior to 1867 when the Capronnier glass was inserted, was described by N. Salmon in 1728 in “History of Hertfordshire” p. 90 and is also recorded by J. Meyrick circa 1801-2: “On the South side the most eastern window has some figures partly broken but it seems a distribution of bread. One figure seems coming with a basket of loaves on his shoulder, some of the others have them in their hands.” A few identified fragments of the old window remain in the panel of assembled fragments in the centre light of the window in the north wall of the north aisle, third from the east.
Window – South Aisle, South wall, second from East
A large simple Perpendicular window with three cinquefoiled lights and rectilinear tracery containing six lights, which is one of the remaining 15 th century windows. The stonework is much restored.
Canopied Subject Window – Parable of the Good Shepherd
Base panels. There are brilliant colours throughout, ruby, green and lilac. In each light there is a very narrow outer beaded border, and in the cusped head above the canopy, which is formed of stylised acanthus leaves and flanked by pinnacles, are twining green vine leaves on a foliated blue background.
East light. Under the canopy is a shepherd in a short brown tunic holding a lamb. The flock and a ram are in the foreground.
Base panel. Flanking pinnacle borders and in the centre a vine with grapes on a blue background.
Centre Light. Under the canopy Christ nimbed, with hands outstretched to a lamb in the foreground.
Base panel. Flanking pinnacle borders and a ruby and green diapered background, on which is a bordered ellipse containing a truncated angel who is holding in both hands a white scroll with the text in Gothic lettering, “I am the good Shepherd and know my sheep and am known of mine” (St John 10:14).
West light. Under the canopy the back of a fleeing hireling in a green tunic, with a horn and water bottle hanging from his belt. There is a flock of sheep and a lamb and in the foreground a wolf attacking a sheep which is on the ground.
Base panel. Similar to that in the east light.
Tracery lights. There are four cinquefoil-headed panel traceries with narrow beaded borders and alternating ruby and blue backgrounds. The two centre panels each contain stars in the cusped head and a standing minstrel angel, the one on the east with a trumpet, and on the west with a lute. The two flanking panels contain vine leaves. There are two small outer triangular lights with florets.
Designer: “J.B. Capronnier Bruxellensis Fecit 1867”. The old glass in this window was described by N. salmon in 1728 and also recorded by J. Meyrick circa 1801-2: “In the window is what Salmon describes as the murder of King of the East Angles, but if he had inspected it closer he would have found it to be that of Amphibalus.”
Window South Aisle, South wall, 3rd from East
A large simple Perpendicular window with three cinquefoiled lights and rectilinear tracery containing six lights, which is one of the remaining 15 th century windows. The stonework is much restored.
Canopied Subject Window – Parable of the Prodigal Son
Base panels. The design overlaps the lights, and the colours are brilliant blue, ruby and brown. In each light there is a very narrow outer beaded border, and an inner border of pinnacles on the east and west sides only of the outer lights, and a bright blue diapered background under each canopy.
East Light. Under the canopy stand a female and a male servant, who holds a knife; there is a calf, a wooden bucket and the foot of the son overlaps from the centre light.
Base panel. Flanking pinnacle borders with a pointed cinquefoiled arch and below it a central pattern of foliage and flowers on a ruby background.
Centre light. Under the canopy, with an arcade in the background, standing on a step, is the father in a ruby tunic. The youngest son, in a brown tunic with a leather water
bottle hanging from his belt, is kneeling. The head and foot of a dog overlap from the west light.
Base panel. Flanking pinnacle borders and a ruby and green diapered background on which is a bordered ellipse containing a truncated angel who is holding in both hands a white scroll with the text in Gothic lettering, “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him” (Luke 15:22).
West light. Under the canopy the arcade from the centre light continues in the background. The eldest son is standing holding a spade, wearing a purple banded tunic, green sash and sandals, and in the foreground the hindquarters of the dog overlap from the centre light.
Base panel. Similar to that in the east light.
Tracery lights. There are four cinquefoil-headed panel traceries with narrow beaded borders and alternating ruby and blue backgrounds. The two centre panels each contain stars in the cusped head and a standing angel, the one on the east with crossed arms, and on the west with hands in an attitude of prayer. The two flanking panels are of stylised foliage and flowers. There are two small outer triangular lights with florets.
Designer: In the east base of the east light in italic and Arab numerals is the inscription “J.B. Capronnier Bruxellensis fecit 1867.” The old glass in this window was described by J. Meyrick circa 1801-2: “The other window on the south side represents burning a heretic and heretical books, but the particulars of the representation is unclear. No identifiable fragments of the old window remain.
Window South Aisle, South wall 3rd from West
A large simple Perpendicular window with three cinquefoiled lights and rectilinear tracery containing six lights.
Canopied Subject Window – Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard
Base panels. The design overlaps the lights, the colours being predominantly brown and lilac. In each light is a very narrow outer beaded border. In the cusped head above each canopy, which is formed of stylised acanthus leaves and flanked by pinnacles, are twining green vine leaves on a foliated blue ground. An inner border of double descending foliated shafts is on the east and west sides only of the outer lights. Under each canopy is a ruby diapered background.
East Light. Under the canopy two labourers are standing, a third is sitting, his legs overlapping into the centre light.
Base panel. Flanking pinnacle borders, a pair of contiguous cusped arches below which are vine leaves and grapes against a blue background.
Centre light. Under the canopy is a lord pointing and wearing a white, blue patterned mantle and purple robe. The legs and feet of the seated labourer overlap from the east light.
Base panel. Flanking pinnacle borders and a blue background on which is a bordered ellipse containing a truncated angel, holding in both hands a white scroll, with the text in Gothic lettering “Go ye also into the vineyard” (Matthew 20:7).
West light. Under the canopy, in a vineyard, two labourers are picking grapes, one with a basket. In the foreground are a pitcher, a basket, a blue bundle and a spade on the ground.
Base panel. Similar to that in the east light.
Tracery lights. There are four cinquefoil-headed panel traceries with narrow beaded borders and alternating ruby and blue backgrounds. The two centre panels each contain stars in the cusped head and a standing angel with crossed arms. The two flanking panels contain vine leaves. There are two small outer triangular lights with florets.
Designer: J.B. Capronnier. In the east base of the east light in Italic and Arab numerals is the inscription “J.B. Capronnier Bruxellensis Fecit 1872.”
The angel in the base panel of the centre light of this Capronnier window is represented on one of the hassocks in the church, worked by members of the congregation and designed by Miss Nevell. The project to provide hassocks was commenced in 1964. There is a memorial brass plaque to Eleanor Florence May Nevell on the panelling of the south wall of the Chancel. She died aged 83 and her ashes were buried in the Garden of Rest October 14, 1976.
Window South Aisle, South wall 2nd from West
A large window of three cinquefoiled lights with rectilinear tracery containing six lights. It is a replica of the three light 15 th century simple Perpendicular windows in the south wall.
Canopied Subject Window – Parable of the Sower
Base panels. The colours are brilliant and predominantly blue, ruby and lilac. In each light there is a very narrow outer beaded border and an inner border of pinnacles on the east and west sides only of the outer lights, and a bright blue diapered background under each canopy.
East light. Under the canopy three Apostles stand facing towards the centre light.
Base panel. Flanking pinnacle borders and a pointed cinquefoiled arch with below it a central pattern of foliage and flowers against a ruby background.
Centre light. Under the canopy is Christ with a pattee adorned nimbus, wearing a white robe and a ruby cloak. Behind Him is a head, probably another Apostle.
Base panel. Flanking pinnacle borders and a diapered background on which is a bordered ellipse containing a truncated angel holding in both hands a white scroll with the text in Gothic lettering “The sower soweth the word” (Mark 4:14).
West light. Under the canopy the sower is in the field, two birds are pecking seed, and in the foreground are rocks and ivy.
Base panel. Similar to that in the east light.
Tracery lights. There are four cinquefoil-headed panel traceries with narrow beaded borders and alternating ruby and blue backgrounds. The two centre panels each contain stars in the cusped head and a standing angel, the one on the east with right hand on breast, the one on the west with the hands in an attitude of prayer. The two flanking panels contain stylised flowers and foliage. There are two small outer triangular lights with florets.
Designer: J.B. Capronnier. In the east base of the east light in Italic and Arab numerals is the inscription: “J.B. Capronnier Bruxellensis Fecit 1872.”
Window South aisle, South Wall, West
A large three cinquefoiled-light window with rectilinear tracery containing six lights. When Lord Grimthorpe extended the church by one bay to the west between 1893-1895 he built a replica of the 15 th century three-light Perpendicular widows in the South wall.
Canopied Subject window – The Ascension
Base panels. The colours are brilliant primaries of yellow, blue and ruby. There is a very narrow outer beaded border on both sides of the two outer lights which also have elaborate double canopies with green diapered backgrounds below. The centre light has a single canopy with a magenta diapered background below. There is an iner
border of descending shafts on both sides of the outer lights, but none in the centre light.
East light. Under the canopies are three standing Apostles facing towards the centre light, and the lower part of a kneeling Apostle which overlaps from the centre light.
Base panel. Flanking pinnacle borders and a pair of contiguous cusped arches with stylised flowers and foliage under each.
Centre light. Under the canopy are descending radiating gold rays, four standing Apostles and the tonsured head and upper part of a kneeling praying figure which overlaps in to the east light. In the foreground is the kneeling Christ (?) in a ruby robe and patterned mantle, with arms upraised.
Base panel. Flanking pinnacle borders and a bordered ellipse containing a truncated angel holding in both hands a white scroll with the inscription in Gothic: “Acts chapter i verse ii.”
West light. Under the canopies are two standing and one kneeling Apostle.
Base panel. Similar to that in the east light.
Tracery lights. There are four cinquefoil-headed panel traceries with narrow beaded borders and alternating ruby and blue backgrounds. The two centre panels each contain stars in the cusped head and a standing angel. The two flanking panels contain stylised flowers and foliage. There are two small outer triangular lights with florets.
Designer: In the east base of the east light is the inscription in Roman majs with Arab
Numerals: “J.B. Capronnier, Bruxellensis fecit 1863.” Below this, along the base of the three lights on a red band in Gothic lettering is the text: “this same JESUS shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).”
There are six Belgian windows in the south wall. They appear similar in the design of the framework but have many small variations. This window is the earliest. The angel in the base panel, centre light, is different in style from the angels in the other later base panels. Prior to Lord Grimthorpe’s restoration Cussans recorded in 1881 three Capronnier windows in the old shorter Chancel, a four-light East window and two three-light windows. An Ascension was in a three-light simple Perpendicular window in the south wall of the Chancel, built across the entrance to the old south transept which was demolished in the 1802-06 alterations. When Lord Grimthorpe altered and enlarged that window to the decorated style, the glass may have been removed here to his new replica of a similar three-light window. On 17 April 1978 this window was vandalised. A brick broke a large hole immediately above the base panel of the centre light. Restoration 1979-80 Hooker Glass, Albion Works, Albion Road , St Albans .
Jean Baptiste Capronnier 1814-1891. He was born in Paris, the son of Francois Capronnier, a glass painter in Brussels , who was born at Chantilly in 1789 and died in Brussels in 1853. Jean Baptiste exhibited windows in the Renaissance style at the Paris Exhibition in 1855 and gained a second class medal, the only one awarded to glass painters. He did important glass restorations in Belgium at Liege , Tournai and in the cathedral of Anvers . He worked abroad in Italy and England . He died in 1891 at Brussels – Schaerbeek , Belgium . The firm’s windows were usually signed and dated. There are three windows, including an east window, in Holy Trinity Church , Skipton, Yorkshire dated 1869, 1870 and 1873. The latter window is very similar in style and colour, with an identical design of base panel, as the two windows in St Peter’s dated 1872.
The Incumbent at this time, the Revd Horatio Nelson Dudding (1842-1895) jointly held the record for tenure of living – 53 years as Vicar of St Peter’s in 59 years of Ministry. He died 8 th February 1895 and is buried in the churchyard. He frequently visited Belgium . The pulpit executed by J.A. Goyers, Louvain , just north east of Brussels , is also dated 1863.
Window South Aisle, West Wall
A tall, wide, single pointed arched window. Gothic Revival. Lord Grimthorpe extended the church between 1893-95, demolishing the old west front and replacing the three-light simple Perpendicular window with a single plain glass light.
Canopied St Christopher. Base panel. Predominantly white glass highlights the head of the saint and the Infant Christ. There is an outer border of stylised leaf design and inner flanking shaft borders descending to a hexagonal Gothic base. In the main light the background consists of a landscape of trees and a Gothic castle with a portcullis. St Christopher with a ruby nimbus and holding a large budding staff has his feet in the river and carries the nimbed Infant Christ on his shoulder. There is a riverbank in the foreground. In the base panel there is a crested and cusped triple arcade with descending shafts to a hexagonal base which has a red and black receding tiled floor. A central tower bears a white tablet with the text in Gothic lettering: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee (psalm 84:5).” A dedication in the north base, on a white ground, in Gothic lettering reads: “To the glory of God and in memory of David Edwin Christopher Legg 1911-1914.” There is a further dedication on a Wall Tablet.
Designer: W.E. Tower . His mark of a gold wheatsheaf containing a small black chess tower is to be found on the south border at the base of the staff.
Executed 1915 by Messrs C.E. Kempe & Co., 28 Nottingham Place , London W1.
Faculty dated 24 th July 1914 granted to the Rev. W.E. Chadwick (1910-25) to take out plain glass and replace with stained glass in accordance with designs.
Window Nave, West Wall
A large rose window. Septemfoliate. Gothic Revival. An encircling outer roll moulding bears the Latin inscription in Roman lettering: “Templum hoc restituit cathedrae renovator et auxit 1895” (Restorer of cathedral rebuilt and extended this church 1895.) Lord Grimthorpe had restored St Albans Cathedral 1880-93. He extended the nave of St Peter by demolishing the old West front with its four-light simple Perpendicular window above a 13 th century west door. He replaced it with a large rose window, flanked by hexagonal turrets on the exterior, very similar to the West front he built at the Abbey.
Central Roundel. Encircled by a yellow twisted cable and an inner ruby border. The inner background is of scattered flowers – daffodils, thistles and roses. In the centre eye a round lobed septfoil containing an interior scene, the Annunciation. A yellow disc bears the word “zeus” (God) and in the background is a vase of lilies. The nimbed Virgin, with golden hair, in a white robe and blue bordered cloak, is kneeling at a prie-dieu with an open book. The nimbed angel Gabriel with yellow wings, in a white robe and ruby cope, is kneeling holding a floriated sceptre and a white scroll with the text in Gothic (some letters missing): “Ave gra(tia) plena (dominus tecum)” (Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee – Luke 1:58) The foreground is a black and yellow tiled floor.
Seven cusped pointed lobes radiating from the central eye each contain, in their centre, a bordered medallion with a scene from the Old Testament, surrounded by a ground of arabesques of vine leaves and odd fragments of older glass from past restorations, including part of two straight-rayed suns and a decorated Lombardic O surmounted by a crown in white and yellow stain.
Medallions – starting at top centre and reading clockwise
Moses triumphs over the Amaleks (Exodus 17:8-12). Moses is seated, his raised arms holding the rod of God. One arm is supported by Aaron, his elder brother, wearing ecclesiastical vestments and a mitre. As high priest of the Israelites he prefigures Christian priesthood. The other arm is supported by Hur, his brother-in-law, who opposed the making of the golden calf.
Threshing floor of Araunah (2 Samuel 24:18-25). King David is kneeling before a stone altar of burnt offering with a flame, with a landscape in the background and the gabled end of an open barn filled with wheat and barley sheaves, and a flail. He gives thanks for the deliverance of Israel from the plague.
Angel wrestling with Jacob (Genesis 32:22-32). An angel standing in the brook of Jabok with an arm outstretched to the kneeling Jacob who wears a short ruby tunic; the background contains a landscape and trees. Prefigures the Christian struggle on earth.
Sacrifice of Noah (Genesis 8:20 -22). Noah is standing, looking upwards, before a stone altar of burnt offering with flame. His sons, Ham, Shem and Japheth, are kneeling on the shore. In the background an ark and a flood.
Unidentified. A king kneeling before a horned golden altar, with a central; swag and red flames above.
Unidentified. A nimbed male figure, gazing up to heaven with upraised arms, standing before a stone altar of burnt offering with a flame and a wooded landscape in the background.
David cut off Saul’s robe (?) 1 Samuel 24:4-6. David is fleeing with part of Saul’s robe, who is sleeping at the base of a stone altar of burnt offering with flame; a wooded landscape in the background.
There are seven pointed lozenge lights, with an inner geometric lozenge pattern; fourteen outer cusped semi-circles, each with half a quatrefoil containing more fragments of old glass, and a central floret. An outer border with stylised leaf pattern.
Lord Grimthorpe was an amateur architect, both secular and ecclesiastical. He was a friend of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Architect, with whom he worked. The latter had commenced the restoration of St Albans Cathedral 1860-1, which was continued by a committee until the funds were exhausted. Lord Grimthorpe obtained a faculty in 1880 and continued to restore the Abbey 1880-93, many parts of it at his own expense, estimated at £130,000, despite the greatest opposition and criticism – “Anything more miserable difficult to find.” (ref “Works at St Albans Abbey”, Builder Nov 7 th 1885 p 660). Also, despite much controversy, when restoring St Michael, St Albans he demolished the old west front with its medieval tower, which he rebuilt in 1898. Faculty March 30 th 1893 To Lord Grimthorpe to repair, restore and enlarge St Peter on his own terms including “all decayed windows to be rebuilt”. Subsequently he built all new windows with plain glazing, with the exception of the original 15 th century Perpendicular windows in the south wall, east, which are much restored. Lord Grimthorpe had decided views about the designs of windows and was against filling west windows, in particular, with coloured glass, as he considered light from that quarter valuable. At a PCC meeting on 14 th July 1921 it was suggested that the plain glass in the nave west window should be replaced with tinted glass. H.J. Salisbury was asked to estimate, but the request remained unanswered. It was to be paid for by the Grimthorpe Bequest. There is a photograph showing the rose window with stained glass in an old church guide by C.E. Jones 1938 indicating that the glass must have been inserted in the years 1921-38. The Minute Book for these years is missing. Faculty Sept 26 th 1922 Granted to the Rev W.E. Chadwick “for insertion of stained glass in the West window in accordance with the design and scheme of Messrs Burlison and Grylls.”
Lord Grimthorpe lengthened the nave one bay westward. He demolished the west front containing one four-light window flanked by two three-light simple Perpendicular windows facing the aisles, replacing them with a large rose window and two lancets, all with plain glass. The north wall of the north aisle was completely demolished and extended four feet outwards. Six decorated windows, each with different traceries, replaced the five 15 th century windows. The chancel was lengthened, a larger five-light Perpendicular east window replacing a four-light window, and a pair of lancets with plain glass were built in the north and south walls. The old vestry on the north side was demolished and two new vestries built against to tower and chancel on the south side. The tower was remodelled with four angle pinnacles added. John Briant’s 1805 clock was redesigned by Lord Grimthorpe in 1878. John Godman of St Albans halved the size of the clock and added the Grimthorpe escapement, similar to that of Big Ben.
A memorial wall plaque in the Chancel, north wall, west, dated Friday, October 4 th 1895 states that St. Peter’s was reopened on that date and the service, held by the Rev. R.A. squires, was attended by the Mayor and Corporation, and the lesson was read by Lord Grimthorpe, who left a bequest of £4,000 to St. Peter’s parish. He wrote in the Parish magazine: “You will see in my Will some day that I have not forgotten St Peter’s either inside or out.”
Sir Edmund Beckett , 5 th Baronet 1816-1905. Born May 12 th 1816 at Carlton Hall, Newark , eldest son of Sir Edmund Beckett. Educated Doncaster Grammar School ; Eton ; Trinity College , Cambridge . 1841 called to the Bar at Lincoln ’s Inn . 7 th October 1845 married Fanny Catherine (died 1901), daughter of Dr. John Lonsdale, Bishop of Lichfield. No issue. 1854 became Q.C. May 24 th 1872 succeeded to the baronetcy on his father’s death. 1874-6 bought Batchwood Estate, St Albans . Designed and built Batchwood Hall. February 17 th 1886 created peer, Baron Grimthorpe of Grimthorpe, Yorkshire . April 29 th 1905 died at Batchwood and interred with his wife in the north west burial ground of the Abbey. He was President of the British Horological Institute and designed the great clock for the International Exhibition in 1851, which is now at King’s Cross Station, London . He also designed the clock known as Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament. Westminster .
Window North Aisle West Wall
A tall, wide, single pointed-arch window. Gothic Revival. In 1893-5 Lord Grimthorpe extended the Church, demolished the old west front, replacing the three-light simple Perpendicular window with this single plain glass light.
Window North Aisle, North Wall, West
A large window with three lights and five tracery lights. Gothic Revival. Decorated. The centre light with a raised cinquefoiled head has plain quarries. The two outer lights with trefoiled heads also have plain quarries but the base of each contains a pointed-arched figure panel with a narrow outer yellow border and an inner wider, alternate green and purple clock and leaf border.
West Light – The Good Shepherd
The panel background has a grisaille stylise pattern and, in the centre, a wreath of bay leaves interrupted by rosettes containing a treed landscape. A larger, superimposed figure of the nimbed Christ with a lamb round his shoulders, holding a crook, wearing a lilac cloak, white tunic and belt, with dependant end, is standing on a bracketed base, which is over a red shield with a white Chi Rho monogram.
Designer: Francis W. Skeat. His mark, at the base of the east border, is a hart lodged at gaze in a small shield within a larger shield with walled top and alternate horizontal sections.
East Light – St John the Baptist
The panel background is grisaille, patterned with locusts, bees, shells and two short swords, pointing upwards. In the centre, a laurel wreath, interrupted by rosettes, contains a landscape of a hill and water, possibly the River Jordan, lapping stones in the foreground. A larger, superimposed figure of St John , holding a reed cross, one arm raised, with a rayed nimbus, wearing a blue and green lined cloak and yellow loincloth and girdle, is standing on a bracketed base, which is over a red shield bearing the Agnus Dei.
Designer: Francis W. Skeat. His mark at the base of the east border is a tiny scrolled shield with a hart statant.
Executed 1934 (both panels) by Messrs Hawes & Harris, Leyton Road , Harpenden, Herts (Defunct). C. Webb paid for the glazing. There is another mark. The sword on the west side has a flanking monogram of script initials. Unidentified.
Tracery Lights. Three large irregular quatrefoils, flanked by two small triangular lights.
Skeat had previously only designed two small secular panels and this was the first church window that he designed and painted. The Good Shepherd was the first panel. He was a member of the congregation of St John’s , Old London Road , St Albans , a daughter church of St Peter ’s. He had presented these two figure panels to that church, where they were placed in two small west windows by the font. St John’s was demolished in 1955. A Faculty in 1954 shows a cost of six guineas to remove and transfer the panels, partly paid for from the Grimthorpe Endowment Fund. Skeat believed that C. Webb may have been responsible for the panels being removed to St Peter’s, also that the head of Christ had been repainted, as it is not the same as in his original cartoon. Also in 1955 the font in St Peter’s was moved from the west end of the south aisle to a position near Skeat’s windows. The window was vandalised on 17 April 1978. Despite an exterior wire grid the shield with the sacred monogram in the west light was smashed. Restored and inserted in 1779-80 Hooker Glass, Albion Works, Albion Road , St Albans .
Francis Walter Skeat. Born 1909 in St Albans . His mother, Theodora, had a studio for embroidery in Chester . His grandfather, the Revd Professor Walter Skeat, compiled the Etymological Dictionary of English language. He was educated at Lyndale School and Whitgift School , Croydon. In 1927 he was articled to Harry Scott, Bridgwater, a mezzotint engraver. Exhibited at the Paris salon in 1932. In 1933, after an absence of ten years, he returned to St Albans . He was introduced by Canon Mayhew of the Abbey, whose grandfather had known Skeat’s grandfather, to Christopher Webb, stained glass artist. In 1934 he studied for six months under Webb at his studio. In 1937 he married Birgit Ann Mari Lindquist from Gothenburg , Sweden . After World War II he returned and opened a studio at 7a Market Place, St Albans . His first big commission was the largest stained glass window in the southern hemisphere, for the transept of St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town , South Africa . Skeat has designed over 400 windows in England and abroad. Author of “Stained Glass Windows of the St Albans Cathedral”, Barracuda, 1977. fellow of the Royal society of Arts. Fellow of the British society of Master Glass Painters. His first marks are seen in these panels and are taken from the Arms of Hertfordshire County. The lines across the shield are an allusion to a ford, a pun on the county’s name. Mr Skeat said he had admired the Royal Badge of Richard II in “Boutell’s Heraldry” (p.165, 1970) and used the illustration of a white hart lodged but without the gorged ducal coronet and chain, as the model for his mark. His mark later became a rebus, St Francis of Assisi , around whom radiate small flying birds, and his initials. His studio was at 5 Cross Lane , Harpenden, Herts.
Window North Aisle, North wall, 2 nd from west
A large window with 3 lights and 7 tracery lights. Gothic Revival. Decorated. The two outer lights have trefoil heads and the centre a raised cinquefoil head; all have plain quarries and a medallion in the lower part of each light containing assembled miscellaneous fragments of drab coloured glass remaining from past depredations and alterations of 14 th and 15 th century windows.
West Light. A medallion with a rounded base and round trefoil head contains predominantly white and yellow stain and a few dull purple and blue fragments. In the head is part of a canopy with a frieze of quatrefoils and, below, four round arches. There is a bird’s eye view of the top of a head with yellow wavy hair; three separate heads; part of a bearded head; a beardless head with short hair with yellow stain; curly hair and beard of part of another head; part of a pair of fingers; part of fingers of one hand; one small white rosette and architectural fragments.
Centre Light. A small shield panel of miscellaneous fragments, mainly of white glass with black trace lines and yellow stain, surrounding a smaller damaged heraldic shield. Fragments include part of fingers; part of hand clasping a clasped book; part of a large finely drawn bearded face with long flowing hair, the eye drawn with irises, which is probably 15 th century and may be the head of God from a Holy trinity Window. An heraldic shield escutcheon in the middle chief of the shield panel bears the arms of Edmund Langley. Quarterly 1 & 4 sable semee de lys or surmounted by a trellis azure, 2 & 3 gules three lions passant guardant or overall a label of three points argent each charged with as many torteaux. The shield is damaged on the dexter side. Part of the trellis and fleur-de-lys in the 1 st quarter are missing, also the chief and bar of the label. In the 3 rd quarter part of the sinister hind leg of the largest lion remains but the other two are missing and the remainder of the quarter is filled with 3 yellow, 2 ruby and 1 bluish-white coloured fragments. It is crudely painted and the leading in of a separate pot metal colour, fleur-de-lys or into an azure field, gives the appearance of a trellis. Thus blazoned by Cussans in 1881, he suggested that without the trellis the arms would be those of Grancourt (History of Herts vol III p. 296).
East Light. A multifoil medallion contains mainly white and yellow stain, dull blue and three ruby fragments, and parts of Gothic architecture. In the head, composite of single arch and part of finial, pinnacles, finials and gables with large natural veined crockets from canopies; two trefoiled lights with quatrefoil above.
Tracery lights. Three large spherical triangles, each containing pointed trefoils and flanked by four small triangular lights. The shield in the centre light is not mentioned
by N. Salmon 1728 in his description of the ancient glass. There is a water-colour of the shield showing the label and torteaux, but without the trellis in the 1 st and 4 th quarters, painted by Henry George Oldfield circa 1800, with a manuscript note below: “arms in stained glass in the West window.” J. Cussans in 1881 records the shield in the second window from the east, north aisle where it remained until Grimthorpe demolished the entire old north wall. In St Albans Abbey, north transept, east wall, there are four shields of the House of Plantagenet; Edward III (1327-77) and his first three sons, Edward the Black Prince, Lionel Duke of Clarence, and John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster. The shields were probably placed in the Abbey during their life-time. There is a painted record of the shields, dated 1847, by Charles Winston (British Museum MSS Dept ADD MS 35.211.I.1-16. The Langley shield in St Peter’s appears similar in style of painting to those in the Abbey and is probably of the same date and it may also have been in the Abbey. There are similarities in the lions in the Duke of Clarence shield to those in the Langley , possibly painted by the same glass painter.
Edmund Plantagenet. Surnamed Langley from the place of birth in 1351, he died December 1402 at the Royal Palace , King’s Langley , Herts. 5 th son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault. Created Earl of Cambridge in 1362 by his father, and first Duke of York in 1385 by his nephew Richard III. Knight of the Garter. Married first, Isabel in 1372, daughter of Pedro “the Cruel” of Castile and Leon . She died in 1393 having had three sons and one daughter. His second wife was Joane, daughter of Thomas Holland, earl of Kent . No issue. Edmund was a soldier and a statesman and acted as regent three times. Under the terms of his Will he requested to be buried with Isabel at the Dominican Priory. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries circa 1557, the alabaster and Purbeck marble table tomb, with 13 shields of the Royal family arms, was removed to the parish church of All saints’, Kings Langley.
Window North Aisle, North wall, 3 rd from West
A large window with 3 lights and 12 tracery lights. Gothic Revival. Decorated. All lights have trefoil heads but centre light has a raised head, and plain quarries with a medallion in the lower part of each main light containing assembled miscellaneous fragments of drab coloured glass remaining from past depredations and alterations of 14 th and 15 th century windows.
West light. A medallion with a rounded base and round lobed trefoil head contains the head and shoulders of an ecclesiastic, traditionally John of Wheathampstead, 33 rd Abbot of St Albans. Two separate complete Roman I’s surmounted by crowns, and part of another two crowns repeated on an outer garment. Beardless, he wears a ruby round crowned hat with curled up brim apparently worn over a ruby hood, patterned with “seaweed” foliage. Above and behind the head is a canopy of three cusped arches and buttresses in perspective, white and yellow stain, and identified as part of the original window described below. East of the head is one tiny finely drawn seated minstrel angel, in silver stain, playing a lute, which is possibly from a tracery light.
Centre light. A round-headed panel with, on the west and east sides, a border of horse shoes, toes down, alternating with dull ruby, blue and white blocks. In the head a composite canopy of fragments appears to belong to the flanking perspectival buttress borders. The panel contains dull brown, blue, ochre and ruby fragments. Below is part of a finely drawn ecclesiastical tonsured head; part of two separate heads with curly hair and black eye pupils; two separate hands each holding hilts of swords (belong to two executioners); a pair of hands holding a yellow hilt; a pair of bound hands, below a small stepped base and above the hands the arms of a Latin cross; one barefooted leg in white glass; one with appointed diapered strap shoe and two composite legs. Across the base of the panel is part of another border placed horizontally, with an elaborate stylised leaf pattern alternating with blocks of red and blue. There are two water colours of this border and the horse shoes painted in November 1859 by Charles Winston (1814-65), a barrister, who studied ancient stained glass and initiated an enquiry and revival of interest in the quality and improvement of stained glass.
The other fragments are identified as the remains of the lower panel, carefully assembled with other miscellaneous fragments to simulate the figures and scene of torture in the original window described below.
East light. A multifoil medallion with miscellaneous fragments. The upper half of the panel has a narrow white border, ruby background, part of an elaborate canopy. In the centre a round arched crocketed gable, below quatrefoil and two cinquefoiled lights. Beneath are coloured fragments of ruby and ochre, flanked by part of an architectural throne placed upside down; part of a hand with the bow of a key with pierced quatrefoil, white and yellow stain, identified as a fragment of St Peter’s hand and key, and remains of his throne, which had been in the head of the old cinquefoiled light. Painted by H.G. Oldfield circa 1800.
Tracery lights. In the head a large central round light divided into three, each semi-circle containing an irregular long lobed pointed trefoil; in the centre a small triangular light and two large flanking daggers. Below are six small triangular lights.
The original stained glass, containing two panels, was in the old north wall, third from the east, before Lord Grimthorpe’s demolition. There is a water colour of the complete window painted in situ by T. Trotter in 1799 (Illustrations of Herts Vol IV p. 204; BM ADD MSS 32.351) which was entitled Anonymous Portrait supposed to be the Founder of the Church, with the Martyrdom of one of the Saints.
Upper Panel. The upper half contained an elaborate Gothic background in perspective in white glass and yellow stain. A bay, three tiers divided into three faces by two vertical perspectival shafts springing from two foliated capitals at the base of the panel. In the head of the panel a clerestory with a row of small round-headed single lights. A triforium with single trefoiled lights and below larger trefoiled lights. Two spirelets flank a large head and shoulders at the base of the panel. Purple round crowned, curling brimmed hat worn over turned back red lined hood of purple mantle, appearing on shoulders. A white beardless face with fine shading, eyes with blue iris and full red lips. A white under garment is gathered into a yellow bordered neckband, embroidered with yellow spots. Dexter shoulder shows top of a white sleeve. Blue outer garment patterned with four separate yellow crowns, has a yellow bordered white band with alternate yellow diamonds and spot decoration. The portrait was not referred to by N. Salmon in 1728, in his description of earlier windows. In 1801-2 H. Oldfield painted the head and shoulders showing it fragmented, possibly damaged when the central tower was partly dismantled in 1799 or during the rebuilding of the tower and restoration of the church 1802-6. the panel is deprived of perspectival architectural background. The face, without hat and red hood, white undergarment with four crowns now shown each surmounting a black Roman I, is leaded into a foliated ruby background. Also, on the sinister side, leaded in above the shoulder, the upper part of a martyr’s palm, yellow stained. The lower part of the palm is significantly painted, apparently contemporary with the crowns on the same fragment of the outer garment. The palm is not to be seen in Trotter’s 1799 water colour of the complete window. Also added, leaded in on the dexter side, is an Elizabethan type Communion cup; a tall slender fluted bowl with everted rim and part of the stem with a compressed knot. In a manuscript note above Oldfield’s painting: “Painted Glass in one of the windows of St Peter’s Church, St Albans by tradition said to be the Portrait of John De Wheathampstead the 33 rd abbot of St Albans, the initial letter I with a crown over it repeated upon his garment gives some probability to the account.” The initial I’s may be confirmation of attribution, as ecclesiastics were referred to by Latin names, the canonical language until the 15 th century. He was reputed to call himself Iohannes de loco Frumentario (John of the place of Corn). In the Trotter water colour of 1799 he is wearing the purple and ruby headgear of a bishop, possibly in canon’s vestments; wearing over the shoulders a short purple cape. The remains of an outer garment with crowns, chalice and palm, alternatively could be from another figure. In the present restoration of the incomplete panel, the face has again been leaded into assembled fragments of the architectural background, q.v. foliated capitals flanking the crown of the hat. The hat worn over the hood has been simulated. The white undergarment at the neck is now missing, replaced by a new dull yellow fragment. The chalice and palm also remain. Could this portrait of the Abbot possibly be from the window of the Abbey Library, described in the following passage?
John Bostock c. 1375-1465
Son of Hugh Bostock of Wheathampstead and of Margaret, daughter of Thomas Macry of Mackery End, one mile south east of Wheathampstead. There is a brass, c. 1436 to his parents in the north transept of St Helen’s, Wheathampstead. Two of his uncles held office as prior and cellarer at the subordinate Priory of Tynmouth. The former, whose name was also John, has been mistaken for Abbot John . From the convent at St Albans John went to Gloucester Hall, Oxford , founded by John Giffard of Brimpsfield and the Abbot of Gloucester in 1283. Benedictine monasteries sent their novices to study the Arts and Sciences there as it was not part of the monastic curriculum. He became prior of Gloucester Hall 1414-17. He met and became a friend of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who was at Balliol College , 4 th and youngest son of Henry IV, who became Regent to the infant Henry VI. John was twice elected Abbot of St Albans, 1420-41 and 1452-65. In 1423 he went to the Council of Pavia, Italy. Famous for his great learning, a prolific writer of prose and verse, and for acquiring possessions for the Convent and erecting buildings. He rebuilt the Church of Redbourn , dedicated to St Amphibalus. “He erected a library in the Monk’s College in Oxford , also a Chapel adjoining and in the principal Windows the Pictures of the Crucifix, the Virgin Mary, and St John the Baptist.” He had a great interest and enthusiasm for stained glass. He caused new Windows to be made, and glaized in the North Part of his Church, that it might appear more light and glorious, and several Hexameters were inscribed in the Glass under Images of certain Heathen Philosophers, which had testified on the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, and caused a fair large Window to be made in the West End of the North Isle.” (ref: “Historical Antiquities of Hertfordshire”, H. Chauncy, II, pp. 276-277, 1700). He filled 32 three-light windows in the cloisters, each window with two Old Testament types and one New Testament event, with relevant texts and prophecies, and verses that he composed. These were recorded in 1672, also those in the library windows (ref Bodleian MS Laud Misc 797 & 697, f. 27). None of the glass remains. He built a new Library 1452-3 with 12 windows, each contained figures of the four men estimated in the 15 th century to represent each branch of science and learning, with metrical explanations in scrolls or painted inscriptions. The sixth window was reserved for a portrait of himself, as founder of the library, with a biography in a quatrain below, doubtless written by himself: “A small teacher who taught, but himself needed teaching more. A shepherd of small account who ruled, but himself stood in need of ruling. He laid aside the mitre and devoted himself to his books and to study. Then resumed the mitre and prepared this place for books.” (M.R. James, Cambridge Antiquarian Society Vol 7 1881-91; Vol 8 1891-94) John persuaded the Duke of Gloucester, who frequently visited the Abbey, “to give vestments worth 3,000 marks with the Manor of Pembrook, S. Wales , that Monks should pray for his soul.” He is buried in a vault on the south side of St Albans Chapel in the Abbey. The tomb of Abbot John with carvings of clusters of three wheat ears, his allusive heraldic badge, is in the south aisle of the Presbytery.
Lower Panel – Martyrdom of one of the Saints
Continued description of the window painted by T. Trotter in 1799.
A scene of torture with, in the background, a tall wooden frame and large wheel, a windlass. There is a standing shadowy featureless figure, with wild dishevelled hair, wearing a long red robe. Two standing bearded men, one naked to the waist and wearing voluminous breeches, the other in short tunic, are stabbing respectively the head, encircled with a heavy rope, and neck of a naked man who is wearing a perizonium tied on the sinister hip. His bound wrists are held up in front and he stands with legs crossed, the dexter foot on the lid of an open wooden coffin on the ground. At his side is a three legged wooden stand connected to the tall frame with aturntable, and a roll of rope or wire, which passes into a bleeding aperture below the navel. Behind is a white cloth, probably a shroud. St Erasmus, a Syrian bishop, Martyr 303 AD is also represented with an aperture in his body through which his intestines were wound out by a windlass. This is very rarely represented in stained glass. In 1728 N. Salmon records: “In the Middle Window is a Person naked his Hands tied down, an Executioner stabbing him in the throat with a long Sword: a Woman stands behind. This seems designed for Offa’s Queen seeing young Alfred murdered.” This is a reference to his preceding account in his history of the murder of Ethelbert. King of the East angles, at the instigation of Quendrida, wife of Offa, King of Mercia 757-796. He was beheaded during festivities of his nuptials to Offa’s third daughter, Ethelfleda. According to Matthew Paris, St Albans Abbey was founded in 795 as an act of expiation by Offa for the murder of the King.
In 1801-2 Meyrick states that this window was on the south side next to the Distribution of bread – “what Salmon describes as the murder of King of the East angles, but if he had inspected it closer he would have found it to be that of Amphibalus.” Comparing the tonsured head among the fragments in the centre light with Trotter’s painting, it appears to be the head of Amphibalus. The part of the sword blade below the beard is drawn in the same position and on the same fragment as the head. The rope round the head is probably a mistaken representation of the tonsure by trotter. Among the Wills of 1473 there was a bequest for a window of the protomartyr of St Alban in St Peter’s. The martyrdom of St Amphibalus could have been part of this window or another of the same date.
Matthew Paris c. 1200-1259. the greatest 13 th century English historian. In 1217 he entered the Benedictine Monastery of St Albans. He translated the Latin account of the Passion of Sts Alban, Amphibalus and Aracles, and the Foundation of the Abbey by Offa, King of the Mercians (757-796) into French verse and illustrated it with wash drawings. Rubrics were added in a later hand. The MS belonged to the Abbey and was possibly given or shown to Henry III (1216-72) when he visited. Gildas’ 6 th century legend “Passio Albani” was recounted by Venerable Bede, monk historian, in his “Ecclesiastical History” of 731. Paris illustrated the Martyrdom of Amphibalus: “a Governor mounted in front of a gateway with a crowd of people on horseback and on foot, a man with winged headdress is plunging a dagger into tonsured head of Amphibalus, and holds a birch rod in his hand. Amphibalus, stripped to the waist, his bound hand holding the cross, is attached to a rough stake by his entrails, which are wound out of him. Three men are striking him with spear and dagger.” Note: it is very apparent that the 13 th century illustration and the three central figures were the origin for the later lower panel described above, as depicted in the painting by trotter. In the latter Amphibalus is not shown holding his attribute, a curious cross, similar to crux ansata, the upper arm terminating in a circular disc, as he does in the Paris drawing. However, when the remaining fragments in the centre light were reassembled in the present composite semblance of the original panel, a cross was placed between the bound hands. The cross given by Amphibalus to St Alban which he dropped when he was beheaded was retrieved by one of the spectators. Reputedly the cross was subsequently obtained by Abbot William de trumpington (1214-35) from a family in London who had passed it down through the generations. It became one of the relics of the Abbey. The cross became the emblem of St Alban although it is not represented in the east window of St Peter’s by W.E. Tower , 1913. A cross with a similar base as seen in the panel can be noted in the east window of St Alban by John Prudde, c. 1447, Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick.
Amphibalus. N. Salmon writes in 1728: “There is a tradition that Amphibalus, who converted Alban to the Christian faith was buried in St Albans Abbey. He is by the writers of those times surnamed Denanius, as a native of the Welsh side of the River Dee in Diocletian’s persecution, he is said to have taken up his lodging in Alban’s house at verulam, whom he instructed and baptised.” He exchanged with Alban his hairy cloak, possibly a sheepskin often worn by pilgrims, and a curious cross, who was then mistakenly arrested in place of Amphibalus and beheaded. “Upon the martyrdom of Alban he retired and sheltered himself with some followers in a distant country. They tell us, he was in Scotland, afterwards in the Isle of Anglesea, where he was a Bishop and did great Service in bringing over people to the Christian Faith, constantly opposing the Idolatry in fashion; That he was catched hereabouts, his Belly ripped up, and one End of his Intestines being fastened to a Tree, he was whipped about that Tree till they were all twisted on it, and stoned to Death: That the Faithful got his body, and buried it where the Church of Redbourne stands. But when the Times would bear it, his Reliques were carried in great pomp to S. Albans, and deposited near that Martyr. And such respect did the Abbot shew, that he made a Decree for a Prior and three Monks to be ever attending at his Shrine, who were allowed 20 pounds per Annum for the Office.” During the Dissolution the shrines of the saints were despoiled, the Purbeck marble pedestals broken up, and used to block up the eastern arches of the Saint’s Chapel in the Abbey. In 1872 during Sir G.G. Scott’s restoration of the retrochoir, more than 2,000 fragments were recovered and a few remaining stones of the 14 th century pedestal, upon which rested the jewelled reliquary containing the bones or relics of S. Amphibalus, is in the north aisle presbytery. S. Alban’s reassembled pedestal was placed again in the Saint’s Chapel in the Abbey. The Passio of S. Amphibalus was composed after the translation of the martyr’s relics to the Abbey. Circa 1178 S. Alban appeared in a vision to a devout townsman and led him to the spot, the Mounds of the Banners, where the Saint lay buried at Redbourne, 4 miles from St Albans . Abbot Simon (1167-83) was informed, the remains were recovered and taken to the Abbey, with attendant miracles. A small priory was established on the site. Reputedly the name of the fugitive priest Amphibalus was created at the beginning of the 12 th century by Geoffrey of Monmouth, through the misinterpretation of a phrase in 6th century Gildas de Excidio Brittaniae: Young princes killed in a church “sub sancti abbatis amphibalo” – under the mantle of the holy abbot was mistranslated: “killed in a church of S. Amphibal.” William, Monk of St Albans, a hagiologist writing the Life of the 2 saints between 1155-68, adopted the name from Geoffrey and thus it became established. Amphibalus in Latin means cloak, the garment Amphibalus exchanged with S. Alban.
Window North Aisle, North Wall, Centre
A large window with three lights and nine tracery lights. Gothic Revival. Decorated. The two outer lights with trefoil heads and the centre light with raised cinquefoiled head all have plain quarries, with medallions of differing shapes in the lower part of each light, those in the outer lights being of assembled fragments of drab coloured glass, remaining from past depredations and alterations of the 14 th and 15 th century windows.
West Light. The medallion with rounded base and lobed trefoil head contains dull blue and ochre fragments; one beardless head with yellow curls; fingers clasping a circular yellow base; one bearded head; part of the side of a head with rayed nimbus; part of finely drawn face with black eye pupils, which is similar in drawing to a head with yellow stain wavy hair and beard of a grimacing toothless man with black pupils; part of white, yellow-bordered patterned mantle; fragment of scroll with an inscription in Gothic, “Ecce bibi” (Behold drink); a small hand. These fragments are identified as the remains of the upper panel, which have been carefully assembled with other miscellaneous fragments to simulate the figures and scene but without the canopy and shafts in the original window described below.
Centre light. A round lobed quatrefoil with an outer yellow and inner ruby band border. Part of the west and east border appears to have been cut away at some time and is now completed by odd coloured fragments of older glass. Against a ruby diapered background a white pelican, seated on a curious woven yellow wicker nest, is piercing her breast to feed three young with her blood.
East light. A medallion with a rounded base and round lobed trefoil head contains miscellaneous fragments of white and yellow stain, a few dull blue and ruby, and parts of Gothic architecture.
Tracery lights. In the head a large central vesica with irregular pointed lobed quatrefoil and two large flanking triangular lights. Below are two smaller flanking horizontal irregular pointed lobed quatrefoils and below again four small triangular lights.
The original stained glass containing two scene panels was in the most eastern window in the north aisle. Described by N. Salmon in 1728: “In the North window a Man drinking a Label, Ecce bibi Venenum crede…Two stand by him, one of them holds the Bottom of the Cup to his Mouth, a third is sitting with two Children leaning their Heads in his lap.” (History of Herts p. 99) Salmon referred to it as being situated next to the window showing the decapitation.
There is a water colour of the complete window painted in situ by T. trotter in 1799 entitled “Two Historical Compositions representing the Martyrdom of the Saints.”
Upper Panel. Three standing bearded males. One, nimbed, wearing turban tilted over his eyes, with patterned and bordered mantle, drinking from a cup or chalice with hemispherical bowl. A floating white scroll above, in the centre, with an inscription in black Gothic, “Ecce bibi nevem…ner” - last word defective. In the centre a male with a forked beard, mantle and sashed robe, wears what appears to be a baron’s coronet without pearls, one hand holding up the hand of the man drinking. A male with multi-
rayed nimbus, holding in his dexter hand a cloth, has the sinister hand on the shoulder of one bearded, turbaned seated male, who has one hand holding the arm of a child seated in front of him on the ground, looking upwards. In the foreground two males lying prone on the ground, one in a short tunic and wearing a turban. By his head, fallen on its side on the ground, is a cup or chalice with a wide shallow bowl. In the Trotter painting 1799 only one child is apparent, not two as described above by salmon. The window may have been damaged as there is a large enough area, vaguely delineated at the side of the one child, to have contained the figure of another. The seated male wearing a turban may represent a Saracen (pagan). The composite figure of a man drinking, in the present assembly of fragments, has the young head from another figure.
Lower Panel. Martyrdom of the Saints. There are four standing males, one with a drawn sword raised, pointing at the throat of a kneeling female who wears a simple low-necked, sashed gown. Another, in a short tunic, with bare leg and foot, is holding a large club on his shoulder and is clutching the hair of another praying female. At his side is part of a female peering at the kneeling figures. In the foreground one standing male in a short tunic with bare legs and feet, is lifting a cap off his head and appears to hold a collection of caps piled up under one arm. He may be a street vendor. At the side is part of the back of a male wearing a hat and a short tunic.
The subjects of these two panels are unidentified but may be part of a series illustrating the events of Sts Alban and Amphibalus’ martyrdoms and persecutions. Among the Wills of 1473 there was a bequest for a window of the protomartyr St Alban in St peter’s. The Martyrdom of St Amphibalus could have been part of a series of Lives of the Saints. In the 13 th century the monk historian Matthew Paris recorded that St Alban was imprisoned for six months and the country suffered from a terrible drought. He illustrated these scenes, showing men dying of thirst. If salmon in 1728 transcribed correctly the inscription “Ecce bibi venenum crede” (Behold drink poison believe), the subject of the panel could possibly be a symbolic representation of the spread of the Pelagian heresy, established in Hertfordshire by Agricola, a disciple of Pelagius, 5 th century monk of Bangor, Wales, who denied the doctrine of original sin, or the taint of Adam. The Christians requested assistance from churches in Gaul , who sent Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, and Lupus, Bishop of Troyes, who reconverted many and converted others to the true faith. In 429 a synod of council was held in Verulam ( St Albans ) where these Bishops “confuted the chiefest of the Hereticks in a publick Disputation.” (Chauncy. Hist. Antiquities II, p 231, London 1700).The audience were said to be richly dressed and conspicuous for their wealth.
The male figure with rayed nimbus, standing unobtrusively in the background with a protective hand on the shoulder of the pagan, may represent Christ and the true faith. Christ is to be seen as an unobtrusive background figure in medieval paintings.
With regard to the subject of the lower panel, M. Paris recounts that a thousand converts left for Wales to find Amphibalus, the Christian priest who had converted Alban and fled when he was arrested. Amphibalus was converting and baptising “Saracens” (pagans). The rulers of Verulam despatched soldiers to return with the converts or slay them. There was a massacre. Paris illustrates these scenes.
In 731 the monk historian the Venerable Bede, in his ecclesiastical history simply records that St Alban suffered martyrdom and makes no reference to the martyrdom of Amphibalus, whose legend was established in the 12 th century. “In the same persecution Aaron and Julius citizens of the City of Legions and many others of both sexes throughout the land. After they had endured many horrible physical tortures, death brought an end to the struggle and their souls entered the joys of the heavenly city.” (Bede, History of the English Church and People, p 47 – Penguin 1976).
The pelican in the centre light symbolises the Crucifixion and shedding of Christ’s blood to redeem mankind. This was removed from another window and placed in this window after Lord Grimthorpe’s restoration. “Three stained glass windows by Capronnier have just been inserted in south side of nave at the cost of £400. the other stained glass windows are also by Monsieur Capronnier. In the east window the figure of an elder harping with his harp has been substituted for a symbolic pelican, which has been removed to another window of the church. On the north side of the church five divisions of windows have been reglazed with relics of stained glass windows of 14 th century.” (The Builder, Aug 10 th 1867, V&A)
The pelican feeding her young in the nest is represented in two of the 180 hassocks in the church worked by members of the congregation and designed by Miss E.F.M. Nevell. The project was commenced in 1964 by Mrs Sydney Clarke, an expert in Church needlework.
Window North Aisle, North Wall, 3 rd from East
A large window with three lights and thirteen tracery lights. Gothic Revival. Decorated. All lights have trefoil heads, but centre light has a raised head, and all have plain quarries with a medallion in the lower part of each light containing assembled miscellaneous fragments of drab coloured glass remaining from past degradations and alterations of 14 th and 15 th century windows.
West Light. A multifoil medallion with miscellaneous fragments of dull ruby, green, blue, white and yellow stain glass containing parts of Gothic architecture; composite single arch with part of finial, flanked by part of perspectival buttresses placed upside down at the base of the panel.
Centre Light. A round-headed panel, the west and east sides having a border of horse shoes, toes down, alternating with dull red blocks. From an older window the remaining horse shoes are in the west and east sides of a similar panel in the centre light of the window.
The panel contains dull blue, ruby, white and yellow stain fragments. In the head are miscellaneous architectural fragments; a pair of praying hands and arms in plate armour, 3 hands, one pointing and one mailed; two 14 th century pointed bascinets, with staples in yellow stain also the pointed visors with ventilation holes, pivoted at the sides. One bascinet is in profile with the visor closed, showing a fraction of an aventail; the other has the visor raised, showing three quarter face, the aventail finishing in a point. There are five separate legs in plate armour, a pair of legs and bare feet in white glass and a head with yellow wavy hair and beard. The pointing hand, and possibly also a small brown painted head and hand, appear to be all that remains of the lower panel, “Relief of the Saints”. The other fragments are identified as the remains of the upper panel of the Decapitation, which have been carefully assembled with other miscellaneous fragments to simulate the figures and scene in the original window described below. (The two bascinets are illustrated in “European Arms & Armour”, Charles Henry Ashdown, Brussel & Brussel , New York , 1967, p. 171.)
East light. A multifoil medallion with miscellaneous fragments of white glass, yellow stain and a few ruby. There are parts of Gothic architecture; three separate Tudor roses; one yellow straight-rayed sun on a black disc in the lower foil; centre top foil has a large lion’s face affrontee, bared teeth, including beard, caboshed. Probably part of a charge of arms, possibly from a tracery light. In St Peter’s in 1815 R. Clutterbuck recorded the arms of Iohannes Michel, 1691. Blazon: three leopards heads caboshed and a chief embattled ermine. The lion was anciently blazoned as a leopard. Parts of the lion, including the head, were used as charges in heraldry.
Tracery lights. In the head a large central round light divided into four semi-circles, each containing an irregular long lobed pointed trefoil; in the centre a lozenge with two large flanking daggers and below six small triangular lights.
The original stained glass, containing two scene panels, was in a window in the north wall second from the east, described by N. salmon in 1728: “In armour kneeling two others standing by.” There is a water colour of the complete window painted in situ by T. Trotter in 1799.
Upper Panel. Under a triple canopy is a helmeted soldier with the visor up, holding a dagger and standing behind a bearded man, who has his arms bent behind his back, is wearing a short tunic buttoned all down the front, has bare legs and patens on his feet. He is clutched in front by another helmeted soldier with the visor down. Both soldiers are wearing short tunics and hinged plate leg harness. A third soldier, kneeling and praying, wears a helmet with the visor up. Behind him is a large bearded old male, one arm upraised, in a long robe and a cap. All are standing on a road on a round arched bridge over a river. In the foreground is a falling decapitated body in a short tunic with a large severed bearded head beneath it. This scene may be a composite representation of the martyrdom of St Alban and his companions Sts Amphibalus and Aracles. He was reputed to have passed over the river Ver on his way to execution, with many attendant miracles, which converted his appointed executioner, who then refused to behead the saint, and was himself beheaded. Note the similarity of the round arched bridge in the 13 th century M. Paris illustration of St Albans crossing the bridge on his way to execution, led by Aracles his executioner.
Lower Panel Relief of the Saints
This depicts three standing bearded males conversing; three kneeling praying figures, two male and one female; and one young male carrying a large wicker basket of loaves on his back. Circa 1801-2 J. Meyrick describes the lower panel as being “On the South side the most eastern window has some figures partly broken but it seems a distribution of bread. One figure seems coming with a basket of loaves on his shoulder some of the others have them in their hands.” The latter are not apparent in the Trotter water colour. This could be giving charity to the poor, or possibly Feeing the Hungry. 7 Corporal Works of Mercy (Matthew 25:35-36).
The horseshoe border in the centre light was recorded in 1881 by J. Cussans: “I have in vain attempted to discover the subjects represented in two comparatively perfect pictures which remain. By the costume of the figures, and by the peculiar peaked helmets, the date of the works may be safely ascribed to within ten years of the year 1400. On both sides of three of the subjects are narrow borders charged with silver horse shoes.” Note: these horse shoe borders are not to be seen in any of T. Trotter’s paintings of these windows previously described.
There is a water colour of this border, painted Nov. 1859 by Charles Winston in the BM Add Mss 32.211 Vol I 1-16.351.
In April 1887, in a paper read to St Albans & Herts Architectural & Archaeological Society, the Rev H. Fowler also mentions the horse shoe borders, suggesting the donor was probably a person named Ferrers whose badge was a horse shoe, heraldically referred to as Ferrs. Ferrer was a worker in iron. A family of that name possessed land in the parish in medieval times. The Book of Benefactors of St Albans Abbey records that John Ferrers, seneschal to Henry, Earl of Warwick, was admitted to the fraternity and gave 10s of annual rent arising out of four tofts, situate in New Lane , in St Peter’s parish. The entry, however, is undated. His wife, Agatha, was a daughter of Adrian Brekespere of Langley . A shield of arms on the ceiling of the north transept of the Abbey, Argent six ferrs sable, was assigned by R. Clutterbuck to de Ferrers. In 1487 William Victor, by his Will directs that his body be buried in St Peter’s Church before St Christopher near the grave of Edward Ferrers, his wife’s brother. Thomas Ferrers, bailiff of St Albans , entered the monastery in 1493.
Window North Aisle, North Wall, East
A large window with three lights and five tracery lights. Gothic Revival. Decorated. The two outer lights have trefoil heads and the centre light a raised cinquefoil head. Sacrifice. In pre-Raphaelite style, with drab colour, predominantly brown, ruby, dull green and white.
West Light. A border of alternate vine leaf and stem, gourd and pomegranate, the two latter symbolising the resurrection. In the head of the light the background of rectangular quarries of white glass, each painted with a different wild flowering plant, yellow stained, including violet, cowslip, clover and fritillary, is the same as in the base of the window. The vesica in the head contains a landscape of hill and river below, with rising cloud and sun, representing the pillar of cloud guiding by day (Exodus 13:21 ). Below is a landscape with two poplar tress and a grazing white horse. The ideal Christian Knight, Sir Galahad, is in transitional 14 th century mixed armour of mail hauberk, plate vambrace and leg harness, wears a ruby cloak, holds a large unsheathed sword, point downwards, and a long white triangular shield charged with a red cross. He is standing on the steps of a wayside shrine, before an altar with candlestick, crucifix, chalice and paten. In the foreground is an iris plant known as Swordlily.
Centre light. In the head of an aureole bordered with thorn and surrounded by rays, and within it Christ crucified, the lower body in coils of thorn. Below is a white composite scroll with the text in Gothic “Ecce Agnus Dei” (Behold the Lamb of God) John 1:36). Below again, Isaac is lying horizontally on rocks, his arms and waist roped to a wooden cross, and brushwood below the waist. Below him, a hovering angel with red wings and arms outstretched, is leaning down over a knight kneeling on rocks in the foreground. The latter is looking upwards, holds a naked sword, and is dressed similarly to the knight in the west light, but with a red surcoat over the hauberk and a patterned cope. He represents Abraham.On the ground, by his knee, is a censer and a wide spiral of grey smoke leads upwards to the bound Isaac. On a black band along the base in abraded white Roman majs. Is the text “In monte Dominus videbit” (In the mount the Lord shall see – Genesis 22:14 ).
East light. The border and background are the same as in the west light. In the head, the vesica contains an identical landscape but with planets and stars and a pillar of flame, representing the pillar of fire guiding by night (Exodus 13:21 ). Below is a landscape with a town on a hill, a river, a bridge and four leafless poplar trees. The Angel of the Grail is standing in benediction and holding a chalice, and wearing mass vestments, an alb without apparel and a chasuble with a T-shaped red orphrey. In the foreground is an iris plant.
Tracery lights. In the head of the arch a round lobed quatrefoil contains stars symbolising regeneration and in the centre three larger stars represent the Trinity. Below two large multifoils contain angels:
West: a golden haired angel, wearing a blue robe, stands bending over, holding stars in one arm and gathering others. Shining lives being gathered into heaven.
East: the back of a leaping angel with brown hair, wearing a blue robe and holding up a globe. Behind him are a nebula, a planet with rings and stars. Two small flanking triangular lights each contain a star.
Designer: Louis Davis (1861-1941).
Executed 1918. Messrs Powell & Powell.
Donor: Mrs Mead, The Moorings, St Peter’s Park, St Albans , as a memorial to her husband. Also two sons killed in France in World War I, whose names are on the war memorial Board west of the south door. August 3 rd 1918. Application for Faculty to take out the plain glass and replace it with stained glass “Sacrifice”. Davis was a friend of the Incumbent, the Revd W.E. Chadwick (1910-25) and was requested by him to design the window. The artist signed his windows with two imposed initials, not traced in this window.
Mural Tablet North Aisle, North Wall, East
A light brown marble tablet with integral curved frame supported on two brackets. There are two coloured crests in the centre of the inscription, the top one being that of the Royal Fusiliers and the bottom that of Winchester College . The inscription written in two columns, the first two lines spreading across both and preceded by a Greek cross, is in incised Roman majs and mins and appears to be coloured black but there is evidence that it was originally red, and reads: “In Loving memory of FREDERICK MEAD who died August 11 th 1915 Aged 58 years & of his two Sons (Left hand Column) JOSEPH FREDERICK MEAD 2 nd Lieut. 4 th Battn. The Royal Fusiliers educated at Winchester College & sandhurst joined his regiment March 1914 Killed defending the Nimy Bridge at Mons on Sunday August 23 rd 1914 Aged 22 years. (Right Hand Column) ROBERT JOHN MEAD 2 nd Lieut. 8 th Service Battn. The Royal Fusiliers educated at Winchester College received his commission August 1914 Died at Armentieres Hospital Aug 2 nd 1915 from wounds received on Sunday Aug. 1 st Aged 19 years (Extending across both Columns) “E’en as they trod that day to God so walked they from their birth, In simpleness and gentleness and honour and clean mirth”, Rudyard Kipling.”
Maker: M.H. Lawrence Christie, Ditchling , Sussex .
Application for Faculty June 13 th 1918.
Louis Davis 1861-1941. decorative artist and painter. Lived and died at Pinner, Middlesex. Influenced by William Morris, who rejected the development of the machine age and revived the craft theory of art, linked with an admiration for the Middle Ages, Chaucer and Arthurian legends. Edward Burne-Jones, an associate of Morris, also a painter and stained glass designer, opened a workshop with gifted pupils and assistants during the 1870s. It is possible that Louis Davis had some connection. Burne-Jones was a member of the old Watercolour Society 1864-7. Davis was also a member. He was criticised for exhibiting a stained glass cartoon at the Watercolour Society exhibition in December 1900 (ref: Builder LXXIX.2 1900 V&A, pp. 20 A-F) A book illustrator, Davis also designed banners and hangings. In the Lady Chapel in Gloucester Cathedral there is a hanging worked by Mrs L. Davis. Christopher Whall designed the stained glass.
Davis designed many stained glass windows in this country and abroad, and mural decoration in churches and other buildings. There is a large wall painting, Scenes from the Lives of Missionaries, in the Chapel of Universities Mission, Westminster , also a University Memorial Window of a holy 14 th century legend in Westminster Abbey. “As a designer of stained glass he uses transparent and dull white. Mr Davis loves to tell a story that has many scenes.” He has done windows in Cheltenham
College Chapel, Holyrood Palace Edinburgh and the English Church in Stockholm . He exhibited glass at the Paris Exhibition in September 1900. A contributor to the Arts & Crafts Movement, a development of William Morris’ ideas, which continued into the 1920s. Powells had executed glass for Morris & Co., including Burne-Jones and continued to supply glass through the Arts & Crafts era. Together with Christopher whall (1850-1924), under whom Davis had studied, he exerted an important influence on stained glass artists of the next generation, including another student of Whall’s, Karl Parsons (1884-1934) and Douglas Strachan (1875-1950). Whall and Davis were both members of the Fitzroy Picture Society. Davis painted the Road to Camelot, and Arthurian legend. “Unlike many designers he can paint a gallery picture with as much facility as he can decorate a church wall and seems to be able to work in any scale. His large designs for windows have just the same technical charm as his tiny book illustrations.”
Window Chancel, North Wall, West
A large three-light window, main lights all blocked. Gothic Revival. Decorated. Reticulated traceries. In the head of the arch are six tracery lights, all containing quatrefoils and two small flanking triangular lights below; all with plain quarries. It was built by Lord Grimthorpe in the 1893-5 alterations, replacing a three-light simple Perpendicular window, a replica of the 15 th century windows in the south aisle, built when the north transept was demolished in the 1802-06 alterations. It had contained an Annunciation of the Shepherds by J.B. Capronnier, which is now missing. It was recorded by Cussans in 1879 as being similar to the Capronnier window opposite to the south wall.
Window Chancel, North Wall, West
A medium size single pointed arched window, west one of a pair. Gothic Revival.
Saint Monica. The light is bordered with alternate ruby and blue blocks and fleur-de-lys. There is a tall elaborate canopy with flanking shafts descending to a black and green receding tiled floor. The saint has a blue nimbus, wears a wimple, a ruby robe and a patterned cloak and is standing praying. A curved white scroll above her head bears an inscription in Gothic black majs. and mins. Which reads: “S’ta Monica mater S’cti Augustini” (Saint Monica mother of Saint Augustine .)
Base panel. Praying for the Conversion of St Augustine . There is a small canopy with flanking shafts descending to a small three-sided crenellated base in the base of the panel. Through the round arched window of a room can be seen a landscape. A jar with foliage in it is on the sill and below is a patterned hanging on a pole. A nimbed aged saint, wearing the same robes as above, is kneeling in prayer on a tasselled hassock before an altar with a crucifix and an open book. A sanctuary lamp hangs above.
Designer: W.E. Tower (1873-1955). His mark of a gold wheatsheaf containing a small black chess tower is to be found in the west base.
Executed 1915 by Messrs C.E. Kempe & co., 28 Nottingham Place , London .
Dedication: In the east base on a white ground is an inscription in Gothic black majs and mins which reads: “To the Glory of God and in memory of Harriette Anne Webb 1837-1913.”
Saint Monica c. 331-387. Mother of S. Augustine of Hippo. Born at Carthage , she married a pagan, Patricius of Thagaste ( Algeria ). She had three children. Her eldest son, Augustine, lapsed from Christianity, but her prayers and tears were rewarded by his return to Catholicism. Monica followed him to Italy where she became a disciple of S. Ambrose. Augustine was baptised, aged 32 by S. Ambrose, Easter eve 397. the same year, setting out with his mother to return to Africa , she died at the port of Ostia on the Tiber . Augustine became, with SS. Ambrose, Jerome and Gregory, one of the four great Latin Doctors of the Western Church . Followers founded the Augustinian Order.
Window Chancel, North wall, East
A medium size single pointed arched window, east of a pair. Gothic Revival.
Saint Hilda . The light is bordered with alternate ruby and blue blocks and fleur-de-lys. There is a tall elaborate canopy with flanking shafts descending to a black and green receding tiled floor. The saint has a red nimbus, is crowned, and wears the habit of a Benedictine Abbess; veil headdress, blue robe, white cope patterned with Roman initial H. She holds a pastoral staff and miniature Whitby Abbey with a scroll with an inscription in Gothic black majs and mins, some letters missing, which reads: “Ecce….ia Whitb..” (Behold Church of Whitby ). On a curved white scroll above her head in Gothic black majs and mins is the inscription: “Sancta Hilda Abbatissa” (Saint Hilda Abbess).
Base Panel: Bringing the infant Aelffled to St Hilda for Education. A small canopy with flanking shafts descending to a small three-sided crenellated base in the base of the panel. Standing in a Romanesque doorway is a nun holding a pastoral staff, behind a nimbed Abbess who is wearing the same robes as above. Her hands are outstretched to receive an infant from a ruby-cloaked king, Oswy of Northumbria, who is holding his daughter. Behind are a helmeted soldier with a shield and spear, and a man in a clasped cloak, reading a paper he is holding.
Designer: W.E. Tower .
Executed 1915 by Messrs C.E. Kempe.
Dedication: In the east base on a white ground is an inscription in Gothic black majs and mins which reads: “To the Glory of God and in memory of Lucy Crowdy Brown 1836-1913.”
Faculty, July 24 th 1914, granted to the Revd W.E. Chadwick to replace the plain glass in two lancets on the north side of the Sanctuary with stained glass.
Dedication 1 st November 1914. The two lancets were dedicated by the Revd M.A. Knapp, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Frogmore, two miles south of St Albans . The church is a very early design of Sir G.G. Scott. The Revd Knapp was an old friend of Miss Brown of Avalon, Hillside Road , St Albans , who died June 5 th 1913.
Saint Hilda 614-680. Grandniece of King Edwin of Northumbria . S. Aidan made her Abbess of the Convent of Heruten ( Hartlepool ) in 649. In 655 Oswy King of the Northumbrians dedicated his tiny daughter Aelffled as a consecrated virgin of God, and twelve grants of land to build monasteries, if he was victorious over Penda, King of the Mercians, who was devastating his kingdom. The latter was defeated, and Aelffled entered the convent ruled by Abbess Hilda. Two years later the Abbess acquired the property of ten hides measure of land at Streanaeshaleh ( Whitby ) and founded a double monastery for both men and women in 659. the monastic rule of S. Benedict was adopted. King Oswy’s daughter became a novice at Whitby . Subsequently five members from the monastery became bishops; and the herdsman Caedmon the first English religious poet.
Clerestory : rebuilt with larger windows by Lord Grimthorpe, replacing 15 th century square-headed windows with fourteen three-light windows. Each window with flanking three centred and central four centred arched head, all containing obscured quarries, is spaced above the apex of each nave arch.
Central Tower . The medieval tower was partly dismantled in 1799. On November 21 st 1801 the remains collapsed. Rebuilding commenced in November 1802 using brick “neatly plastered”, 67 feet high, with a window in each face of the first stage with plain glazing. The tower was remodelled by Lord Grimthorpe in 1893-95. He added four pinnacles.
Windows Ringing Chamber First Stage
Medium sized three-light windows with five tracery lights. The two outer lights have raised pointed cinquefoiled heads and the centre light a lower pointed trefoiled head; all plain quarries.
Tracery lights. In the centre a large triangle contains irregular round lobed cinquefoil, below are two small triangular lights and two large flanking triangles; all with plain quarries.
Window North Wall, Centre
The centre light of the three-light window contains a small rectangular stained glass panel, on plain quarries, commemorating a World ward II victory peal and shows four male ringers standing on a base which is supported by two scrolls flanking a small single bell in down-position. Above the ringers’ heads is a rectangular panel divided into three, and above this a wooden frame with two wheels and two bells in up-position for change-ringing. The inscription on the panel reads: “The Hertford County Association (St.Peter’s Society) On Thursday, 16 th August 1945 in 3hrs and 9 mins. A Victory Peal 5056 changes Plain Bob Major
T.J. Knight Treble R.W. Darvill 5 th
F.J. Spicer 2 nd C.F. Sayer 6 th
B.C. Johnson 3 rd G.W. Debenham 7 th
W.J. Southam 4 th W. Ayre Tenor
Composed by G.E. Williams Conducted by W. Ayre .
Designer: Martin Webb. His mark in the east base is a black and white house martin soaring, wings displayed and inverted, a rebus, and signed below, single line majs: Martin Webb S. Albans 1951.
Executed 1951 by Martin Webb.
The bell ringers paid for the insertion and the artist gave his services. He was also a bellringer.
Martin Webb was the youngest son of Christopher Webb, St Albans , stained glass artist. (There is a small triangular window dated 1952, designed by C. Webb, signed and painted by Martin Webb, in the upper east wall of the south aisle. On his return from National Service, circa 1950, he spent a couple of years in his father’s studio and then left. He did not continue in stained glass and became a stonemason. The design of figures standing on a bracketed base is a characteristic of his father’s designs, which can be seen in a 1931 two-light window in the north wall of the north transept of St Andrew’s Hertford, Herts. Similarly also influencing the design in Skeat’s window.
Central Tower 2 nd Stage. There are small, round encircled septfoil windows with radiating plain quarries in each face except the south, which contains the clock.