A WM Wiltshire Stained Glass Tour / by Sasha Ward

 Map of North Wiltshire showing the location of the three churches - it's about seven miles between Sopworth and the other two.

Map of North Wiltshire showing the location of the three churches - it's about seven miles between Sopworth and the other two.

We started at St Mary's Sopworth, where a low, south facing three light window shows Mary Magdalene, The Virgin Mary and Mary of Cleopas. I had never seen a reproduction of this window and was amazed at how beautiful it looked, with lovely colour, detail and organisation of the background space. The figures were originally designed for Bradford Cathedral, the central Mary by Edward Burne-Jones, the outer two by William Morris. The Mary of Cleopas panel is simple and stunning - I've always heard that Morris couldn't do figures, perhaps it's the skilled glass painter's work that I admire the most.

Window in St. Mary's Church, Sopworth and detail of the right hand panel. EBJ & WM 1873. Click to enlarge.

Next we went to Malmesbury Abbey to see a much later Edward Burne-Jones window. These figures I did recognise from their appearance in earlier windows made by the firm of Morris and Company, where Faith was originally St. George, Courage originally King Ethelbert of Kent and Devotion a centurion. The backgrounds and foliage are also quite standard, but fit well with the lofty space of the Abbey. Painted details, especially on the clothes, are as usual fantastic.

The Luce Window, Malmesbury Abbey. Made by Morris & Company in 1901 to designs by EBJ. Click to enlarge.

Three miles south of Malmesbury is Holy Rood Church, Rodbourne, with some small windows made in the early years of the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company. The designs are by Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti; there is also a pelican roundel by Philip Webb in another small window. I love Rossetti's angel and the crucifixion with red background above it. These must have been painted in the period when the firm's paint recipe contained unstable elements because much of the lettering and detail has come off. Strangely the paintwork on the pelican roundel is still perfect, lovingly painted too.

Holy Rood, Rodbourne. Left: The Fall by FMB. Above: Annunciation by DGR.  Pelican roundel by Philip Webb. Click to enlarge.