Cirencester Angels / by Sasha Ward

I don't know much about angelology and there's so much to learn. I've been visiting and taking photographs of the windows in Cirencester Parish Church; in many of the top lights there are yellow stained glass angels from various periods which are interesting to compare.

Trinity Chapel - two of four windows                                          Click on any of these pictures to enlarge.

In my opinion, the medieval angels are easily the best and I have read that the glass in Cirencester once rivalled the famous early sixteenth century windows of nearby Fairford. Two different  guides told me with great relish that most of the medieval windows here were deliberately broken by the "women of Cirencester" as they tried to get supplies to the soldiers holed up inside the church during the Civil War. 

The most fantastic angels are the seraphim with peacock feather wings, below right, all the better in my eyes for the breaks and random insertions. They are also the favourite of W.T. Beeby writing for The Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society in 1916.

"Their wings, six in number, cover the greater portion of their body, and are wonderfully feathered, with many eyes as of peacock's feathers, and the yellow stain used in the designs is very clear and brilliant. Mr. James Powell, of Whitefriars, than whom there could have been no better judge, thought the colouring of these seraphim as beautiful as any he had seen. They furnish an excellent instance of the brilliance and vivacity of good fifteenth century glass".

Trinity Chapel - details of medieval angels                                 Lady Chapel - Seraphim with peacock feather wings 

North aisle, west window - Victorian glass by Hardman                                                      Details

South window - Victorian glass by Hardman                                                                                                     Detail

The yellow angels theme was continued in the top tracery lights in a number of Hardman windows, two examples are shown above. These angels standing on wheels puts them in the third ranking Order of Angels, two ranks below the seraphim. 

The guides in the church, the same ones who slandered the women of Cirencester, have all told me that the Hugh Easton window (below) is their favourite. Surely it's not because of these military yellow angels with the boring clear backgrounds, maybe it's the rest of the window which I haven't shown because the point of this piece is to look up at the intricate shapes in the tracery and marvel at the ingenious ways that angels have been fitted in to them.

South aisle, west window - Hugh Easton 1937-8                                                                          Details