Saint Helen

Words and Pictures by Sasha Ward

Details from the patchwork windows in the North Aisle

These photos are all from the ancient parish church of Saint Michael and All Angels in Ashton-under-Lyne, where the restored fifteenth century glass has been installed at eye level in the North and South Aisle windows. There are beautifully made patchwork style windows in the North Aisle, with some mysterious figures, a useful inscription and the five pointed star from the coat of arms of the Assheton family.

The set of four windows in the South Aisle depicts the life of Saint Helen, and in windows 3 & 4, members of the Assheton family who donated them. 

Window 3 South Aisle: Saint Helen above, Asshetons below.

Detail: lower central panel, window 3

I'm not usually that bothered about the iconography,  but these portraits grabbed my attention initially because of the huge black family stars on their stomachs. Then the inscriptions are easy to read, I could even make out the names of Thomas Assheton and his wives Agnes, Elizabeth and Anne surrounded by gorgeous painted patterns.

Two of the lower panels in window 2 that depict the life of Saint Helen, translations below

Hic inveniebant tres cruces an aliis et veram crucem non discernebant                                                            Here they found three crosses and could not tell which was the true cross

Hic crucem veram petentes fodiunt                                                                                                                      Here they dig in search of the true cross

I found these translations in a great guide book to the Saint Helen windows by members of The Friends of Ashton Parish Church with not only word by word translations of each inscription but also grammatical notes - so useful for latin revision.