Saint George

 The Great East Window


'The Travers window must be one of the largest he designed. It is in his characteristic style of the 1930s, which blends elements derived from late 15th century English/French stained glass with an attractively contemporary style of drawing. As always in Travers' work, the lettering is beautifully designed and plays an important part in the overall design.' - Peter Cormack

Howard Martin Otho Travers (1886-1948) was educated at Tonbridge School, entered the Royal College of Art at South Kensington in 1904, and took his diploma in architecture in 1908. He was awarded the Grand Prix for stained glass at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris. From 1925 until the time of his death he was head of stained glass at the Royal College of Art, with the honorary title of 'Professor'. 

On 16 May 1935 St George's Parochial Church Council learnt that an anonymous donor wished to provide a new window for the church and on 10 July it was reported that Mr Travers, who had been recommended by the London Diocesan Advisory Board, had visited the building. He was of the opinion that a window could be placed over the high altar for 600 and he would prepare a design. The PCC tendered their best thanks to Mr Travers on 15 October, accepting the design but requesting that the figure of 'King Charles' be deleted and substituted by that of another martyr; the minutes for this meeting were signed on 30 January 1936, the anniversary of Charles' executuion. Travers' own partial account of the scheme appeared in the Parish Magazine of April 1937. The window was dedicated on 7 March 1937 and the design was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1938. The following notes are largely based on Travers' own explanation and the work of NADFAS.

The theme of the window is the 'Te Deum' as found in Morning Prayer in the 'Book of Common Prayer'. Travers comments that the verses incorporated in the design serve a decorative and explanatory purpose but that the lettering is 'not intended to be so obvious that "who runs may read" '. The quotation is from the poem for Septuagesima in John Keble's 'The Christian Year' ('There is a book, who runs may read ...') which, like the 'Te Deum', tells of the worship of God both in heaven and on earth.

The central group of tracery lights depicts the Hand of God amid rays of glory, suggesting blessing, power and guidance and symbolizing THE FATHER OF AN INFINITE MAJESTY.

There are four cherubs, each consisting of a head and red and pink wings - TO THEE ALL ANGELS CRY ALOUD THE HEAVENS AND ALL THE POWERS THEREIN - all against a blue sky with white stars and blue and white clouds. The Hand of God against a yellow cruciform is contained in a yellow-bordered red roundel. A yellow ray of light descending from the Hand of God streams down towards the head of Christ - THINE HONOURABLE TRUE AND ONLY SON. In the starry firmament to the left of the ray of light is a yellow sun and to the right is a white-rayed blue moon.

Superimposed on the ray of light, just above Christ's halo, is a yellow-rayed roundel containing the white Holy Dove - THE HOLY GHOST THE COMFORTER - with a red and white cruciform halo. The Dove's yellow feet are shown ready to land.

Christ in majesty as Lord and Redeemer is seated on the emerald rainbow (Rev. 4:3) within a yellow-rayed mandorla with his feet resting on the globe of the world (Isa 66:1). His red halo has a white cross, patty fitchy, and he is wearing a red-lined white cloak draped over the lower part of his body leaving his chest bare. It is fastened at the neck with a rectangular yellow clasp and ties. His right hand is raised in blessing and nimbed with seven white stars on a black roundel (Rev.1:16). His left hand rests on an open book with yellow-edged pages displaying text from Rev. 1:18: I AM HE THAT LIVETH AND WAS DEAD AND BEHOLD I AM ALIVE FOR EVERMORE. Flanking the mandorla is the sacred monogram for Jesus Christ Victor in red capitals on a black band: IC XC NIKA.

On Christ's right kneel six of THE GLORIOUS COMPANY OF THE APOSTLES and on his left six more. Each has a yellow halo. Described from the viewer's left to right are:

i. St James the Great dressed in a yellow robe beneath a black cloak patterned with white scallop shells. There is a white scallop shell on his black hat and a pilgrim's staff is propped against his right shoulder.
ii. St Paul in a green robe and a white cloak and holding a sword between his praying hands.
iii. St Thomas wearing a white robe and a red cloak, with his spear tucked under his right arm.

iv. St Andrew with a white cloak and a blue robe and holding his saltire cross between his arms.
v. St Jude (or St Matthias) in a white robe and a brown cloak with his halberd leaning against his right shoulder.
vi. St Peter dressed in a white robe and yellow cloak and carrying two keys in his right hand.

vii. St John the Evangelist wearing a white robe and a purple cloak and carrying a yellow cup containing a green-winged serpent.
viii. St Bartholomew in a white robe and yellow cloak and carrying a flaying knife between his praying hands.
ix. St Matthew wearing a blue robe and a white cloak. His gospel in the form of a scroll tied with red banding is held against his left shoulder. Below lies an open scroll depicting his discarded accounts.

x. A partially obscured figure in a white robe and blue cloak with no visible attribute.
xi. St Matthias (or St Jude) dressed in a yellow robe and white cloak with a halberd held between his praying hands, the head of which is resting on the ground.
xii. St James the Less in a white robe and light maroon cloak with his fuller's club leaning against his left shoulder.

Below Christ on his right kneels the Blessed Virgin Mary - THOU DIDST NOT ABHOR THE VIRGIN'S WOMB. She has a yellow halo and wears a pink-lined red gown with a blue mantle drawn up to cover her head. It has a white border.

Opposite her kneels St John the Baptist - THOU DIDST OPEN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN TO ALL BELIEVERS (through baptism). He has a yellow halo and is clothed in camel skin with his red cross-staff leaning against his left shoulder. Both figures kneel on a blue cloud.

Behind them are THE GOODLY FELLOWSHIP OF THE PROPHETS to Christ's right and THE NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS to Christ's left.

Eight of the nine prophets kneeling to Christ's right have no attributes, so cannot be identified, but they each have a yellow hexagonal halo indicating that they are Old Testament figures. They are described from the viewer's left to right as wearing:

i. a blue robe and white cloak; ii. a yellow-bordered white cloak held with a circular brooch, over a light-maroon robe; iii. a white and yellow-striped cloak over a red robe; iv. a blue robe and a white cloak fastened witha circular yellow pearl-bordered brooch;

v. only a small portion of this figure can be seen; vi. a light-maroon robe and white cloak; vii. a white robe (but mainly behind the Virgin); viii. a green robe and yellow-bordered white cloak (in front of the Virgin).

Beneath Christ's feet to his right is King David in a light-maroon robe and ermine cloak. The cloak is embroidered with a yellow monogram DR (David Rex) and he is playing a harp.

Opposite the prophets are the kneeling martyrs, each with a yellow halo. From the viewer's left to right are:

i. St Stephen in a white alb and yellow-bordered blue dalmatic, with a yellow-fringed maniple over his left arm. His head is tonsured and there are three stones on the hem of his dalmatic.
ii. St George dressed in armour over which is a white tabard with a red cross.

iii. St Clement, with bishop's mitre, in a light-maroon coat with an apparel of the amice. Part of his attribute, an anchor, can be seen.
iv. A largely obscured figure with a tonsured head and a white robe.
v. St Catherine of Alexandria wearing a coronet over a white veil and a purple gown, with her wheel beside her.

vi. St Edmund in a blue robe and white ermin-bordered cloak, witha red arrow leaning against his left shoulder.
vii. St Alban dressed in armour. Worn over it is a blue tunic with a yellow saltire cross. He also wears a red-lined white cloak.
viii. St Alphage in a yellow-lined white cope embroidered with black lozenges bearing the yellow capital letter A. The cope is fastened with an oval white morse. He is wearing a white and gold mitre.
ix. St Barbara wearing a coronet over a white veil, and a green gown with a rope wound around her waist.

At the foot of the central light is a scrolled cartouche with text on a multi-coloured background.
Behind the cartouche and stretching across all five lights is a panorama of churches and cathedrals - THE HOLY CHURCH THROUGH ALL THE WORLD - against a blue sky and green hills. Travers mentions that these buildings include the Duomo, Florence; Notre Dame, Paris; Canterbury Cathedral and St Paul's, London. These remain the only buildings identified to date.

In a white rectangle to the left of St Paul's is the inscription: GIVEN FOR THE ADORNMENT OF GOD'S HOUSE BY A MEMBER OF THIS CONGREGATION ANNO D-M-NI 1936.

For further information on Martin Travers and his work at St George's see MartinTravers and Adorning St George's


headstone, harrow