Oldswinford & Stourbridge
Cradley Heath, Cradley
Wollescote & Kinver
Let us now move to the Mother church of the district and look at the East
window where I was called by the Rector to do some surgery on St Peter’s
left hand and wrist which had been broken by vandals. This was high up near
to the Majestus and meant working at the top of a tall swinging ladder.
Seeing the figures close up in the window they all appear very lovely as one
can see with this close up of the Patron Saint of the Oldswinford church.
A very colourful window can be seen in the Lady Chapel from the 1914 war
and is dedicated to the memory of Lt. Commander Grazebrook It depicts
Christ walking on the waters calming the waves. In the tracery can be seen
the flags of our allies of that time and amongst them is the Japanese
flag, which seems strange today considering that they were our bitterest
enemies during the Second World War.
And now we take a look at St John’s (Stourbridge) and see some good glass in
the East window, centred around the crucifixion scene.
The Majestus here comes from the large West window the gift of, the Fellows
family commemorating a son who was killed in action in the 1914 War, and
whose likeness is shown in small panels at the base of the window.
The Sower – leaving the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral – at the glass
works with a group of workers – and with the school rugger team at King
Two panels showing the diversity of types in the Worcs. regiment.
Just down New Road to the Methodist Church to see the glass there with three
small panels in the sanctuary. Above one of the entrance doors is a window
of exceptional beauty and is the creation of Miss Florence Camm of the
Smethwick firm of that name. Miss Camm was a fine and talented artist who
had some of her work exhibited at the Royal Academy. This window, which was
the gift of Mrs Fellows of Stourbridge, is an outstanding example of her
work. Although it portrays Christ blessing the little children, this was no
Pot-Boiler, it being so different from the usual run-of-the-mill windows.
The idea however is not original and is a copy of a similar window at
Claverley church, by Davis of the Bromsgrove guild. As you can see it shows
Christ as a boy with playmates all around, with butterflies, birdies and
bunnies and baa-lambs. It is set in a very warm colour key and is one of the
most exquisitely beautiful pieces of stained glass around. See here the
great character portrayed in the face of the young Christ and observe the
very natural attitudes of the children. Some of you may know this lovely
work of art but those who do not, do please go and see it for yourself and
then, if possible, see the one at Claverley which is even better.
Now comes the bad news. Some years ago a sum of money was left by Mr Hickman
of Stourton for a window to be placed opposite to that very fine one and I
was asked to prepare ideas for this to match up with it. At that time I was
helping one or two of the very good students at Foley College and suggested
that the work be done there as a project and I would supervise the work.
Nothing came of this as I imagine that the Fine Art Director and teacher
took fright after seeing the window which had to be matched. Months went by
and one of the College teachers came to see me and told me he had got the
job to do the window and would I make it for him to his design. I told him,
‘Not on your Nelly!’, as it would be a sin to put his type of work in a
church which had traditional stained glass. I there and then washed my hands
of the whole business.
The window eventually went into the church and I leave it to you to judge
how it matches up to the Camm window opposite. Mr Hickmann was musically
minded and I think some representation of music should have been
incorporated into the window instead of those horrid psychedelic squiggles.
He was also a great friend of Mr Stanley Griffiths and I dread to think what
he would have made of this awful window.
The lamp was made by me for Mr Stanley Griffiths some years ago and hangs
above the pulpit.
The offices of Mr Jack Downing on the opposite side of New Road also contain
glass from the Camm studios, consisting of fragments of stained glass all
harmoniously joined together.
The Carlisle Hall also opposite was built to preach the virtues of
temperance and contains a memorial window to Mary Stevens to whose memory we
should all be ever grateful, for the gift of that wonderful park. A
photographic likeness of Mary Stevens appears on the window in the central
group representing Benevolence, while on either side are figures
representing Temperance and Courage. What a headache for an artist to make
up an allegorical figure of Temperance. One usually turns to a text book and
a well known one comes to mind, Emblems of Saints. But what saint was this
Temperance? So, probably in desperation, he shows the figure pouring the
wine down the drain. The other figure, of Courage is now synonymous with a
very famous brewer of that name.
Let us take a look at the church of St Thomas and see the large East window
above the altar, where the risen Lord can be seen with the disciples grouped
around. From the shape and appearance of the leaded ornament used to fill up
the empty spaces, it looks very much to be the work of Samuel Evans in
Victorian times. About a hundred years or more ago he employed something
like sixty people churning out stained glass of all kinds during the great
churchgoing boom of Victoria’s days. The three story factory building which
he built was only demolished a few months ago. It used to be said that most
of the stained glass firms around Birmingham were started by men who learned
at the works of Samuel Evans of Smethwick. I worked for a time at the firm
of Evans & Co., a minor offshoot of Samuel Evans workshops.
The vicar of St Thomas’ drew my attention to what he termed the cross-eyed
disciple, and I must say it does seem to be so.
There are some quite hard expressions upon the faces, particularly on those
in the West window.
Other lights in the church are from the Camm studios and are inserted into
clear panes of antique glass.