St Stephen’s has a wonderful collection of stained glass windows, representing the widely differing styles that have been fashionable since the church was built in the middle of the nineteenth century.
In particular, the church is noted for an important series of windows by William Morris. They have been beautifully photographed below by Carl Symes (click on each photo to see an enlarged version).
When the church was completed in 1865, Morris’ famous firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. had only recently been formed, and the windows at St Stephen’s were among the firm’s earliest work.
Whilst Morris was responsible for the overall design of his windows, for the actual scenes and figures he employed various pre-Raphaelite artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Philip Webb and Edward Burne-Jones.
The first pair of Morris windows is located in the north aisle of the church. The first pair of small lancets are part of a registered Naval memorial. The lancet on the left, ‘Elias prophetas’, depicts the prophet Elijah, with one of the ravens which fed him in the wilderness.
The one on the right, ‘Josias Rex Juda’, depicts King Josiah.
Next to this pair of lancets is another pair, depicting two prophets, Isaiah (carrying a saw) and Jeremiah (wringing his hands).
Behind the altar in the Lady Chapel, the east window shows the Virgin Mary and St John the Baptist. Both are by William Morris, although the latter is executed in a different style. It is generally accepted that the face of the Virgin Mary is based on that of Morris’ wife, Jane (née Burden); and that the face of St John the Baptist is based on that of Morris himself.
There is another Morris window which depicts the Jewish hero Judas Maccabeus. It was reputedly placed in the north wall of what is now the Lady Chapel. It is thought to have been removed when the present windows were installed in 1920. The Morris window, now restored, is displayed in a light box halfway down the north aisle of the church.
Standing in the Chancel and facing the High Altar, one can see two side lancet windows by Morris, showing the Twelve Apostles.
On the left are depicted (from top to bottom) Thomas, James Minor, John, James Major, Andrew and Peter.
On the right are depicted (from top to bottom) Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, Thaddeus and Paul (in the place of Judas Iscariot).
Standing on the chancel steps and looking towards the west end of the church, one can see St Stephen’s most notable Morris window. Opposite the high altar, the ‘Tree of Jesse’ window trances the lineage of Jesus. ‘A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of its roots’ – Isaiah 11. 1. Jesse is pictured at the base of the centre light, while the three lights trace the line from Abraham to St Joseph, with Joseph, Mary and the Infant Jesus at the top.
A full catalogue of all of the stained glass windows (Under Angel Wings) at St Stephen’s was published in 2010 by Linda Carrington. If you would like to read it or download it, you may do so here: