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Bridlington Priory Church South Aisle Windows
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Bridlington Priory Church South Aisle Windows
The first window from the East in the South aisle has for its subject the Apostle Paul. The oak screen which separates the Sacrarium from the Rector's vestry rather obtrudes itself when the window is viewed from the chancel, but even from this position the colourful beauty of the glass can be seen.
Some of the chief events in the life of St. Paul are depicted. The first light from the East depicts his conversion on the road to Damascus. The artist depicts our Lord as emerging from the flaming radiance of the noonday sun and addressing Saul (as he was called then ).
Saul is shown as tumbled on the ground while the soldiers who accompanied him are trying to quieten their startled steeds. In the background are to be seen the walls of Damascus. The inscription reads as follows, taken from Acts ix 3: "And suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven".
The middle panel shows St. Paul witnessing before King Agrippa. Roman soldiers are shown as being in attendance and St. Paul appears to be without fetters.
The quotation is from Acts xxvi 27: "King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets ? I know that thou believest".
The western-most panel depicts yet another important event in the life of St. Paul. He is shown on the island of Melita after being shipwrecked. The Apostle gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire which had been kindled: as he did so a viper, driven out of the sticks by the heat of the fire fastened itself on his hand. The barbarians saw it and immediately said: "No doubt this man is a murderer. He has escaped the sea but now vengeance pursues him". But Paul shook the viper off into the fire and felt no harm. On seeing this the people changed their minds and said: "He is a god". The inscription reads: "But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon".
Further incidents in the life of the Apostle are depicted in the cinquefoil, while in the topmost cusping is portrayed the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove with outspread wings. Immediately below from left to right are scenes showing St. Paul praying, teaching and preaching.
Moving westwards the second window from the East in the South aisle depicts certain events in the ministry of our Blessed Lord. In the cinquefoil in the apex of the arch there is depicted the Ascension. The figure of our Lord is to be seen ascending while grouped around are the eleven disciples. In the eastern-most panel of this window our Lord is shown healing the Blind Man, and the inscription follows the question, "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee ? The blind man said unto Him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole". In the centre panel the artist vividly depicts our Lord calling Lazarus from the grave. The quotation is from St. John's Gospel xi 25: "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live".
The western-most panel of this delightful window depicts our Lord standing in the ship on the Sea of Galilee during a great storm which terrified the disciples, experienced fishermen though they were, so that they cried out to our Lord, Who was asleep on a pillow in the ship.
"Master, carest Thou not that we perish ? And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased and there was a great calm"
In the third window ( in the Chapel) from the East, the chief message throughout is concerning our Blessed Lord. The eastern-most panel is a Nativity scene, with a richness of detail. Towards the top of the panel is to be seen the Star of Bethlehem over the Virgin Mother and Holy Child.
While below are to be seen the Wise Men from the East worshipping the Christ Child and presenting their gifts.
The inscription reads: "They saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him". The middle panel depicts the Transfiguration of our Lord. With Him are shown Moses and Elijah. Immediately below are shown the three disciples, who accompanied our Lord: Peter, James and John. The quotation given is from St. Matthew's account: "And His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light". The Western-most panel depicts the Resurrection of our Lord. Rarely has a scene in painted glass embraced so effectively as much detail without detracting from the central theme of the panel. In the background is shown the empty tomb while in the foreground is depicted Mary still carrying her spices which she had brought to the sepulchre. Here, she recognises our Blessed Lord risen from the dead.
The artist with inimitable skill has portrayed just that moment of recognition, and the inscription also shows this, which reads as follows: "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father", It will be observed that the scene in the cinquefoil is also one of the Resurrection. Here our Lord is depicted rising in power and majesty while the guard of soldiers beneath depicts the Gospel account by showing one soldier asleep while another is seen falling backwards in fear and amazement. The inscription reads: "He is risen, as He said".
It will be agreed that these three windows which we have just reviewed express clearly without any flight of imagination the sober facts, concerning each event portrayed, as they are recorded in the New Testament. At the same time there is nothing static about the scenes. The expression on the faces of the characters and their posture, combined with the additional detail in the background, have the effect of conveying to the mind's eye an impression of life-like reality.
The first window beyond the Oak Screen is recent work, the original window having been destroyed by bombs during the War 1939-45. This window of unsurpassed beauty and historical interest was designed and executed by the eminent artist Gerald E. R. Smith, who designed that remarkable window, erected to the memory of the great musician Sir Henry Wood, in St. Sepulchre Church, Holborn. In the centre light is shown St. John of Bridlington who became Prior in 1362 and was canonised in 1401. Here he is depicted as the humble man of God going forth as pastor and teacher, carrying his staff and Bible.
In the lower corner the earthenware vessel is symbolic of his earlier position of Cellarer at the Priory. On the left the cherub offers the armorial of the Prior who was also Lord of the Manor. There are also the insignia of the Mitred Prior - the mitre, pastoral staff and, iii the centre at the base of the light, the ring set with ruby. The medallion under the mitre is a reproduction of the Priory's Seal.
In the light to the left is depicted Robert the Scribe, who flourished as Prior during the latter half of the twelfth century. Here he is shown in his scriptorium at work on one of his transcriptions. He was the first to establish the Priory's reputation as a centre of literary activity and historical study.
George Ripley, the fifteenth century alchemist of European fame, is depicted in the light on the right. He is shown in his laboratory. His finger still keeps the place in the book which he has been reading, while in the other hand he holds a vessel in which there is a strange fluid. Is he wondering whether he has found the elixir of life for which he vainly sought? Note the pestle and mortar, the retort and lighted candle. Fuller details of these illustrious sons of the Priory are to be found under the section on the history of the Priory.
In the design of the tracery the trefoil on the left shows a sailing ship of the fourteenth century, similar to that used by the monks, and on the right a modern fishing boat, thus. symbolising the link of the sea which has bound together Priory and Town over long centuries.
The cinquefoil in the centre shows at the base a Madonna lily in which are set the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child. On each side is shown a rose of Sharon, and on the banner the words: "The Blessed Virgin Mary" thus referring to the dedication title of the Priory.
The window over the South door has three figures, Faith, Hope and Charity. Bridlington Priory written by the late John. W. Lamb, M.A., Ph.D.