West Window

Our West Window was designed by Mr Percy Haydon-Bacon and donated by Matilda Turner as a memorial to her sister Martha who died in 1927.   This shows Christ the Consoler surrounded by 20 characters from the Bible and the early Christian Church.  No records about the Turner sisters have been discovered, nor the reasons behind the choice of the people depicted in the window. However, we may gain some idea from those who appear in the window:

Leftmost panel

West window panel

West window panel 1

I start with the panel on the extreme left depicting five men.  At the top, with a dove to his right, is St Francis of Assisi (1181 – 1226), the Patron Saint of the environment and of animals, and founder of the Franciscan Order.  Next below him is the Old Testament character Jonathan; the love between him and David, who is not depicted, is recognised as one of the closest bonds of love between two people.  Did the Turner sisters have a brother or close friend named Jonathan, or does this reflect their love for one another and is the inclusion of St Francis an indication that they were animal lovers? St Birinus (c. 600 – 650) with pastoral staff, chalice and wafer occupies the mid-position. He was sent as a missionary to Britain by the Pope and became the first Bishop of Dorchester.  The association with Emmer Green is twofold: until 1911 Caversham was in Oxfordshire and would have been in the Oxford Archdeaconry; Birinus is said to have laid the foundation stone of the original church on the site of the Minster Church of St Mary in the Butts. Next to the base is Moses holding the stone on which it is presumed are the Ten Commandments, attention to which was much greater by our forebears.  Finally at the bottom is St Barnabas who is shown holding a scroll.  As our Patron Saint he is well known to us as the encourager, the one who brought Saul (later known as Paul) to the apostles, a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.  He was no doubt an encourager to the Misses Turner as indeed he is to us today.

Second panel from left

West window panel

West window panel 2

This panel contains five women, the top two of which have some relationship with the Christmas season. St Cecilia of Rome, the patron saint of musicians and church music, is at the top of the panel. Of noble birth she was martyred between 176 and 180 AD and her feast day is 22 November. Below her is Anna the prophetess who was present in the Temple at the time of the presentation of the infant Jesus (Luke 2. 36 – 38). St Frideswide, Abbess and Patron Saint of Oxford (c. 665 -735 AD, is next portrayed. She appears to be holding a pitcher, probably filled with water from the holy well at Binsey with which she is associated. Much could be written about her; suffice it to say that Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral is built on the site of her Saxon abbey in which she was burned. In the Cathedral there is a shrine to St Frideswide and behind it a large window, 16 panels of which tell her life story. Her feast day is on 19 October. The lower two panels show the Old Testament character, Ruth the Moabitess, and St. Dorothea of Caesarea. Ruth, who shows great loyalty to her widowed mother-in-law and who becomes the great grandmother of King David, is depicted with the gleanings from the field of corn in her arms (Ruth 2). St Dorothea of Caesarea was martyred c.311 AD. She is the Patron Saint of gardeners, so called because as she went to her death she arranged for roses and apples to be sent to one who mocked her; in the window she is depicted with flowers and fruit in her arms. She is commemorated on 6 February. Again we know nothing behind the choice of the women in this window but from this panel we may surmise that the Turner sisters had a love of gardening and of music.

© Copyright words and pictures Owen Jewiss

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