20 September 2019

Four windows and
Kempe’s masterpiece
in Lichfield Cathedral

The window in memory of John Toke Godfrey-Faussett depicts Saint Stephen before the Council (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

During my visit to Lichfield Cathedral, I went in search of some more windows by Charles Eamer Kempe (1837-1907), one of the great stained-glass artists of Victorian England.

A pair of windows in the south quire aisle show scenes from the Acts of the Apostles. I missed photographing Kempe’s window showing a scene in the Acts of the Apostles where Saint Peter and Saint John heal a lame man by the Beautiful Gate in the Temple (see Acts 3).

The healing theme was chosen because this window is in memory of Dr Halford Wotton Hewitt, a Lichfield medical doctor and magistrate, who died in 1891.

The window beside it is in memory of John Toke Godfrey-Faussett and depicts Saint Stephen before the Council (Acts 7: 1-53). Having addressed the Council, he looks up and declares, ‘Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God’ (Acts 7: 56).

This Biblical scene was chosen because John Toke Godfrey Faussett was a prominent lawyer in Victorian Lichfield. The inscription reads: ‘Giving thanks to God, for the loved and honoured memory of John Toke Godfrey-Faussett of The Friary, Lichfield, who entered into rest on Christmas Day, 1893, in his 59th year, his sister dedicates this window, 1895.’

John Toke Godfrey-Faussett, a son of Canon Godfrey Faussett, was educated at Charterhouse (1848-1853), and Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1857, MA 1860), and was a member of the Inner Temple. He was a magistrate in Lichfield and district registrar of the probate court in Lichfield.

The Patterson window depicts King David instructing musicians (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The Patterson window on the north quire aisle was made by Kempe in 1890 in honour of the Revd William St George Patterson (1817-1890).

The text illustrated is I Chronicles 16, 4-7, in which King David instructs the musicians in the music of the sanctuary: ‘Here King David, inspired by God the Holy Ghost, instructeth the Chief Musician and the sons of Korah in the music of the sanctuary.’

The dedication reads: ‘Giving thanks to God, for the loved and honoured memory of William St George Patterson, MA, Divinity Lecturer and Sub-Chanter of this Cathedral Church from 1846 to 1890. His children surviving dedicate this window.’

The Lucock window shows Saint Peter in chains preaching (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Beside the Patterson window, a colourful, three-light window shows Saint Peter in chains preaching. This window commemorates the Very Revd Herbert Mortimer Luckock (1833-1909), who was instrumental in building All Saints’ Church on Jesus Lane, Cambridge, and later was Dean of Lichfield (1892-1909).

He was educated at Marlborough College (1848-1850) and Shrewsbury School (1850-1853), and was elected to a scholarship at Jesus College, Cambridge (BA 1858, MA 1862, BD and DD 1879).

Luckock was ordained deacon in 1860 by Samuel Wilbeforce, Bishop of Oxford. For a time, he worked at Clewer with Canon Thomas Thellusson Carter (1808-1901) and with Mother Harriet Monsell (1811-1883) from Limerick, the subject of my lecture in Ardagh, Co Limerick, last week [13 September 2019].

He was elected to a fellowship at Jesus College in 1862, and was appointed to a college living as Vicar of All Saints’ Church, Cambridge, one of the best-preserved Victorian Anglo-Catholic Gothic Revival churches in England.

Luckock was the first principal of Ely Theological College (1876-1887), and was appointed Dean of Lichfield in 1892. At Lichfield Cathedral, he advanced the character of the cathedral services, and promoted the restoration of the fabric, and he rebuilt Saint Chad’s Chapel at his own cost.

A plaque under this memorial window reads: ‘In grateful memory of the life and example of Herbert Mortimer Luckock, DD, Dean of Lichfield 18 December 1892 to 24 March 1909. This window was dedicated 31 May 1911, the united gift of many in honour of one to whose loving care and generosity this cathedral church bears witness.’

‘The Tree of the Church’ (1895) by Charles Kempe in the south transept (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Kempe’s other windows in Lichfield Cathedral include the Hacket window, showing Bishop Hacket’s restoration of the cathedral in the 1660s.

But perhaps his most magnificent work in the cathedral is his ‘The Tree of the Church’ (1895) in the south transept. This was the first important work of Kempe’s new draughtsman, John Lisle, and it has been described as ‘one of the finest achievements not simply of the [Kempe] Studio but of nineteenth-century stained glass as a whole.’

The central figures in the upper part of the window is Christ in Glory surrounded by four of altogether eight angels. The saints depicted in the window include Saint Chad holding a model of Lichfield Cathedral, with Saint Columba and Saint Aidan either side of him.

Below Saint Chad is Saint Augustine of Canterbury, flanked by Saint Wilfred of Worcester and Saint Hugh of Lincoln. These and the other saints all have their identifying symbols and garb, and many heraldic symbols that typify Kempe’s approach to design.

High in the tracery are Kempe’s trademark wheatsheaves and the monogram of his master glazier, Alfred Tombleson (1852-1943).

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