CANTERBURY HISTORICAL 

& ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY (CHAS)

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West Window (Nave)

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It is thought that the glass in this window, located at the west end of the nave, was completed around 1400.  It was created to honour King Richard II, who reigned between 1377 and 1399 when he was usurped by Henry Bolingbroke (Henry IV).  Richard’s Coat of Arms is in the very top of the window in the tracery, the small openings (lights) (Image 1) and the Coats of Arms of his two wives, Anne of Bohemia (Image 2), and Isabelle of France (Image 3), three lights to the left and right of his own.

 

The window, being above the main ceremonial doorway, was intended to be mainly secular in nature other than the top three rows of small lights which are saints and prophets.  The three rows of main lights were originally 21 regal ancestors of Richard from King Canute; now only the top row together with the central figure in the middle row remain from this time. These eight lights portray eight English kings at almost life size (162 cm high) and the top left is believed to be King Canute, but the names of the others are not known. These lights are therefore over 600 years old (Image 4).

 

The remaining 13 lights, that is the bottom two rows but for the central one on the middle row, were lost probably in the Civil War. In the late 18th century when there was much reordering of the war-damaged stained glass, the 13 figures in the lower two registers were removed from their original locations in the clerestory in the quire and placed in the lower two rows of lights. These figures are ancestors of Christ, being part of the series of 86 once in the choir. Each figure has its biblical names inscribed on it. They were all made before 1220. The most interesting one is that of Adam in the middle of the bottom row. He is shown ‘delving’ with a medieval spade, yellow wood with a pale blue metal cutting edge.  His skirt appears to have the hooves of the lamb still attached.  The single tree symbolises a garden (two trees would have indicated a forest!) and the golden clouds above his head (symbolising paradise). The figure of Adam was created in 1176.

 

What to see:

 

  • The coat of arms of Richard II also his two wives in the top of the window Images 1 to 3)

  • In the centre of the lowest register is Adam delving, perhaps the earliest glass in the Cathedral being made in about 1176 (Image 5).

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