Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday

Introduction: Richard de Strelley's chancel is distinguished by the five light east window, pictured here in 1902, a fine example of the curvilinear or flowering period of the Decorated style (1315-1360). The three light windows at the side are perfect examples of tangent circle or reticulated tracery. Regrettably, much of the ancient stained glass has been lost, except for the small upper tracery window where fragments remaining include St. Catherine with her 'firework wheel' and three scriptural scenes: of Doubting Thomas thrusting his hand into the wounded side of Our Lord: Mary Magdalene talking to Christ the gardener: Our Lord kneeling in agony in the garden.

This 1902 photograph shows the chancel and the beautiful east window.

The other stained glass in the church was replaced between 1896 and 1908. The major part of the East window was donated by Sir Charles Seely, Mrs Oldacres (widow of a previous vicar), and by the family of Mansfield Parkyns of Woodborough Hall. The lights represent the Virgin Mary in memory of Mrs Seely. Our Lord, for that of Mr & Mrs Mansfield Parkyns and their daughter. Finally, St. John in memory of the three Oldacres who had served Woodborough church from 1771 to 1876. Money for the lights representing St. Swithun and St. Paulinus was raised by the parish, the total cost of the window being £300. The side chancel of windows are partly the work of C E Kempe & Co., the north side has to the west stained glass of 1910 by William Morris & Co to a Burne-Jones design. The East end has a window with glass made by Kempe in 1897. In the south nave aisle they represent St. Cecilia (with an organ) and St. Agnes, given by Miss Oldacre. At the west end of the north aisle the glass represents St. Columba (with a church) and St. Aidan. In the adjacent window is St. Chad (with Litchfield Cathedral) and St. Hugh (with a model of Lincoln Cathedral). This window is dedicated to two long serving churchwardens, Edward Brett and Richard Ward. The latter also helped Mansfield Parkyns with the carved woodwork of the choir stalls and pulpit.

The Rev’d W E Buckland in his history of Woodborough writes:- “On either side of the East window two pedestals project, one supported by the head and arms of a King, perhaps Edward III who reigned from 1327 to 1377, the other by those of a woman, perhaps his Queen, Phillipa of Hainault. At the time of Buckland (1896) no figures stood on these pedestals but undoubtedly one once carried a figure of St. Swithun, for the Torre MSS at York says – ’10 August 1534. John Shirley of Wodborowe made his will proved 18 September 1534 giving his soul to God Almighty, Saint Mary and all Saints and his body to be buried in the Chancel of Wodborowe before St. Swithyn’. On one pedestal therefore St. Swithun should again be placed, as he is in Winchester, a Bishop bearing the model of the bridge which he built over the Itchen River”.

Rev’d Buckland wrote in the Church Magazine in 1895 that in Mr Oldacres time Miss Matthews, of Lambley House, the Lay-Rector, in consequence of a presentment made by the Churchwardens to the Bishop of Lincoln, removed the old stained glass and put in the present Cathedral glass. The East window was about half full of bits of the original stained glass, which were constantly falling out owing to the decay of the lead. Only the six winged seraph and the bits in the tracery of the N.W. and S.E. Chancel windows were left, the remainder being put in sacks and carried away by Mr. Thomas Blatherwick, of Blidworth, who was one of Miss Matthews' trustees. No one knows what was done with it, but the loss of this 14th century glass, however kaleidoscopic, is deeply to be regretted.

The original statues, on either side of the east window, were probably destroyed at the time of the Reformation. They were most likely to have been St. Paulinus on the north side and certainly St. Swithun therefore on the south side, because, in the 14th century it was required that parishioners provided ‘a principal image in the chancel of the saint in whose honour the church is dedicated'. Early Historians say that the figures of these two saints stood in the Middle Ages on two brackets bearing the faces of King Edward II and his Queen Phillipa. Similar carvings form the stops to the hood-mould outside the east window and are typical of this particular school of masons. The heads of this king and queen, together with that of the Black Prince, can also be seen supporting ribs of arches in Southwell Minster. 

St Paulinus was the missionary who brought Christianity to this part of England and Woodborough Church is dedicated to St Swithun. The legend is that the saint chose to be buried in the yard at Winchester Cathedral to let “the rain of Heaven” fall upon his grave. But, when the Monks later attempted to move his body into the Cathedral choir on July 15th, it then rained for 40 days and nights. As a memorial to her late husband, replacement statues were commissioned in 1958 by Mrs Rowan-Robinson, widow of the Rev’d R C Rowan-Robinson, who was vicar of Woodborough for 14 years from 1933 to 1947. Former schoolboy and resident of Woodborough, Mr Norman Binch, and at that time living in the Isle of Wight, undertook the commission which he completed in time for a dedication service on Whit Sunday in 1959.

This plan was drawn by H Gill for the Thoroton Society Transactions of 1908.

Nave windows
1: nave - north wall
2: nave - north wall     
3: nave - south wall
4: nave - south wall

The following sequence of articles, by an unknown author, but thought to be Jane Turner, appeared in several editions of the Woodborough Magazine between January 1952 and October 1953. They portray the stories of the Saints featured in the nine stained glass windows. Whilst the windows themselves may not be so old the Saints certainly are. It is believed these articles were written for the children of the Church Sunday School. [Ed 2003].


The Nave Windows 1 & 2 (north wall)

Window 2 : St. Hugh (1200 AD)

The picture of St. Hugh in his rich-looking Bishop's robes, which is next to St. Chad in the Children's Corner window, doesn't show what a simple, humble man he really was, except that perhaps the swan in his side tells us that he loved country things.

Hugh lived a hard life from the beginning, for when he was only eight he went into a monastery in France with his father and was told “You must learn not to play or trifle; I am bringing you up for God”. You might think that that would be an unhappy life, but he grew up happy and strong, so strong in character that when King Henry II of England asked him to start a Monastery in Somerset he refused to do it until the King paid the Saxons for what they had lost when they had been turned out of their homes.

Later he was made Bishop of Lincoln. He kept his own simple habits as much as he could, and when a beautifully dressed procession led him to his Consecration at Winchester he had his shabby luggage strapped to the back of his horse. It was at his Installation at Stow that a very large swan appeared on the lake. With others it was savage, but with Hugh it made friends and learnt to reach into his pockets for food; it would follow him about like a dog, even going indoors and up the stairs.

When King John came to the throne he pretended that he was going to help Hugh with his work “I trust you mean what you say” said the Bishop “you know that I hate lying”.  The King showed him the amulet (mascot) he wore. “Do you trust in a senseless stone?” asked Hugh, “trust in the living rock in heaven – the Lord Jesus Christ.  Anchor your hopes in Him and He will direct you”.

He died in London in 1280 AD just as the choir of St. Paul's was singing the Nunc Dimittis, and was buried in Lincoln Cathedral.

In our church window you will see that he holds a model of Lincoln Cathedral.

     To the glory of God and in
     memory of Richard Ward.
     Churchwarden 1875-1907,
     this window is dedicated.

(Richard Ward was one of those who helped Mansfield Parkyns with the wood carving in our Church).


The Nave Windows 3 & 4 (south wall)

Window 3 : St. Cecilia (martyred about 280 AD)

The next window we come to is the south side of the Nave near the Jacobean Altar Table.  Here is a picture of St. Cecilia holding a model of a pipe organ, so it is not surprising to learn that she is patron saint of musicians especially organists.
She lived nearly 1700 years ago in Rome, the daughter of rich parents, but all her life she helped the poor. She had a very sweet voice and played all kinds of instruments, but her heart was so full of joy that no instrument could utter it all, so it is said that she invented the organ “to pour forth the gladness of her soul in the praises of God”.

Later, she and her husband, Valerian, helped the families of Christians bereaved by persecution, and buried the bodies of those who had died for their Lord. Naturally the Prefect of Rome very soon heard of what they were doing and determined to stop it. First Valerian and his brother were killed and then Cecilia was brought before the Tribunal.

“Knowest thou not” said the Prefect “that I have the power of life and death”. And Cecilia replied, “thou canst indeed be a minister of death but not of life. The power of man is but as a bladder (balloon) which a needle can pierce and burst”. 

She was then condemned to be beheaded. In her house in Rome this inscription (1672 years old) can still be read – “this is the house in which S. Cecilia prayed”. The other half of the window has a picture of S. Agnes.

     To the glory of God, and in
     memory of Marianne, wife of
     Samuel Lealand Oldacres,
     this window is dedicated AD 1908

Window 4 : St. Hilda (died 680 AD)

When we go to the sea-side most of us spend at least part of time there in looking for shells, so it fits in rather well that in going round our Church Windows we have now got to St. Hilda who lived by the sea and is shown (in the window by the font) with three shells on the shield hanging on her crook.

Hilda was brought up by her Uncle Edwin (pagan King of Northumbria) and her Aunt Ethelburga (a Christian). She must have learnt of Jesus Christ from her Aunt and also from St. Paulinus (the Chaplain), for when at last her uncle the King was baptised at York in 627 AD the 13-year-old Hilda was baptised with him.

Twenty-five years later, after experience in other monasteries she was made the Abbess of Whitby Abbey. The secret of her success there was her power of expecting and drawing out the best of everyone. The monastery became a training school for the clergy; they went out inspired by St. Hilda’s own high ideal – “that the end of all learning is but to fit its possessor to serve God more perfectly”.

For the last 6 years of her life she suffered from a lingering sickness, but she went on teaching right to the end, when as Bede says, “she joyfully saw death approaching,or if I may speak in the words of our Lord, passed from death to life”.

St. Hilda is not commemorated in our Prayer Book, but in and around Whitby there are many Churches dedicated to her. In our Church window she is shown holding a model of Whitby Abbey, and has the inscription:

To the glory of God and
in loving memory of John
and Elizabeth Foster, of
this Parish, this window is
dedicated, AD. MCMIX.

[The Fosters are one of Woodborough’s oldest families]

Window 5 left: King David (1010 BC)

We now come to the Chancel windows, beginning with the one on the left as you face the altar. This window is one on its own, for it was made from drawings by the well-known artist Burne-Jones, while the other windows were designed by Mr C E Kempe. The glass of the East window was put in in 1896, before Mr Kempe added his special sign, but if you look at any of his windows (seven of them) you will see a little golden wheat-sheaf usually at the bottom left-hand corner.

The Burne-Jones window is divided into three parts with pictures of King David, St. Dorothea and St. John the Apostle. All the writing on it is in Latin;

a translation of the dedication is:

        His widow and daughter gave
        this is 1909 to the greater
        glory of God and in pious
        memory of Roby Thorpe.

The first section of the window has a picture of King David “the sweet singer” playing his harp, and below are the words (in Latin) “I have lifted up mine eyes”. At the bottom is a little picture of the infant Samuel with Ely the priest, and the words (also in Latin) “The Lord called the boy”. Everyone knows the story of David and Goliath, and if you read the books of Samuel in the Bible you will find that the life of the great man is a collection of good stories.

He was not always a good man, but when he did wrong he repented, and he loved God and used the gifts God had given him (music and poetry) to praise Him. He wrote some of the Psalms in our prayer book.

Window 9: The Great East Window:

St. Swithun, died July 2, 862 translated July 15, 971. Our Chancel, crowned by the East window, is considered to be one of the finest in Nottinghamshire villages (those of Hawton and Car Colston are said to be similar: if you are ever in these villages go and see if that's true).

The first section of the window shows St. Swithun, and since he is the patron saint of our Church most of us know something about him, even if it's only what happens if it rains on St. Swithun’s Day!

He was brought up in a monastery in Winchester and there he was ordained priest and later made Bishop, and there it was that, after 25 years as Bishop, Statesman and Historian, he died in 862 and it is in Winchester Cathedral that you can see his grave to-day.

It was his desire, being a holy and humble man that he should be buried in the Churchyard, but about 100 years after his burial there it was decided to move his bones into the Cathedral. Then a long spell of bad weather set in. This was the beginning of the popular superstition that if it rains on 15th July, the date of St. Swithun’s translation (that is the removal of his bones from Churchyard to Cathedral) it would rain for 40 days.

At the top of our very large east window are two angels, the right hand one being mostly made of the old glass (If you look at the window from the Churchyard you can see very clearly which is old glass and which is new).

In Isaiah’s vision (chapter 6, verse 2) the angels had 6 wings – “with twain he covered his face, with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly” – but our angels appear to have 8 wings.In the centre of the window is Our Lord on the Cross.

Sometimes an East window is of plain glass (I remember one looking out on a beautiful view of the South Downs and the sky, and at the bottom of the window was “The heavens declared the glory of God and firmament telleth His handiwork”), but wherever there is stained glass the central picture is almost always of the Crucifixion. Have you ever noticed any other picture there?

Round the Cross are these words – ihesus Xtus spes unica (Jesus Christ the only hope), the dedication is:

To the glory of God and in
loving memory of Mansfield Parkyns of Woodborough Hall,
and Emma Louisa his wife,
and Nora their eldest daughter.

On the left of the Cross is a picture of Mary the mother of our Lord, and that section has this dedication at the bottom:

To the glory of God and in
loving memory of Emily, wife
of Charles Seely of Sherwood
Lodge, Arnold.

(Have you noticed the little blue flowers – bluebells, scillas, and forget-me-nots – growing in the grass at Mary's feet and round the foot of the Cross?).

The next section of the East window shows St. John the Apostle. Earlier we wrote of the picture of him in the Burne-Jones window (made by the firm of William Morris) and it is interesting to see the very different ideas, which Burne-Jones and C.E. Kempe (the designer of all the other windows) had of the Apostle.

The window is dedicated:

To the glory of God and in loving
memory of Richard Oldacres, Samuel
Oldacres and Samuel Lealand Oldacres,
Priest of Woodborough 1771-1786.

Those who have read the Rev’d W E Buckland's History of Woodborough (1896) will know how much the village owes to these men. Richard Oldacres was appointed 1763 as Schoolmaster of the Montague Woods School on the site of the present Vicarage [now former vicarage Ed 2004]. Shortly afterwards he was ordained and was made stipendiary curate of Woodborough at a salary of £16 a year. (His salary as School-master was £30 a year). These amounts were soon increased, but were always small.

In 1785 the Rev’d. Samuel Oldacres, son of Richard, became curate and schoolmaster. In 1812 he was made Rector of Gonalston. The Rev’d. Samuel Lealand Oldacres, son of Samuel, was appointed curate and schoolmaster in 1837. On the death of the Rev. Charles Fowler (the non-resident incumbent) he became Vicar.

We ought to remember that these three men, and Montague Wood the founder of our School, were pioneers in the education of people. “They founded schools and taught the poor with money drawn from their own purses and not from the purses of taxpayers and ratepayers”. (In 1865 there were 63 children in the School). It was not until 1870 that the Education Act was passed which compelled every child to attend some efficient school and as a result in 1878 the Victorian school was built.

St. Paulinus (died 644 AD). The last section of the East Window shows St. Paulinus in the robes of an Archbishop, and at his feet is an angel holding two shields. The right-hand shield shows the arms of Southwell, the other arms are probably those of York.

We first hear of Paulinus when Pope Gregory sends him to England from Italy at the request of Augustine of Canterbury, then for 25 years nothing is known of him. But at the end of those 25 years, he takes part in a romantic story.
Princess Ethelburga, daughter of the King of Kent, was asked in marriage by Edwin the King of Northumbria. Ethelburga was a Christian and she only agreed to marry the pagan Edwin if she might take with her a Christian missionary. Paulinus was chosen, and so well did he do his work that eventually King Edwin became a Christian and helped him to teach the new Faith to the pagan people of Northumbria.

Paulinus travelled about the north of England teaching and baptising in the rivers. One of those riverside baptisms was on the shores of the Trent near to what is now Southwell. The memory of that scene was stamped for life on the mind of one of the converts who loved to tell how “he had been baptised by the Bishop Paulinus in the presence of King Edwin” and then he described Paulinus as “tall of stature, a little stooping, his hair black, his face emaciated, his nose slender and aquiline, his aspect both venerable and majestic”.

In the year 627 Paulinus laid the foundation of the collegiate Church at Southwell, one of the first durable churches erected in the whole county north of the Trent.  Did Paulinus come to Woodborough? We don't know, but almost certainly the Good News was brought here by some missionary from the Church he founded at Southwell.



The more you look back at the stained glass windows in other Churches the more you realise how lucky we are in Woodborough to have the Kempe windows and the Burne-Jones window.

Our windows are like a huge picture-book of the life of Our Lord and of the Saints. When you begin to make a list, like the one below, it is quite astounding to find how much Church History has been pictured in only nine Church Windows.

St Swithun’s Church Windows

Nave window 1 north wall -

Left St Aidan Right St Columba

Nave Window 2 north wall -

Left St Chad Right St Hugh

Nave window 4 south wall -

Left St Hilda Right St Etheldreda

Chancel window 5 north wall -

Left King David, centre St Dorothea

Right St John the Evangelist

Nave window 3 south wall -

Left St Cecilia Right St Agnes

Chancel window 6 north wall

Left St Anne, centre Madonna & child,

Right St John the Baptist 

Life of our Lord


Our Lord's Mother

St. Agnes

Shepherds & Angel adoring

St. Anne

Visit of the Kings

St. Aidan

Garden of Gethsemane

St. Catherine

St. Cecilia

The Crucifixion

St. Chad

Our Lord carrying the Cross

St. Columba

Doubting Thomas

St. Dorothea

Old Testament Characters

St. Hilda


St. Hugh


St. John the Evangelist


St. John the Baptist


St. Margaret


St. Mark


St. Matthew


St. Paulinus


St. Swithun



Two little angels with hearts, on the finials of the east window.

Chancel window 7 south wall -

Left Ezekiel, centre Daniel & right Isaiah

Chancel window 8 south wall -

Gabriel, Michael & Raphael.

The War Memorial Window

Window 9: The Great East Window 

Window 1 : St. Aidan (died 651 AD)


When Oswald, King of Northumbria, wanted his people to hear about Jesus he sent a message to the little island of Iona where Columba and his men lived. (Perhaps you remember that they came from Ireland across the wild seas in their little boats).

St. Columba sent Corman, but he was a hard man “very holy but very severe” and the people of Northumbria wouldn't listen to him, so he had to go back to Iona. When he reported “no progress could be made among men so unwilling to be taught, so stubborn and so barbarous” a quiet voice said “Perhaps these poor souls have only children's minds, so have you not treated them too sternly?”

Aidan, the speaker, was so gentle and silent that they were surprised to hear his voice, but they thought perhaps he was right and, greatly to his surprise, they decided that Aidan himself should go. He was consecrated Bishop and set off to spread the good tidings.

Oswald the King and Aidan the Bishop worked happily together, and the King gave Aidan the island of Lindisfarne where he and his followers doctored the sick, taught the children, preached the Gospel and in the short intervals between their missionary journeys to the mainland, gardened and farmed, built and carpentered.

It was most of all by his simple life and loving deeds that Aidan spread the Gospel. Wherever he went the people came crowding to hear him. Soon Churches were built and people were baptised and confirmed. Money and gifts were heaped on him but he gave everything away or used his wealth to ransom slaves. Lindisfarne was called Holy Island because he lived there, and it is still a place of pilgrimage.

Look at his fine, gentle face in the window, which he shares with St. Columba.

        To the glory of God and in
        memory of Francis, Mary and
        John Hartshorne this window
        is dedicated A.D.1908.

Window 1 : St. Columba (died 597 AD)

Born in Ireland to a royal family and baptised as Colum Cille, which translates as 'the dove of the church', St Columba as he is better known, was a prince who might have become a high king of Ireland had he not chosen to follow the priesthood. In 546 he founded the monastery of Derry. He was described in early days as a warrior priest but evidently was on the wrong political side after the battle of Cooldrevny because in 563 he was excommunicated and exiled from Ireland.

As a penance he sailed with 12 disciples, finding a haven on Iona, a tiny island off Mull, where he founded a monastery which became the mother church of Celtic Christianity. This developed as a famous school for missionaries and he spent the last 34 years of his life here in Scotland, becoming renowned for his wisdom and holiness. The remote island of Iona became a place of immense renown in the early history of Christianity in Britain.


Window 2 : St. Chad (672 AD)

If we go round the Nave in clockwise direction the next window shows a picture of St. Chad. (Did you know that it's supposed to be only witches and bad fairies that go round the outside of a Church widdershins: i.e. anticlockwise?).

When St. Chad was first made a Bishop in Yorkshire “he began to travel about, not on horseback, but after the manner of the apostles, on foot, to preach the Gospel in towns, the open country, cottages, villages and castles”, but when later on he was made Bishop of Litchfield (though he might well have been called Bishop of the Midlands, for his diocese covered 17 counties including Notts) he was persuaded to ride a horse so that he could travel further and more quickly.

If we could look back 1300 years should we see St. Chad jogging along on his horse down Bank Hill as he went to tell the little hamlet of Woodborough about Jesus Christ? Well, we don't know if St. Chad ever came to Woodborough but it is quite likely that he did, for it is almost certain that it was through him or his priests that the good news came to our village and some rough church was built.

There is no record of that first church, and there have probably been 2 or 3 buildings before the present St. Swithun’s took shape, but we are glad that the man who probably brought Christianity to Woodborough is remembered in our Church.

St. Chad's picture in the window shows him holding a model of Litchfield Cathedral (his name there is spelt CEADDA).

        To the glory of God and in
        memory of Edward Brett.
        Churchwarden 1865–1907,      

        this window is dedicated.

And this is where the lamb comes into the story. The Christians of Rome buried her outside the gates of Rome, not with sorrow and lamenting, but with joy and triumph. Her parents prayed for a long time by her grave, and there they saw a vision of St. Agnes clothed in cloth of gold with precious stones and with a white lamb at her side.

Even now people go to pray at the place where she was buried, and every year it is the custom to bless there two lambs from whose wool is woven the palliums (cloaks) worn by the Pope and by Roman Archbishops.


Window 3 : St. Agnes (martyred 304 AD)

A lamb was connected with St. Agnes both before and after her death, that is why one is shown with her in the window (near the Jacobean table) which she shares with St. Cecilia.

There are very few facts known about St. Agnes’s life, though many legends have grown up round her. We know that she lived in Rome and that she was only 13 years when she was killed because she refused to give up being a Christian.
Legend says that many who tried to hurt her “grew pure and chaste in heart by sweet purity of her presence, and went away penitent”, and when the people tried to burn her to death “the flames divided and encircled her like a rainbow, and moreover they blazed forth all around and consumed those who had kindled them”.

Just before she was beheaded she knelt down and prayed; “Blessed be Thy holy Name, O Lord. I see what I have longed for. I hold fast what I have loved. My heart and tongue and soul praise Thee”.


Window 4 : St. Etheldreda (died 679)

Probably this lady is best known as the founder and Abbess of the church at Ely. She was the daughter of Anna, king of East Anglia and retired to Ely in 655 AD on the death of her first husband, although she remained a virgin. In 660 AD for political reasons she was married to fifteen year old Egfrith, the young King of Northumbria, who agreed that she could remain a virgin which later enabled her to found a double monastery at Ely in 673. Here she lived a life of austerity, penance and prayer and after death her shrine became a place of pilgrimage, making her one of the most popular of Anglo-Saxon women priests. 

Ely was refounded by Ethelwold in 970 as a monastery for men only and was so lavishly endowed by him and King Edgar that it became one of the richest abbeys in England. It retained Etheldreda’s shrine which was later joined by relics of other saints. Etheldreda is usually depicted in art as an abbess, crowned, with a pastoral staff and two does as these were supposed to have provided the Ely community with milk during a famine.


The Chancel Windows 5 & 6 (north wall)

Window 5 : St. Dorothea (about 400 AD)

The men and women pictured in our Church windows lived a long time ago, and during the years after their deaths stories were told about them which were not always strictly true. We know that these people really did live, sometimes we even know the dates of their births and deaths; we know that they were Christians and that they suffered for it; but we need not believe all the beautiful stores told about them, though possibly some of them may be truer than we think.

Dorothea, centre, was one of a group of Christian girls living in Caesarea on the coast of Palestine at the time that Fabricius the Roman Governor was arresting Christians and giving them the choice between death and sacrificing to the gods of Rome. Two of the girls, Agnes and Lucy, were soon sent for, and when the dreaded moment came Christ Himself seemed to stand by them, and they boldly chose death.

When Dorothea’s turn came she too chose death, but the Roman Governor had fallen in love with her beauty and pleaded with her to be his wife and have many servants and everything she could desire. She answered “I am the bride of Christ and am content with rose from the heavenly garden which fade not away”, so she was taken out to be beheaded.

As she was led through the crowded streets a young man called Theophilus cried out “Goest thou to join thy Bridegroom, fair maiden? Do not forget me, I pray thee, but send me some of the fruit and flowers from the heavenly garden of which thou spakest”.

“Thy prayer is answered O Theophilus” replied Dorothea, and the young man and his friends laughed.

She went quickly up the steps of the little platform and knelt to pray. Then as she looked up at the headsman to show that she was ready she saw a boy holding out to her a basket full of apples and roses, sweeter and more beautiful that any she had ever seen.

“Take them to Theophilus” she said “and tell him that Dorothea has sent them and that they come from the heavenly garden whither she is going and where he will one day find her”.

Theophilus and his friends were feasting and making merry when the boy appeared. He delivered his message, and the young men were quiet. “For a time Theophilus was seen no more in Caesarea, but one day he came back and confessed himself a Christian, and was sent by the Governor to pluck the roses from the heavenly garden”.

(In the middle section of the “Burne-Jones” window, you can see Dorothea with the basket of apples and roses. At the bottom of the window is the baby Jesus in the arms of his Mother, and the words Salvator Mundi meaning Saviour of the world).

Window 5 : St. John the Evangelist (died 27th December)

The third section, right, of the “Burne-Jones” window in memory of Roby Thorpe shows St. John the Apostle, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, the writer of the fourth Gospel. He lived to be a very old man, but usually artists show him (as in our Church window) as a young beardless man. Here he is shown holding a cup with a curious dragon like creature coming out of it, because of the story that a priest of Diana challenged him to drink a cup of poison which John rendered harmless by blessing it with the sign of the cross.

But since we connect each of the Evangelists with one of the four creatures in Revelations (“and the first creature was like a lion, and the second creature was like a calf, and the third creature had a face as of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle”) St. John is often shown with an eagle, and if you look at the East window you find St. John again, with an eagle at the bottom of the window.

We sometimes forget that we cannot see a picture or a statue of our Lord, or anyone else in the Bible, made whilst they were alive. The artists, and we, can only imagine what they were like, and certainly the two artists who designed the windows in our Church had different ideas. Go and look at St. John in the two windows: in one he is young man with straight brown hair; in the other he has quite a different and stronger face and fair curly hair.

An interesting collection to make is of Nativity Scenes of all nations (Jesus in the manger, with Mary and Joseph and perhaps the Shepherds and the Kings). If the artist is African he paints them all with black faces; if he is Chinese the faces will be yellowish with slanting eyes; if he is English he will show them with fair hair and pale complexions (look at our Church windows and see for yourself); and yet Jesus was born in Palestine and so was John, and most Eastern people are dark-haired and dark-skinned.

Colour of hair and skin doesn't really matter, but when we buy a picture with Jesus in it (even if it's only a Christmas card) we ought to try to choose one in which he is shown as strong and fearless as the Bible tells us He was.


Window 6: St Anne, Madonna & child, St John the Baptist

This window, a particularly beautiful one, in the north wall of the sanctuary contains two small sections of the medieval glass (perhaps 600 years old) which used to fill our windows. This glass forms two attractive little pictures right at the top of the window – one of St. Catherine holding the wheel, on which she was martyred, the other of St. Margaret killing with a spear the dragon at her feet.

The main part of the window shows first (on the left) St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, showing the child Mary part of Hannah's song on which she later modelled the Magnificat; then the Madonna and Child; and on the right St. John the Baptist as a child with his mother Elizabeth.

The bottom of the window is filled with a Nativity scene – Mary and Joseph and the Holy Child with the ox and ass, the shepherds adoring, and the angels singing. 

You really need at least 10 minutes to look at and think about this lovely window which has the following dedication:

      We pray you remember Jane Hill, wife of
      Thomas Hill born 4th December 1819
       died 1st October 1882 “Jesu Mercy”. 


The Chancel Windows 7 & 8 (south wall)

Window 7: Ezekiel, Daniel and Isaiah

At the bottom of the window on the right of the Altar are three delightful little pictures – Mary with the Child Jesus in the centre, and the Kings with their gifts and their servants and their camel and horse in the outer sections. One of the Kings is dark-skinned and wears a sort of turban, but the other two have taken off their crowns and put them on the ground while they offer their presents to the little King of Kings. As for the camel, it looks just as if it is saying to the man holding it, “let me go. I must have a look too”.

Above these pictures are the figures of three men holding scrolls. You can discover who they are by finding out who in the Bible said the words on the scrolls. (This is easy with a Concordance). And the artist helps us by putting the initial of the man's name above him.

The man on the right has the letter E above him, and the words on his scroll “I will set up one shepherd over them” are from the book of Ezekiel, chapter xxxiv, verse 23. The D over the central man shows us that we are right when we find that the words on his scroll – “his domain is an everlasting dominion” – are from David iv, 34. But the words held by the man on the left “behold a King shall reign in righteousness” are from Isaiah xxxii, 1, yet the letter above him is E. It looks as if we must be wrong until we remember that Isaiah is sometimes called Esaias in the Bible.

So the three men are the prophets Ezekiel, Daniel and Isaiah foretelling the birth of Christ the King.

At the very bottom of the window are the words:

We pray you remember Thomas Hill,
      merchant of Nottingham, born 20th June
      1822, died 7th October 1909
      “On whose soul may Jesus have mercy”.

Above the three Prophets are two small pictures in the old glass; one is quite clearly Our Lord in Gethsemane and the other is possibly Christ before Pilate, but is very difficult to make out.

Window 8: The War Memorial Window - Gabriel, Michael and Raphael
       Remember ye with thanksgiving and
       all honour the men of Woodborough
       who fell in the Great War 1914-18
       to those memory this window is dedicated.

This window shows three angels - Michael in the centre section with Gabriel on the left and Raphael on the right. Below are 3 small circular pictures, and above are two pictures in the old glass – the Risen Lord appearing to Mary in the garden, and Our Lord showing the wounds in His side to Thomas.

Gabriel is only mentioned four times in the Bible. Twice in the book of Daniel he says, “O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skills and understanding”; and twice in the New Testament in stories which we all know. It was Gabriel who told Zacharias that his wife Elizabeth would be the mother of John the Baptist (you will remember that Zacharias was dumb until the baby was born, and then wrote “His name is John” when the others wanted to give him a family name). And then to Gabriel was given perhaps the most important message to all to deliver, for it was he who was sent to tell the Virgin Mary that she should “bring forth a Son and call His name Jesus”.

Window 8 : Archangel Gabriel
Perhaps Gabriel was “the angel of the Lord” who appeared to the shepherds; perhaps he was one of the angels who came to Our Lord in the garden of Gethsemane. It certainly seems likely that the angel who appeared to Mary before the birth of Jesus might also be sent to help Him before His crucifixion – probably with that idea in mind the artist of the War Memorial windows has put a small circular picture of Gethsemane beneath the figure of Gabriel.

Window 8 : Archangel Michael
The central figure is the Archangel Michael thrusting his spear into the blue and green dragon at his feet. This is not the dragon shown in pictures of St. Margaret nor the dragon killed by St. George, but “that old serpent called the Devil and Satan which deceiveth the whole world”. You can read these words in the 12th chapter of Revelations where the story is told of how “there was war in Heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought his angels,” and how the dragon (Satan) was cast out of Heaven.

This is really all we know of Michael the Archangel, but there are many churches called after him, and in the 7th century he was supposed to have appeared at Mont Saint Michel, a lovely rocky island off the coast of Normandy. (Perhaps you may have been to the English counterpart, St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall). We remember St. Michael and all Angels at the Michaelmas, 20th September.

Have you ever noticed the beech leaves surrounding the little round pictures of Gethsemane, the Crucifixion and The Road to Calvary, at the bottom of the window? They are clearly coloured in the green and gold and bronze shades of autumn.

Window 8 : Archangel Raphael
Of all the stories connected with our Church windows perhaps the most attractive is that of the Archangel Raphael, but it is not well-known for it comes in the apocrypha, a collection of books written between the times of the Old and New Testaments. The following story is from the book of Tobit – read the whole lot of one day.

Tobit was one of the Jews in captivity in Nineveh. When the King Sennacherib killed Jews (“for in his wrath he killed many”) Tobit would quietly bury them. For this the King took away all his goods leaving him only his wife Anna and his son Tobias, but still he went on burying his dead country-men.

Now, according to Jewish law, to touch a dead body makes a man unclean, so Tobit would sleep out of doors when he returned from a burial. And one night as he lay by the wall of his courtyard a sparrow “muted warm dung” into his eyes and a whiteness came over them, and he was blind.

In his poverty and blindness he suddenly thought of some money he had lent to a man in Media and decided to send his young son Tobias to collect it. He told Tobias to try to find someone to go with him on the journey, so “he went to seek a man and found Raphael that was an angel”. Raphael agreed to go with him, “so they forth both and the young man's dog went with them”.

On the way they came to the River Tigris and as Tobias went down to wash himself a fish leapt out of the river. And Raphael the “affable Archangel”, as Milton called him, took the fish and they ate it after they had taken out the heart, the liver and the gall. And Raphael said, “if a devil or an evil spirit troubles anyone we must make a smoke of the heart and liver and the party shall be no more vexed. As for the gall, it is good to heal a man that hath whiteness in his eyes”.

You must read for yourself what Tobias did with the heart and the liver; no doubt you can guess what he did with the gall. Yes, he went home with the wife he had married in Media and Raphael (and the little dog followed behind) and healed his father's blindness.

And Tobit his father said, “see that the man which went with thee has his wages and more than his wages”. Then Raphael told them who he was, saying “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One”.

How differently artists portray the story of Tobias and the Angel! You will find pictures of them in galleries here and abroad, but in our Church window Tobit is not shown although it is interesting that the Archangel Raphael carries a fish.


Back to top Next page



Chancel windows

5: chancel - north wall
6: chancel - north wall

7: chancel - south wall
8: chancel - south wall

9: east window


The above two photographs of new statues resplendent in the same position as those of the originals.

Left St. Paulinus and St. Swithun on the right.