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Margaret Traheme ARCA begain stained-glass work in 1956 and she

has designed many windows including ones at Margcheste Coventry

and Liverpool RC Cathedrals. She writes...

'I found St. Cuthbert a sympathetic characterand one that people

today will relate to. I hope that my feeling will come through the


Cuthbert lived from 634.687 AD, and was one of the early Christian

missionaries to Northumbria. The window depicts in symbols

CUTHBERT'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE, from the time he first

experienced a heavenly vision while watching his flock of sheep in the

hills, and decided to dedicate his life to God's service!

In the lower part of the winuow, the SHEPHERD'S CROOK depicts

this,and also his later life as a church pastor and bishop. The dark

blue glass in the foreground is a reminder that Lindisfame is cut off

from the mainland much of the time, and among the abundant marine

life there can be seen representations of the hand-like sea anemones

unique to the area called 'St. Cuthbert's beads'.

Moving up the window, the solid, bold shapes symbolise the steadfast

quality of his life, as he taught and comforted others while still

maintaining a disciplined life himself and a close personal walk with

God. The DOVE representsCuthberrs spirit reaching upwards to


The colours of the upper part of the window symbolise Cuthbert's love

for God - the passionate red colour, and the purity of blue, with the

CROSS of Jesus central over all.


It was felt that such a big and dominating window (18 feet tail)

needed to be open to plenty of interpretations rather than be

simply 'pictorial'.

Therefore you may well see other things in the design - for

example, the unity of God's creation in the sea, on iand and rn

the air (which featured largely in Cuthberfs thinking and in the

outlook of the Celtic church, and is of course a modern concern


Also the universal application of the main symbols - the

SHEPHERD'S CROOK representing the church and the

leadership of 'Gods flock' on earth, the empty CROSS

representing Jesus crucified, risen and reigming in glory, and the

DOVE representing the Holy Spirit connecting the life of heaven

to earth, and helping God's people respond in prayer.

The colours were chosen also to enrich the rather monochrome

interior of the church, giving plenty of light, while dealing with

the old glare problem caused by the fad that the church faces

(unusually) south. The entire length of the nave on a sunny

December day is bathed in colour.


Staned glass is an unusual medium, in some ways more like

music than painting, in that it requires a team to produce it,

rather than a solitary artist. Margaret Traherne is like the

composer, while Ashley, Angelo and the team at 'Shades of

Light' are like conductor and orchestra, turning the design on

paper into the real thing, with her help.


Stained glass is a very ancient craft, but here it is married to

modern technology. The frame uses aluminium with a special

protective finish, which is completely corrosion free, and the

window is protected with polycarbonate (the same material riot

shields are made from) whieh also forms effective double

glazing and helps with our heating bills!


If you are sitting and looking at the window, the following

Scripture passages may be heipfui for meditation. (Page

numbers refer to the Church bibles):

Psalm 24: 1, 2    p555

John 16: 13-15    p1084

Romans 8: 1, 2. 5. 9-11. 14-27  p1135

1 Corinthians 2: 2-16   p1145

Ephesians 1: 17-23   p1173

Ephesians 3: 8-21   p1174

Colossians 1: 15-20   p1182

1 Timothy 3: 15, 16   p1192

1 John 4: 13-16    p1228

Jude 17-25    p1232


Rye Park is rather a long way from Northumbria - why is our

church dedicated to St. Cuthbert?

Most 'St. Cuthbert’s are to be found in the North of England not

surprisingly! However, when this church was named, the vicar at the

time was very impressed by St. Cuthbert’s life and all he stood for,

and so we became 'St Cuthbert's'!

So? Why is his life an appropriate subject for a window in an

urban Hertfordshire church 1300 years after his death?

We live in a fast-changing culture, where many are turning their back

on science and technology as the 'saviours of mankind', and seeking

again a spiritual meaning in life. This is behind the growth of 'New

Age' religions, with their reverence for the earth and creation. Many

commentators believe we are at a turning point in our history,

witnessing the death of the 'Enlightenment culture which has reigned

since the 1700s, with its emphasis on reason and logic, and the birth

of a new spiritually-based age. However, this is not a whole-hearted

national return to the Christian faith, but in many ways a return to the

pre-Christian pagan age of British history, into which St. Cuthbert's

predecessors were born.

The early Christian missionaries, and Cuthbert himself, taught the

people that there was a Creator God and loving Heavenly Father

revealed in the Bible, who had sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem

the fallen and spoilt (though still very beautiful) creation. This was a

revolutionary idea to those who had believed the earth was divine.

that there were spirits in the trees and rocks and so on.

ln our time, we are suddenly realising the need to treat the Earth with

respect, as a friend, and not just as something to be used and

abused. This is very much ln tune with Cuthbert and the Celtic

Christians. However, many are confused, having forgotten the

Creator that Cuthbert preached, and are embracing the old pagan

ideas of the planet itself being a goddess - hence beliefs in the magic

powers of crystals, plant extracts and so on. ln many ways, for all our

veneer of sophistication, our society is very similar to the one in which

Cuthbert lived and shared his faith, and we have much to learn from