ST CUTHBERTS RYE PARK
THE NEW MAIN WINDQW (1996)
Margaret Traheme ARCA begain stained-
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-
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 -
CROSS of Jesus central over all.
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
It was felt that such a big and dominating window (18 feet tail)
needed to be open to plenty of interpretations rather than be
Therefore you may well see other things in the design -
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 -
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.
A TEAM EFFORT
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.
ANCIENT and MODERN
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!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
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-
Romans 8: 1, 2. 5. 9-
1 Corinthians 2: 2-
Ephesians 1: 17-
Ephesians 3: 8-
Colossians 1: 15-
1 Timothy 3: 15, 16 p1192
1 John 4: 13-
WHY ST. CUTHBERT?
Rye Park is rather a long way from Northumbria -
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-
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-
national return to the Christian faith, but in many ways a return to the
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 -
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