Westminster Abbey has announced plans to unveil two new stained glass windows in the magnificent Lady Chapel. The panels, each comprising more than 50 individual, handmade pieces of glass, will be installed in time for the service marking the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of HM The Queen in the Abbey on 4th June 2013. The windows are the first commissioned by the Abbey for more than a decade, and have been designed by British artist, Hughie O'Donoghue.
Commissioned by Henry VII and built between 1503 and 1519, the Lady Chapel is one of the great examples of late Gothic architecture in England. The new panels will be positioned on either side of the Chapel's East Window, which was designed by artist Alan Younger and installed in October 2000, the last stained glass commission installed in the Abbey.
The panels incorporate emblems related to the Blessed Virgin Mary including several varieties of lily, the symbol of the Annunciation and purity; stars, a symbol of Our Lady’s Conception; and the fleur de lys, also associated with royalty.
The windows have been created by stained glass artist Helen Whittaker at Barley Studio in York, specialists in creating and conserving stained glass for historic buildings. Helen Whittaker interpreted the full scale cartoons provided by Hughie O'Donoghue, using traditional glass painting and staining techniques in a contemporary style.
Hughie O'Donoghue said: 'My strong feeling was that my design should be in line with the Gothic tradition of carrying the eyes upward. The ceiling is golden, literally, with the gilded Tudor emblems, which are close in tone and colour to the warm stone of the vaults. My decision was to make the windows predominantly blue, a rich range of blues from blue green to violet, but essentially complementing the golden ceiling.
'My design considers the two windows as one piece of work whose colour scheme relates to each other, whilst framing the central Alan Younger window, like wings of an altarpiece.’
The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, said: ‘The Lady Chapel is one of the most stunning ecclesiastical spaces in the world.
Sadly, the glass was blown out in the Second World War, and it is exciting to receive this further re-glazing of the Chapel in sympathy with the existing glass and as a tribute to its status as a Chapel in honour of Our Lady.’
The cost of the windows has been kindly met by Lord and Lady Harris of Peckham.