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George Herbert

In St George's chapel in Westminster Abbey is a two light stained glass window to the memory of poets George Herbert and William Cowper. The figure of Herbert appears with a quote from his work

Look not on pleasures as they come but go defer not the least virtue, play the man. If thou do ill the joy fades not the pain, if well the pain doth fade the joy remains.

At the top of the window an angel holds coats of arms. That to Herbert shows "per pale azure and gules, three lions rampant argent". The window was the gift of George Childs, a friend of Dean Stanley. On the wall below is a Latin inscription which can be translated:

Given by George William Childs, American citizen, 1876

The glass was designed by J.R. Clayton and Alfred Bell.

Herbert was born on 3rd April 1593 in Montgomery in Wales, a child of Richard and his wife Magdalene (Newport). His grandfather was Sir Edward Herbert, constable of Montgomery Castle. Of his brothers Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury became a poet, Sir Henry Herbert was master of the revels, and Thomas Herbert was a naval officer. The family moved to Oxford and then to London where George attended Westminster School. He went on to Cambridge university where he started writing poetry and later he composed devotional poems. In 1624 he was a Member of Parliament but that was short lived. As public orator he came into contact with the King and Court. He was ordained a deacon and became rector of Llandinam in his native county, and was later a canon of Lincoln Cathedral. On 5th March 1629 he married Jane Danvers and the following year was rector of Bemerton in Wiltshire. He died on 1st March 1633 and was buried at St Andrew's church, Bemerton. His work The Temple was published after his death. His hymns 'Let all the world in every corner sing' and 'Teach me My God and King' are still popular.

Further reading

"A life of George Herbert" by A.M. Charles, 1977

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Born

3rd April 1593

Died

1st March 1633

Occupation

Poet

Location

St George's Chapel

Memorial Type

Window

Material Type

Glass

George Herbert
George Herbert window

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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It’s a privilege to live and work here – the Abbey really is the heart of the country and its history.

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Martin - The Dean’s Verger

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