The East Window

1ChurchZZThe Mason family, in memory of Hugh Mason, donated the East Chancel window. The window is made up of 14 lights. Each light contains one figure which depicts the virtues and graces of the Christian Character:

The Upper Tier:


The Lower Tier

Saints MARTIN, MARGARET, THERESA, MICHAEL, LUCIA, DOROTHEA, GEORGE Above the two tiers of figures there is a complex tracery of sky, moon, sun and angels playing musical instruments.

The Upper Tier:

With Prudence, Fortitude and Temperance, one of the four ‘cardinal virtues’. In Plato’s ideal city it is justice that regulates the actions of the citizens, both socially and individually, and which underlies the harmonious working of the other three virtues. Renaissance humanists therefore made Justice the leader of the four, and she is thus often represented. The SWORD is the emblem of her power. Represented in the left hand by a head and a skull is the Last Judgement where Justice crowns a righteous person but beheads a sinner.
To the Middle Ages temperance often signified, as it may today, abstinence from liquor, and hence was represented by a woman pouring liquid from one vessel to another – diluting wine with water, or, water to put out the fires of lust. This latter would appear to have been depicted in the East Window.
With Faith and Charity, one of the three ‘theological virtues’. In Gothic church sculpture she gazes up to heaven and reaches out for a crown in the hope of future glory. An anchor partly hidden in her robes derives from St. Paul who said of hope “It is like an anchor for our lives…it enters in through the veil”.
The foremost of the three ‘theological virtues’ (which is why it is probably given central position). “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is Charity (1 Cor. 13:13). The N.E.B. uses the word ‘love’ a closer definition. The Church teaches that charity is both love of God and at the same time love of one’s neighbour and that the second was of no real worth without the first. Bonaventura developed the concept of love of God into that of light, or burning fire and in Italian art the figure of Charity came to be represented with a FLAME . In the East Window Charity is shown with flames around her head and she holds a flaming candle in the left hand.
Faith , with Hope and Charity – one of the three ‘theological virtues’. Faith is usually shown holding a CROSS which she may have in her right hand in the East window, but she is sometimes shown with a lighted candle and in the East Window Faith is looking towards Charity and their two hands reach out towards each other. Faith is also shown with her foot resting on a stone block representing an unshakeable foundation. The lower part of the representation of Faith shows a small white area which may be a stone rather than the end of a foot.
Prudence signifies not caution but simply wise conduct.  She is personified as a woman with a SNAKE and a MIRROR. In the East Window the snake is shown between her feet. The snake is derived from Matthew (10:16) “Be ye wise (prudentes) as serpents”. She acquired the mirror in the late Middle Ages; it signifies that the wise man has the ability to see himself as he really is. Prudence is also shown with a BOOK – the scriptures.
One of the rarer virtues in religious and secular allegory, represented as a woman with a LAMB. Her downcast look expresses her modesty. Her bent head also suggests the idea that the humbler one is, the higher the spirit rises.

Albion United Reformed Church

Stamford St E, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 6QQ