Except for a few small fragments assembled in a window in the old vestry, there is no surviving medieval glass. The stained glass in the aisle windows is all Victorian. Both the chancel east window and the Lady Chapel east window are by Comper, the chancel window part of the war memorial scheme, the Lady Chapel a memorial to Beatrice Ringrose, wife of Sir Denis Fortescue Boles of Watts House (now Cedar Falls health Farm). The parish was fortunate in the years leading up to World War I and between the wars in having two land-owning families, the Lethbridges of Sandhill Park and the Boles of Watts house, who both notably embellished the church.
It is strictly incorrect to have a Lady Chapel in a church dedicated to Our Lady. The second altar here, with its little chapel behind the screen, is sometimes known as the Jesus Chapel. However, the East window above the chapel altar depicts The Annunciation, so perhaps it should be known as the Chapel of the Annunciation.
In 2016, A Brief Guide to the Stained Glass Windows was researched, written and produced by Penny Gale, a member of St Mary’s congregation. In the Introduction to her booklet, Penny explains that the main ‘lights’ are described, with their associated biblical reference where possible. These have been taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV). The stained glass windows are Victorian and Perpendicular in style. Most are memorial donations and any dedications can be seen at the foot of the lights. The windows include the symbols of the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; The Annunciation (as mentioned above in what is described as ‘Lady Chapel’), the window depicting The Angel Gabriel pointing to Mary, Madonna Lilies and Mary, the Virgin holding a Bible. The Raising of Lazarus is depicted in the window on the South wall.
In the South aisle on the South wall, we are treated to depictions of St Peter, Jesus and St Paul; on the South wall in the Font area we have The Law and the Prophets: Elijah, Moses and John the Baptist. Also on the South wall in the Font area, but West facing are depicted the story of the Expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden, Jesus in Glory and Christ Crucified.
In the Tower area, West facing is a window depicting the Baptism of Jesus.
In the North aisle, West facing are two windows showing two different scenes from The Parable of the Talents, and a third depicting Jesus at the house of Martha and Mary at Bethany.
Remaining in the North aisle, but North facing are various scenes again from Jesus’ visits to the house of his friends at Bethany. In the window above the North door, there are depictions of Peter walking on the water; Jesus preaching from the boat; and Jesus asleep in the boat before stilling the storm. On the East side of the North Door in the North aisle, we can see Sarah and Isaac from the story in the Old Testament; Christ and the children from the Gospels; and Eunice and Timothy from one of S. Paul’s epistles. Also in the North aisle North facing, the windows show S. Christopher; S. John the Evangelist; and King Alfred the Great. There is yet another window, but this is clear lattice.
In the North aisle, at the East end over the door can be found the Four Evangelists, mentioned earlier above.
The East window above the High Altar in the Sanctuary is a First World War memorial, designed by Sir Ninian Comper in 1924. Also in this window are inserts at the foot of each light: Bishop Martin of Tours; The Virgin Mary; and S. George.
In the Sanctuary, South facing we find depictions of The Resurrection, and The Ascension.
In the Flower Vestry, there is a small late 15th or early 16th century window consisting of fragments of Medieval glass. On the left a Baptism is depicted; the right hand side shows the Virgin Mary holding Jesus. Above them is an uncrowned head and what appears to be the white rose of York or – possibly – a Tudor rose.
It is hoped that this very brief description, taken from Penny’s book and with her permission, will whet your appetite to come to see this amazing treasure trove of wonderful stained glass windows for yourself – and that you will be inspired to pay for a copy of Penny’s book so that you can take it away with you to enjoy at your leisure and as a reminder of your visit.