Left: The Hacket Window, by Charles Eamer Kempe. 1901. South Quire Aisle, Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire. Right: Bishop Hacket looks at the plans of the Cathedral, in the lower part of the central light.
There are many wonderful windows in Lichfield Cathedral, including the famous Herkenrode painted glass in the Lady Chapel, which has recently been restored, and a number of other windows by Kempe. These include all those in the Chapel of the Head of St Chad — Kempe also designed the reredos in the chapel. But this is one of his most striking contributions to the cathedral, because it depicts in graphic detail and in period costume Bishop Hacket and and those working on its restoration after the Civil War. It had been (as explained in the text at the foot of the left-hand panel) "overthrown by violent and wicked hands," and was now almost in ruins.
Closer views of the two flanking panels.
John Hacket (1590-1670) was appointed to the see by Charles II in 1661. Previously the see had been that of "Coventry and Lichfield," but the king changed it to "Lichfield and Coventry," perhaps because Lichfield had stayed loyal to the crown under Cromwell, while Coventry had not — perhaps too because the big task required of the new bishop was to restore the fabric here and reorganise the diocese. Bishop Hacket succeeded in the former partly by paying for it out of his own pocket, and partly by fund-raising. Despite his age, he was clearly as personally involved with the rebuilding programme as he appears to be here, and his inspiration lasted after his death so that (as the inscription at the foot of the right-hand explains) later "generations have been moved to carry on his work."
Kempe's detailed attention to the faces is visible in all the close-ups, for example the one of Bishop Hacket with the cathedral's plans. The whole window is equally rich in detail, when seen under the right conditions. His careful blending of colours, as in the varied tones of the gnarled trunk of the tree in the background, and the sense of movement and energy in the different activities of the workmen, are also remarkable. In the tracery is a tiny wheatsheaf, which Kempe adopted from his family coat-of-arms as his signature emblem.
Photographs by Colin Price, except for the one at the top right, seen on a different day and in different light. This and the text are by Jacqueline Banerjee, with useful information from Pat Scaife (see "Further Reading"). These photographs are reproduced here by kind permission of the Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral. Click on the images for larger pictures.
Material related to Lichfield Cathedral and its stained glass
- History and photographs of the Cathedral
- Spode Memorial Window by John Hardman & Co.
- Faith, Hope and Charity by William Wailes
Clifton, A. B. The Cathedral Church of Lichfield: A Description of Its Fabric and a Brief History of the Episcopal See. London: George Bell, 1900. Project Gutenberg. 17 May 2013.
Scaife, Pat. The Stained Glass of Lichfield Cathedral. Much Wenlock, Shrops.: R. J. L. Smith, 2009.
Updated, with new photographs, 27 February 2019