The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son. This three-light window is the second one of the south aisle wall, after the south chapel, of the church of St Nicholas, Thames Ditton, Surrey. It dates from 1873 (see Eberhard). It shows the dutiful brother looking on askance as his father welcomes home the unworthy son who had left him and wasted his inheritance on riotous living, and has now come back to him in want.

Prodigal Son window

The parable, told in Luke 15, 11-23, goes nicely with the parable from Luke illustrated in the previous window, about the Good Samaritan. In both cases one of a very few principal characters finds himself in wretched circumstances: in this case, the younger son is returning abjectly, in coarse rags. In both cases, these characters are helped by those who might not be expected to help them: in this case, not by a mere passer-by, but by the wronged father. The stay-at-home brother here is not savagely cruel like the men who set upon the Samaritan, but he is hard-hearted enough not to understand his father's joy. This parable, however, is less about exhortation to kindness than about the reassurance of divine forgiveness. Westlake brings out the father's tenderness and the other brother's resentment very well, against a background of well-managed land, with vine-covered trellis, different species of trees, and a lake.

Other windows in St Nicholas

Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.


Eberhard, Robert. "Stained Glass Windows at St Nicholas, Thames Ditton, Surrey." Church Stained Glass Windows. Web. 20 December 2014.

Last modified 20 December 2014