The War
Memorial Window, St Chad's

The War Memorial Window at St Chad's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Birmingham

John Hardman & Co

Dedicated on Armistice Day, 1921; restored 2000

South aisle

This window in the south aisle of the cathedral "depicts the Holy Trinity and honours the men of the cathedral parish who were killed in the First World War. Panels at the bottom of the window show a priest offering Mass for the souls of the departed. The server is a likeness of a Cathedral altar boy who was killed at the Front" (Doolan 7) — the latter, a particularly poignant touch.

The colours used for the figures's garments are mainly pale green and (below) a shade of blue, making the window altogether quieter in feel than the brilliant Flanagan window beside it, and the denser Pugin windows elsewhere. There are just a few splashes of crimson, for example on the angels, with the border ornamentation and structural elements picked out in yellow. One commentator suggests that the window shows the influence of another prolific stained glass designer, Charles Eamer Kempe (1837-1907; see Foster 52). Perhaps this is mostly because of its lightness and coolness of colour, and translucence.

Just below the window is a shrine designed by Gerald Hardman. This has a carving of the Deposition, showing Christ's body being received by the Virgin Mary after the crucifixion. Inside is a Roll of Honour for the 200 men commemorated here, along with mementoes of many of them, including rosaries, badges and photographs (see Taylor). Window and shrine together make a touching memorial for the dead, within their own cathedral. {For a closer view of the lower panel, and a bibliography, see below. Click on both images to enlarge them, and mouse over the text for links.]

Photographs by Colin Price and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. The photographs are reproduced here by kind permission of the Dean & Chapter.

Related Material

  • St Chad's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Birmingham (exterior)
  • St Chad's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Birmingham (interior)
  • Two Pugin windows in St Chad's
  • Flanagan window in the South Transept, also by Hardman's, but from 1865