Left: Whole window. Right: Detail of knitting.

The Berthon memorial window, in the north transept of Romsey Abbey, by James Powell & Sons. Dedicated in 1902, the window was paid for by public subscription at a cost of around £180.00. The main image shows the Holy Family, with St Mary teaching the child Jesus to read while Joseph works with his plane nearby. The Daily Telegraph quoted the story of a visitor looking at the window and asking "Why is Joseph doing the ironing?" Note the items in the background — Mary has a ball of wool and knitting needles — unlikely for Palestine 2000 years ago.

Left: Joseph's carpentry tools. Right: The Rev. Berthon, with representations of his interests.

Again, it is the background detail which is fascinating: many of Joseph’s tools also look very modern. Below is a very good portrait of Berthon surrounded by images of some of his interests: the collapsible boat thathe invented, and a telescope, indicating his interest in astronomy.

During the discussions about how to commemorate Berthon, the local paper made the following comment:

Mr E Berthon [son] said the family had talked about the memorial among themselves, and they did not favour a window so much as a pair of standard lights for the altar. The vicar [Cooke-Yarborough] said he was very much surprised to hear this, for he had a letter from Mr Berthon to say he did not wish “to put his own views or feelings forward," and he thought if he came to the meeting he might influence people. The question of a window or other memorial would be regulated by the money they could get together, and he was practically sure that none of the Berthon family would wish their private views to be put forward. Major Mortimer said he had seen Mr Berthon only that day, and he did not wish to interfere at all, but if there was more money than enough for a window then they might have some standard lights.

It is fortunate that the final decision was for a window!

Photographs and text by parish historian Liz Hallett; perspective correction, captions and formatting 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 the Victorian Web or cite it in a print one.

Related Material


Eberhard, Robert. "Stained Glass Windows at Romsey Abbey, Hampshire." Church Stained Glass Windows. Web. 29 May 2019.

Hallett, Elizabeth. Romsey Abbey, the First 1100 Years (a chronological history), 2015 (available from Romsey Abbey, price £15, or via The Parish Office, parishoffice@romseyabbey.org.uk).

Created 29 May 2019