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‘Helping us know God better’: Archbishop Justin on Lambeth Palace's stained glass

Wednesday 2nd April 2014

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has welcomed a new guide to the remarkable stained glass windows in Lambeth Palace Chapel, which he said ‘are designed to help us know God better’.

'The Story of Salvation', written by Lambeth Palace tour guides James Thomson and Lyndall Hacker, is the first guide of these windows to have been produced since Archbishop Fisher initially expressed a desire for such a resource.

Designed by Carl Edwards and Hugh Powell, and installed in 1955, they replace those destroyed by a direct hit on Lambeth Palace during the Blitz. They feature a sequence of biblical themes based on the Biblia Pauperum (the Poor Man’s Bible) and preserve the known themes of earlier windows which, since 1486, have told the story of the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ.

In a foreword, Archbishop Justin said: ‘I am delighted that this book helps us to get to know the windows better. Even though I see the windows very regularly, this book opens my eyes to appreciate the beauty of their form and function afresh – and thus to look on God afresh.

‘We live in a very visual age once again, just as in medieval times – except that we have lost the art of reading stained glass which might once have been as accessible as a modern cartoon is today.

‘This book teaches us to read again: some vivid and ever-lively stories. It also teaches us a way of reading the Bible: to appreciate the inheritance of the Old Testament and the way in which it shapes our understanding of Jesus, and yet to focus on the events of Jesus in his life and death and resurrection.’

Lyndall Hacker and James Thomson, tour guides at Lambeth Palace, said: "The stained glass windows in the Archbishop’s Chapel at Lambeth, were designed by Carl Edwards and Hugh Powel in 1955, in consultation with Archbishop Fisher. They consist of a beautiful set of 23 lights (in seven windows) telling The Story of Salvation. These windows are thought to be unique."

"It has been a great privilege to research the meanings these windows convey and their scriptural basis for a guidebook, which Archbishop Fisher had hoped for and which has not been written before. We are indebted to Brian Ellis for his outstanding photographs which have given us valuable insight. It is our hope that the work we have undertaken will enable others to appreciate them and their significance, as in the Chapel one is surrounded by The Word of God."

Download 'The Story of Salvation: The Windows of Lambeth Palace Chapel' [PDF]

Order a print-on-demand hardback version of the book


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