WORK began earlier this month on the installation of two new
stained-glass windows in the Lady chapel at Westminster Abbey.
They will be dedicated on 4 June in the presence of the Queen,
during a service marking the 60th anniversary of her coronation at
The windows, each 25 feet tall and ten feet wide, have been made
by the stained-glass artist Helen Whittaker, to a design by Hughie
O'Donoghue. They are either side of the chapel's east window, which
was designed by the artist Alan Younger, and installed in October
The chapel was built for Henry VII as a royal mausoleum and is
one of the great examples of late Gothic architecture in
The panels are the third set of glass in the windows since they
were completed in 1519. The original medieval glass, by Bernard
Flower, was badly damaged in the 17th century during the Common
wealth, and its replacement was almost totally destroyed by a bomb
during the Blitz.
The panels incorporate emblems that relate to the Blessed Virgin
Mary, including several varieties of lily, the symbol of the
annunciation and of purity; stars, a symbol of her conception; and
the fleur de lys.
"My strong feeling was that my design should be in line with the
Gothic tradition of carrying the eyes upward," Mr O'Donoghue said.
"The ceiling is golden, literally, with the gilded Tudor emblems,
which are close in tone and colour to the warm stone of the
"My decision was to make the windows predominantly blue - a rich
range of blues, from blue-green to violet - but essentially
complementing the golden ceiling.
"My design considers the two windows as one piece of work whose
colour scheme relates to each other, whilst framing the central
Alan Younger window like wings of an altarpiece."
Ms Whittaker said: "Hughie was inspired by the glass at St
Mary's in Fairford, in Gloucestershire, where I have done
restoration work, which is of a similar date to Westminster's. He
liked the blues and reds of Fairford, and his image includes
flowers, which is a reference to Bernard Flower.
"There are 15 lights in each window, and 32 traceries in each.
We have incorporated the few fragments of Flower's glass that has
survived in the traceries. It was both an act of conservation, and
a continuing link to Flower."
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd John Hall, said: "The
Lady Chapel is one of the most stunning ecclesiastical spaces in
the world. It is exciting to receive this further reglazing of the
chapel in sympathy with the existing glass and as a tribute to its
status as a chapel in honour of our Lady."