This week our pupils have been able to have Chapel services in their year groups. Our Chapel was built in 1905 and has been used by our Lambrook pupils and community ever since. 

Ten years ago, at the start of Mr Perry’s tenure as Headmaster here, during the Michaelmas Term, a new stained glass window was installed in our Chapel at Lambrook, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the school’s foundation. Although the existing glass was plain and unremarkable, the window space itself had two particularly interesting features: firstly, it was round (a ‘rose’, as such circular windows are sometimes known) and secondly, it was supported by a wrought iron framework which we retained and incorporated as part of a distinctive geometry.

The commission for this ‘oculus’, an alternative term for ‘eye-shaped’ windows, was offered to Caroline Loveys, a local artist in stained glass, whose mother Sandra had worked at the school. Ideas generated by pupils on the School Council were first discussed with Caroline, who then interpreted them through her personal inspiration and originality before painting a scaled-down watercolour design for Lambrook’s final approval. The window itself is 1.5 metres in diameter!

The overall theme is Trinitarian, depicting God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as well as mankind here on earth, through symbolic images and colours. These were explained during the Commemoration and Dedication Service on the 27th of November 2010 which was led by Bishop John Bickersteth, a distinguished Old Lambrookian, with the assistance of Bishop John Perry, our Headmaster’s father. A brief summary follows, including the illustrative Bible passages which were read out in the service.

The Holy Spirit is represented by the dove at the top of the window, which descended on Jesus when he was baptised in the River Jordan. The dove is also a symbol of peace.

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Mark 1:9-11)

Jesus himself, God the Son, is represented by the fish on the right. Ichthus (the ancient Greek for fish) is also an acrostic for ‘Jesus Christ, God’s Own Saviour’. He also called the Apostles ‘fishers of men’.

He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? Go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes… And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. (Mark 6:38,41-43)

 The candle flame on the left represents God the Father, often described in the Old Testament as a burning fire. Candles are also symbols of contemplation and prayer.

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-9)

The clasped hands at the base represent all of mankind, made in the image of God, and the healing support of charity. Although white-skinned in the first design, the hands in the finished window are two-toned grey to symbolise multi-racialism:

And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. (Mark 1:29-31)

At the very centre of the window, the tree stands for God’s creation on Earth, and the tree of life from the Book of Genesis. Lambrook has used the image of a tree as a defining symbol for many years – originally an oak, and latterly a cedar:

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)

The band of leaves surrounding the tree picks up a pattern on the curtain hanging behind the Chapel altar. The leaves are a reference to the last of Christ’s seven ‘I am’ sayings in Saint John’s Gospel:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman…ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15: 1, 5)

Caroline’s curving black arcs that swirl throughout the window bring to mind the Pentecostal wind of the Holy Spirit, and the four background colours radiating out from the inner hub (green, blue, yellow/gold, red) are equally symbolic:

Red is the liturgical colour associated with Pentecost and the Holy Spirit in general. Gold is used for Christ’s major feast days – Christmas, the Epiphany, Candlemas, the Transfiguration, Easter, and the Ascension. A symbol of kingship, gold was one of the gifts presented to baby Jesus by the Magi. God the Father completes the three persons of the Holy Trinity, the seasonal Church colour for which is green. Finally, blue is always associated with Saint Mary, the mother of Jesus, through whom Christ was born both human as well as divine.

Of course, these four colours also represent the school Houses (Alexander, Athlone, Dewar and Goodhart) which were inherited from Haileybury Junior School at the merger in 1997.

All that remains, after this kaleidoscopic tour of our stained glass window, is to consider the eight words around its circumference. They spell out the refrain of the Leavers’ Hymn, which is traditionally sung at the end of each academic year: God be with you till we meet again.

As the Commemoration Service ended, Bishop John Bickersteth dedicated the new window with the following prayer:

I dedicate this stained glass window to the greater glory of God, in commemoration of all who have been associated with Lambrook and Lambrook Haileybury over 150 years. Almighty God, source of all inspiration and beauty, we celebrate the dedication of this window; we praise you for the talents you have given to its creator, and the blessings you have given to its sponsor. May this gift be a reminder of that unity of body, heart, mind and soul which springs from our acceptance of your grace, for you are, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and forever. Amen.

A brass plaque was subsequently installed to mark the occasion, and its inscription is as follows: This Rose Window by Caroline Loveys was dedicated on 27th November 2010 by Bishop John Bickersteth to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Lambrook School.

As we, in our turn, celebrate Lambrook’s 160th anniversary exactly one decade later, let us too draw inspiration from this fine stained glass window so that we can continue to nurture the potential of our pupils in their studies, their faith, and their lives for many years to come.

John Kimbell, School Archivist

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