An ecclesiastical judgment involving a stained glass window and a former Governor of Bermuda, Lord Waddington

In Re St. John the Evangelist Read-in-Whalley [2017] ECC Bla 1, the petitioners sought to replace an existing plain glass window with one of stained glass design depicting St. John the Evangelist in the left hand light and St. George in the right hand light.

The window would be a gift to the church from the Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington GCVO, and an inscription at the base of the right light would indicate that it was a gift to the church from him; in the base of the left would be a passage from Psalm 46, said to have been the inspiration for the motto in Lord Waddington’s coat of arms.

In addition, at the top of the left light is to be the coat of arms of Lord Waddington showing the coronet of a baron and the Grand Cross of the Victorian Order; at the top of the right light is to be the coat of arms of Bermuda where Lord Waddington was Governor from 1992 to 1997, and at the base of this light, a view of Lord Waddington’s childhood home, the Old Vicarage in Read.

The PCC approved of the proposal which was supported by the DAC, although some concerns were expressed by the Church Buildings Officer of Historic England, including the general principle that living donors should not be commemorated in stained glass or other church artworks.

Whilst recognising such a generally accepted principle, the Deputy Chancellor stated that it was possible to allow exceptions: in the present case the donor was a ‘son of the village’, and had held office as Home Secretary and as Governor of Bermuda. A Faculty was granted. [Link to judgment]

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