The Stained Glass Windows
Apart from the east window which is Victorian, given in memory of Albert
Young a churchwarden from 1870-77, all the windows in this church have
been made and installed between 1962 and 1988 by Herr Gunther Anton,
Master Glazier of Leonberg, Stuttgart, Germany, to designs by Herr Sepp
Vees of the twin communities of Flacht & Weissach, Germany.
Gunther was a rear gunner in the German Luftwaffe who was shot down
over Southampton in 1944 and sent to the Prisoner of War Camp at
Houndstone near Yeovil. Like many other prisoners he was allowed to live
and work on a local farm and came to East Chinnock in 1945. He was 18
at the time and anxious about his parents in East Germany, so he would
come into the church to pray and find comfort and help. As he looked at
the church from the farm where he worked the thought of making a stained
glass window began to form in his mind.
On his return to Germany in 1948 Gunther built up a business with his father in West Germany making stained glass windows. Before he died Gunther's father reminded him, "Do not forget about the window for East Chinnock." So in 1962 he returned bringing his gift of the beautiful window in the south wall of the nave, near the chancel, showing scenes of Christ's life and ascension. Then in 1967 he gave the north sanctuary window, showing Mary with the infant Jesus and Christ the King.
In 1969 Gunther again came to put in more windows but this time sent the glass ahead, only to have it impounded by HM Customs & Excise who could not believe it to be a gift ! It was released and the south chancel windows were installed showing the four Archangels: Gabriel, the messenger; Michael, the helper of the chosen people; Raphael, the angel of mercy; and Uriel, the angel of judgement and mercy. He also installed the window on the north side of the nave, by the vestry, showing the healing of the lame beggar; the woman who touched the hem of Christ's robe and the raising of Jairus' daughter.
Gunther returned in July, 1982, to complete his windows. The small centre window in the south wall, shows the annunciation, the 'overshadowing' and Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth. The large rear window shows the crucifixion and scenes of the life of Christ. The small window over the west door depicts the slaughter of the Holy Innocents and the Flight in Egypt. Lastly there is, in the north wall, Gunther's "Anna Window", where we see the Blessed Virgin Mary as a baby in the arms of her mother, surrounded by scenes in the life of Anna and Joachim.
Finally Gunther built the glass screen with the superimposed "Agnus Dei" in June, 1988. This completed twenty-six years of Gunther's most generous gifts, given as a thanksgiving to God for the kindness shown to him by the people of East Chinnock, for a safe return from the war and as an act of reconciliation. It was, as he said, his own little bit of peace in the world today. He lived only six months after seeing the windows dedicated in 1989 and, as his friends in Germany said, it seemed that his life's work was done.
More About St. Mary's Stained Glass
The Agnus Dei Screen
On entering most churches the eye tends to be drawn towards the East Window but here our attention will be taken by the tower screen which divides the nave from the bell tower. It is built of glass bricks and has the 'Agnus Dei' superimposed with the Banner of Victory.
The South West Window
This window, to the left of the tower screen, shows the Crucifixion with scenes from the early days of Jesus (from Luke 2:21 onwards) in the lower sections.
In those sections we see the Presentation of Christ in the Temple which occasioned Simeon to utter the words of the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:25-35); the Purification of Mary (Luke, 2:22-24); and the incident in the Temple at Jerusalem when, at twelve years of age, Jesus stayed behind and amazed the teachers with His understanding and answers (Luke 2:41-52). The higher sections also show Jesus carrying the Cross with the multitude and women weeping and lamenting. He is taken down from the Cross and laid in the tomb (see last chapters of all Gospels). Notice at the top the 'All Seeing Eye' - symbolising God The Father; the Heart with crown of thorns - God's love in Christ; and the Dove - the Holy Spirit.
Over The West Door
We see depicted the slaughter of the Holy Innocents and the Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18). Notice, at the top, the bloodstained dagger and the Dove with an olive sprig - a symbol of forgiveness.
The Anna Window
On the north wall, Mary the mother of our Lord is seen in the arms of her mother surrounded by scenes in the life of Anna and Joachim. There is no mention of the mother of Mary in the New Testament but during the fourth century AD some literary works known as the 'Apocryphal Gospels' came to light and in some of them her story is told. They had no children until they were well advanced in life when Joachim, distressed by his childless condition, went into the wilderness where he remained, fasting and praying for forty days, while his wife prayed at home. During their fast, each had a vision of angels who promised that a daughter would be born to them, whom they were to name Mary and dedicate to God.
North East Nave
This window, near the vestry screen, shows the healing of the blind beggar Bartimaeus (Mark 11:46-52); the woman whose haemorrhage was cured when she touched the hem of Christ's robe (Mark 5:24-34); and the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:22-43). The lower section shows Moses carrying the stone tablets on which had been written the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 1-17); the quail and manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:13-36); and the incident of the golden calf (Exodus 32) when Moses, coming down from the mountain, asked the Israelites, 'Who is on the Lord's side ?' Notice at the top the grapes - symbolic of the entry into Canaan, the Promised Land; the wheat - which with the grapes often denotes the Eucharistic wine to which Jesus gave particular significance at the Passover and the Lamb of God, who alone is worthy to receive power, wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessings (Revelation 5:12).
Centre South Nave
This small window shows the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38); the 'overshadowing', when Mary is told by the angel, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God" (Luke -1:35); and Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:3 9-56)
South East Nave
This depicts scenes from our Lord's life and Ascension. In the lower section we see the birth of Jesus in a stable (Luke 2:1-7); the angel of the Lord telling the shepherds of the birth (Luke 2:8-12); and the Wise Men offering their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:1-12). In the middle section we see Jesus praying in the Garden (Mark 14:32-42) before His arrest and when the disciples were asked to watch and pray; the Crucifixion; and the empty tomb (Mark 16:1-8) when a young man dressed in a white robe told Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome that Jesus had risen from the dead. The upper sections depict Christ's Resurrection and Ascension
The SanctuaryOn the south side we see the four Archangels Michael, the helper of the chosen people and Gabriel, the messengerRaphael, the angel of mercy and Uriel, the angel of judgement and mercyOn the north side we find Mary with the infant Jesus and Christ the King.
The East Window, in Victorian style, shows the Crucifixion of Jesus with Mary and John standing either side of the Cross.
It was given in memory of Albert Young a churchwarden from 1870-77
Text © Richard Terrell (1997)
Photos © Julie & Roger Jewell 2009
To see more of Sepp Vees' work, access an on-line gallery of his work and the Weissach community website via the Links
button on the top Navigation menu.