The Long and the Short of Heaton, Butler and Bayne Windows in Sydney


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Karla Whitmore

Heaton, Butler and Bayne’s work in New South Wales can be found in seven locations, four in Sydney and three in the regional towns of Young and Scone and Goulburn’s Anglican Cathedral. In Sydney they are in St Augustine’s Church, Neutral Bay, All Saints Church, Woollahra, St Martin’s Church, Killara and St Andrew’s Cathedral.[1] Although a relatively short list, it includes examples of styles from the 1860s to the early twentieth century plus some interesting local references.

St Augustine’s Church, Neutral Bay has twelve windows installed from 1926 to c.1940. The 1926 windows were reported in the press as far afield as Cairns and Hobart. The majority of the windows follow the firm’s Gothic Revival style with groups of carefully modelled figures whose gestures and flowing robes create a sense of movement, decorative architectural canopies and borders and bright attractive colours. A three-light window in the north transept, Sermon on the Mount, (Fig. 1) has waratahs, Christmas bells and bottlebrush nestled in foliage beneath the figure of Christ. A two-light window on the north wall Christ Preaching from the Boat (Fig. 2) c.1940 recalls the clear colours and linear painting of Robert Bayne’s earlier designs.

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Fig. 1: Sermon on the Mount, St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Neutral Bay, NSW c.1932     Photograph: Karla Whitmore

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Fig. 2: Christ Preaching from the Boat, St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Neutral Bay, NSW c.1940     Photograph: Karla Whitmore

Bayne joined Clement Heaton and glazier James Butler in their London studio becoming a partner and their designer of ecclesiastical windows from 1862 producing aesthetically pleasing designs. Three years earlier they shared premises with Clayton & Bell whose designs they executed for a time. Clement Heaton designed secular and heraldic windows and pursued research on techniques of glass making and pigmentation, considerably expanding the range of colours available. The firm increased in size and range to include church decoration, mosaics and tiles and memorial brasses. Its artists trained at art school at the same time as they trained with the firm.[2] It continued into the twentieth century with the involvement of the sons of the founders finally closing in 1953.

First World War memorial windows on the south side at St Augustine’s are of particular interest. The 3-light window at the entrance to the church depicts Christ with figures representing the branches of the armed services and, prominently, a nurse. The significance of the iconography has been discussed in detail in a thesis.[3] Heraldic motifs feature in the tracery and lower band: the State Badge of Western Australia and South Australia, the arms of Victoria and Tasmania, New South Wales, Australia and Queensland[4] and Australian Military Force badges. In the south nave is a memorial to William Charles Jones (Fig. 3) whose death in 1919 the inscription places at Chanak. It includes the arms of New South Wales and Australia and Christmas bells. The style of figures in both windows is similar to those of the firm’s contemporary war memorial windows in English churches.

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Fig. 3: William Charles Jones Memorial, St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Neutral Bay, NSW 1926     Photograph: Karla Whitmore

St Martin’s Church, Killara has six windows dating from c. 1930-1940, two of which are signed.   In the two-light window, I am the Resurrection and the Life, (Fig. 4) the figure of Christ is again shown in a red robe beneath stylised architectural canopies and the background colours denote early morning. Interestingly, the window based on the Pre-Raphaelite artist’s Holman Hunt’s celebrated painting The Light of the World (Fig. 5) is not dark and atmospheric, places Christ further forward and includes a snake at his feet. The same figure, without the snake, appears in an earlier Heaton, Butler and Bayne window in the Church of St Cadfarch, Penegoes, Wales c.1904.[5]

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Fig. 4: I am the Resurrection and the Life, and detail of Heaton, Butler and Bayne signature, St. Martin’s Anglican Church, Killara, NSW 1935 Photograph: Karla Whitmore

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Fig. 5: The Light of the World, St. Martin’s Anglican Church, Killara NSW 1930s     Photograph: Karla Whitmore

The artistic value of contemporary movements such as the Pre-Raphaelites and Arts and Crafts Movement exemplified by William Morris was acknowledged by the firm and some influence can be seen in their work in Sydney. Although the impressive window of St Martin (Fig. 6) on the west wall at St Martin’s Church is undocumented there are stylistic pointers to its being by Heaton, Butler and Bayne. The life-sized figures of St George, St Martin and St Michael have some of the romantic flourish of Morris & Co. That of St George is seen in some of the firm’s English windows dressed in the same garments and in St Peter’s Church, Glenelg in South Australia.[6] The crown with shimmering stars appears in the Jones window at Neutral Bay and in English windows which have similar foliage and background treatment. The window commemorates Lieutenant Geoffrey Campbell Scarr RAF who was killed in an aircraft accident in England in 1918.  Above the figure of St Martin is the RAF insignia of gold crown and bird with outstretched wings over four feathers. During the Second World War the window was removed and stored for safekeeping.[7]

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Fig. 6: St. Martin, St. George and St. Michael, St. Martin’s Anglican Church, Killara NSW 1922     Photograph: Karla Whitmore

The Women at the Sepulchre (Fig. 7), a 3-light chancel clerestory window nearest the south transept in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, commemorates Michael Metcalfe, businessman and active supporter of the cathedral and church organisations who died in 1890. The window was the gift of Metcalfe’s eight children and the design was selected by one of his daughters during a visit to England.[8] The window is a Pre-Raphaelite style depiction of the Women at the Sepulchre, Mary Magdalene in the central light with the Virgin Mary, Mary Salome to their right and the angel and tomb to their left. Behind the figures is a landscape of hills, trees and three crosses in the distance. The figure of Mary Magdalene also appears in the window by Heaton, Butler & Bayne c.1893 at Christ Church, Chalford in England and the same angel and Mary Magdalene, mirror reversed, are in two lights of their west window at St Mary Magdalene Church, Chewton Medip.[9]  

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Fig. 7: The Women at the Sepulchre, St. Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral, Sydney NSW 1894     Photograph: Karla Whitmore

The window has deep colouring of browns, greens and yellow with white to suggest sunrise.  The figures are expressively drawn with great attention paid to folds of garments which swirl around the bodies. Above the figures are tracery windows containing symbols relating to Metcalfe’s business and religious affiliations: a crossed hammer and pliers indicating industry and honour and a shield with spear and sponge, the instruments of the passion of Christ.  The shield also has the Latin SPQR (the Senate and People of Rome) indicating the Roman state.  Gold crowns are in the two outer tracery windows.

The largest number of windows were made for All Saints Anglican Church, Woollahra, and installed over a long period of time from 1876 to 1926. On their completion one interstate news report suggested that church authorities may be unaware of the capability of local firms when they continue to approach English ones.[10] However, as with St Augustine’s, the idea was to have a uniform set of windows from the same studio which is seen in the city’s cathedrals rather than churches. The scheme of the All Saints’ windows as laid out by the first rector, Canon Mort, was adhered to; the only modification was that one figure was redone by Sydney artist Norman Carter.11[11] Two windows by him were added in the 1930s.

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Fig. 8: Ascension, All Saints Anglican Church, Woollahra NSW 1876   Photograph: Karla Whitmore

The longevity of manufacture is evidenced in some variations of style. The five 3-light chancel windows from 1876, including the central one of the Ascension, (Fig. 8) are brightly coloured as is the south transept window. Twelve 3-light nave windows with sextfoil tracery mostly have saints depicted sedately in more muted colours including Moses, David and Melchizedek (Fig. 9). Some are more animated biblical scenes such as the Martyrdom of St Stephen (Fig. 10) and St Paul Preaching at Athens. Two adjacent windows on the north wall differ again, one in using light bright colouring and decorative rather than architectural canopies above Saints Matthew, Mark and Luke. The other has richer colouring, particularly an undecorated ultramarine background, to frame St John the Baptist. Stylistically, this window may have come from another firm, possibly Mayer of Munich.

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Fig. 9: Moses, David and Melchizedek, All Saints Anglican Church, Woollahra NSW   Photograph: Karla Whitmore

Three narrow lancet windows on the west wall sit below a rose window with strongly defined sandstone tracery. It depicts Christ in Glory above the Angel of Judgement surrounded by archangels. Overglazing was applied to the rose window in 1934 and in 1946 a fire destroyed the roof and two small window panels at the western end, the stained glass otherwise escaping damage.

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Fig. 10: Martyrdom of St. Stephen, All Saints Anglican Church, Woollahra NSW     Photograph: Karla Whitmore

Heaton, Butler and Bayne’s windows in Sydney display their ability to produce attractive, varied and high quality windows over half a century. Also notable amongst their Australian windows during this period are the 7-light east window at St Saviour’s Cathedral, Goulburn in New South Wales (1885) and the Great West Window at St Peter’s Glenelg in South Australia (1913).

[1] Mrs S.B.M. Bayne (1986), Heaton, Butler & Bayne: Un Siecle d’Art du Vitrail, Mrs S.B.M. Bayne, Switzerland.

[2] Advertiser (Adelaide). 2 January 1900, p.5

[3] Susan Kellett, ‘Australia’s Martial Madonna: the army nurse’s commemoration in stained glass windows (1919-1951)’, PhD thesis, the University of Queensland, 2016, p.67-74.

[4] Email from Stephen Szabo, Secretary of the Australian Heraldry Society, 12 September 2017.

[5] http://stainedglass.llgc/org/uk/person/188.

[6] Heaton Butler and Bayne photo pool. www/

[7] St Martin’s Church, Killara Record of Church Furnishings, Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society 2003.

[8] Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 17 February 1894, p.7.

[9] Heaton, Butler and Bayne photo pool. www/

[10] The Advertiser (Adelaide), 16 June 1926, p.11.

[11] Watchman, 29 April 1926, p.8.








The low key career of Frederick Tarrant


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Karla Whitmore

A glass painter and maker of stained glass windows in early twentieth-century Sydney, Frederick James Tarrant was responsible for a larger body of work than is immediately apparent.  He was originally from Melbourne where in the 1890s he was head journeyman painter at Hughes and Rogers of Carlton where he had been apprenticed.  There he formed an ongoing friendship with Norman St. Clair Carter who went on to a successful career in Sydney as a portrait painter and stained glass designer and maker.[1]

Tarrant moved to Sydney where he advertised as Tarrant & Anderson in 1898 at 191 Elizabeth Street, near the Great Synagogue.[2]  In 1898 the firm was reported as making a window at the Presbyterian, now Uniting Church, Waverley and the Catholic Church, Wee Waa. The following year he advertised for apprentice ‘Glass Stainers and Art Painters’ for Tarrant & Co., located at 83 William Street, Sydney.[3]  In 1906 he wrote to the Melbourne-based stained glass artist William Montgomery to say he was doing fairly well but had little glass painting work.[4]

The firm expanded with a move to 24 Taylor Street, Darlinghurst around 1913. Tarrant made windows for Norman Carter, the earliest being two 1917 windows for the Presbyterian, now Uniting Church, Neutral Bay. They commemorate an elder of the church who was a sea captain with lively depictions of Viking ships. The windows are signed designed by Carter and painted by Tarrant.  The east window at Christ Church, Queanbeyan (1923) and two windows at St James’ Church, Pitt Town (1928) were made by Tarrant to Carter’s designs. A window depicting the Good Shepherd was made for the Methodist Church, Young (1921).

Ttarrant-st-stephens-willoughby-1911-kwarrant made a 4-light window for St Stephen’s Church, Willoughby (1911), to a design by J.S. Watkins, a member of the Royal Art Society who ran ‘Wattie’s’ art studio in Sydney. Four depictions of Christ are painted in strong linear style.





Figure 1: J.S. Watkins (designer), F.J. Tarrant (glass-painter), Christ (detail), St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Willoughby, N.S.W. 1911

Three lights of a 5-light window at St Michael’s Church, Surry Hills, depicting the Good Shepherd (1918) are signed by Tarrant. The outer two lights were much later 1940 additions which are signed by John Ashwin. Three windows with saints at St John’s Church, Darlinghurst (c.1916) have been attributed to Tarrant by stained glass artist and restorer Kevin Little.  A signed window depicting St George at St George’s Church, Hurstville (1918) is a memorial to soldiers who died in World War I. The rich red, magenta and blue complemented by yellow and bright green make an effective colour scheme.








Figure 2: F.J. Tarrant, St. George, St. George’s Anglican Church, Hurstville (NSW) 1918





The only interstate windows appear to be those designed by art teacher Amalie Field which were made for St Andrew’s Kirk, Ballarat (1921).  More work was done for regional churches in New South Wales.

The largest number of windows by Tarrant are in the Baptist Church, Auburn (1928), including six lancet nave windows, two triple transept windows a triple-light window above the choir gallery depicting the Christ as the Light of the World, the Sower and Reaper as naturalistic figures with a sense of movement and vibrant colours. Tarrant collaborated with the architect and pastor in selecting subjects for the windows which include Hope and Light of the World.  An unusual arched leadlight skylight framing the sanctuary has the same border pattern as other windows around the words ‘I am the vine ye are the branches’.  It has regular and irregular shapes of textured and opalescent glass, a contrast also seen in his painted windows.


Figure 3: F.J. Tarrant, detail of the Sower, Auburn Baptist Church, (NSW) 1928

A striking window was made for historic St Luke’s Church, Liverpool. It was dedicated in 1913 and is signed ‘F. Tarrant Stained glass artist Taylor Street Surry Hills’. The bold design and colour scheme emphasise the richly garbed three-quarter figure of a knight in the foreground being blessed by Christ. The knight has a blue suit of armour with gold trim, garland of leaves and a standard with the flag of St George who is usually depicted in armour with a white tunic and red cross. The figures are set in a landscape with water and distant green and brown mountains.

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Figure 4: F.J. Tarrant, St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Liverpool (NSW) 1913

Tarrant’s large-scale work can be seen at All Saints’ Church, Singleton, where he remade Clayton & Bell’s windows from the original church and designed and made an additional two windows (1913). One donated by F.H. Dangar of London is a 5-light window which has Christ holding the banner of Christianity with around thirty figures including apostles, prophets, wise men, crusaders and angels in a sweeping arc below.  Their focus is the Celestial City on a hill to which Christ gestures. An interesting feature of the design is a sole figure in a small boat in the far right panel while the figures occupy the other four panels.

The Masonic Hall in Castlereagh Street, Sydney, was remodelled in 1915 including a dome with masonic symbols in stained glass by F.J. Tarrant.[v] The building was demolished but 24 of the symbols of Masonic office in the border have been remade as a panel in the present Masonic Centre by Kevin Little. The colouring is muted brown on a pale green background.


Figure 5: F.J. Tarrant, Masonic Hall, Sydney (NSW) 1915 (remade in the 1970s)

A stained-glass ceiling survives intact in the former Bank of NSW building, now retail premises, in Pitt Street, Sydney. Opened in 1913 it has a tiled entrance floor by the well-known Melocco Bros. The ceiling ‘was made by W.F. Tarrant (sic)’.[6] The colouring and glass are similar to the skylight at Auburn, though the design is more delicate. The central focal point is the Advance Australia coat of arms, an unofficial one widely used since the nineteenth century up to 1908. This depiction includes an atypical ox in place of a garb of wheat along with the fleece and sailing ship and an anchor in place of a miner’s pick and axe.

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Figure 6: F.J. Tarrant, Skylight, former Bank of NSW, Pitt Street, Sydney (NSW) 1913

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Figure 6a: F.J. Tarrant, Detail of skylight, former Bank of NSW, Pitt Street, Sydney (NSW) 1913

An art nouveau window was made for the former Presbyterian Church, Katoomba, now a café, in 1914.  It has three rectangular panels, the semicircular topped central one with a motif of a particularly lush burning bush set in art nouveau leadlight designs with opalescent glass and bullseyes. Three similar art nouveau panels are between the interior doors to the former church.

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Figure 7: F.J. Tarrant, Burning Bush, former Presbyterian Church, Katoomba (NSW) 1914

Tarrant’s largest church window is the 6-light altar window at Holy Trinity Church, Dulwich Hill (1925) which depicts Christ Feeding the Multitude. The focus is on the five large-scale figures in the four central lights facing inwards while smaller figures in the background represent the multitude.

Bright red, blue and green of garments and landscape are balanced across the design and opalescent glass used for the rocks in the distance adds interest. The composition is framed by bunches of grapes in the tracery above religious symbols and in the lower border. The window is signed Tarrant & Co. Taylor Street. A single lancet window depicting the Baptism of Christ at the rear of the church (1925) is also signed by Tarrant.


Figure 8: F.J. Tarrant, Christ Feeding the Multitude, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Dulwich Hill, N.S.W. 1925

As well as stained glass Tarrant designed and painted a tiled mural behind the altar at St Luke’s chapel, Sydney Hospital in Macquarie Street. The mural is signed ‘F. Tarrant, Taylor St Darlinghurst 1913’. It depicts the Good Shepherd rescuing a sheep which has become entangled in a bush. The figure is painted in Tarrant’s strong linear style and the treatment and colouring is reminiscent of nineteenth century religious painting.

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Figure 9: F.J. Tarrant, Good Shepherd, Sydney Hospital, Macquarie Street, Sydney (NSW) 1913

Tarrant’s firm continued into the 1920s but after a few years he advertised glass counters, mirrors and shelves for sale. Two years later, Tarrant and Co. was declared bankrupt and the firm’s contents auctioned.[7] J.C. Chalmers and J.H. Kirkpatrick were named as partners along with Tarrant, who died in 1929.[8]  His work demonstrates the significance of versatility and collaboration to sustain a 30-year career in Sydney.

[1] Norman Carter, Notes for an Autobiography, p.19, ML MSS 471/5, Mitchell Library, Sydney.

[2] See The Catholic Press throughout 1898 -99, for example, 20 August 1898, p. 12.

[3] Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 1899, p. 10.

[4] Email from Bronwyn Hughes, 15 November 2016. Correspondence from Herbert Grimbly to Montgomery, 4 October 1906. William Montgomery Collection MS15414 Box 6/3, State Library of Victoria.

[5] Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September 1915, p.4.

[6] Building, vol 6, no 69, 12 May 1913, p.52.

[7] Sydney Morning Herald, 26 July 1928, p.13.

[8] Sydney Morning Herald, 20 April 1929, p. 1

Shakespearean Characters in Stained Glass


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 Beverley Sherry

Portraits of Shakespeare himself in stained glass are numerous, and in an earlier essay I wrote about a notable Australian example, Ferguson & Urie’s 1862 Shakespeare window for George Coppin’s Apollo Music Hall in Melbourne.[i] Here I wish to focus upon actual characters from the plays, those portrayed at Cumbooquepa, Brisbane and Southwark Cathedral, London.

Shakespeare’s Women at Cumbooquepa

Now part of Somerville House, a girls’ school, Cumbooquepa was built as a residence in 1890 by William Stephens for his mother, widow of a leading Brisbane pioneer, Thomas Blacket Stephens (1819-1877). Stephens, whose monogram is inscribed in the windows at Cumbooquepa, was a member of the Legislative Council and held posts as Colonial Secretary, Postmaster-General, and Secretary for Lands, and was also an influential newspaper proprietor, owning the Brisbane Courier and founding The Queenslander. The name “Cumbooquepa” was chosen by him for his first (modest) home on this site in recognition of the local Aborigines’ name for waterholes behind the house.[ii]

This first Cumbooquepa was demolished, to be replaced by the present building in 1890, designed by G.H.M. Addison of the Brisbane and Melbourne firm of Oakden, Addison & Kemp. The stained glass is attributed to William Montgomery (1850-1927), who worked with the same firm at this time in designing stained glass for North Park (1889) at Essendon, Melbourne. In 1890 Montgomery had also designed the huge Shakespeare window at Norwood in Melbourne, now unfortunately no more because Norwood was demolished in the 1950s.[iii]

The Norwood window included a vast assemblage of characters from the plays. The handling of Shakespearean characters at Cumbooquepa is quite different and more dramatic, although the design does suggest the work of Montgomery, especially the interest in costume and the handling of lead-lines.[iv] Montgomery was a masterly draughtsman and placed a high value on lead-lines, as he explained in an address to the Victorian Institute of Architects in 1907:

It is not easy to over-rate the extent of the gain this black line adds to the colour. I imagine a window, a coloured window, one blaze of contrasting hues, brilliant, as only glass can be, with the light streaming through it – how the mass of conflicting and dazzling rays could confuse and hurt the eye if they were not sorted out, as it were, and given coherence and repose by the strong, dark lead-line.[v]

Whether Montgomery was indeed the artist for Cumbooquepa or not, the stained glass there exemplifies his ideas on design.

The house was designed with an imposing foyer paved in black-and-white marble, and stained glass has been imaginatively incorporated into this architectural space.


Figure 1: Entrance of Cumbooquepa (1890), Brisbane  Photo: Courtesy of Somerville House

Set in alcoves around the foyer are four life-size figures of Shakespearean heroines: on either side of the front door, Viola from Twelfth Night and Rosalind from As You Like It; Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing and Portia from The Merchant of Venice at the opposite end of the foyer, which opens onto a breezeway.  All four figures are defined boldly through the lead-lines and rich colours; at the same time, the individual character of each heroine is skilfully evoked.


Figure 2: Rosalind  Cumbooquepa, Brisbane. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890. Photo: Courtesy of Somerville House


Figure 3: Detail, Rosalind  Cumbooquepa, Brisbane. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890. Photo: Courtesy of Somerville House


Figure 4: Detail, quotation below Rosalind  Cumbooquepa, Brisbane. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890.   Photo: Courtesy of Somerville House

This is a purposeful Rosalind, the dominating character of As You Like It. She holds a written paper in her hand, presumably one of Orlando’s love poems that she has removed from a tree (Act III. ii). As suggested in the play (Act III. ii), she is distinctly blonde. A strong but complex heroine, she confesses, in the quotation below her portrait, “I could find in my heart to disgrace my man’s apparel . . .” (Act II. iv), a reminder of her disguise in the Forest of Arden, although the artist has chosen not to show her in male attire. The elaborate monogram TBS is for Thomas Blacket Stephens.


Figure 5: Beatrice  Cumbooquepa, Brisbane. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890. Photo: Douglass Baglin

The man-hater Beatrice looks with a disdainful backward glance, presumably at Benedick, who calls her “My dear Lady Disdain” in the opening scene of Much Ado About Nothing. In a reversal, later in the play, he declares to her, “I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is that not strange?” A softened “Lady Disdain” replies edgily with the quotation (not reproduced here) below her portrait: “As strange as the thing I know not. It were as possible to say I love nothing so well as you. But believe me not, and yet I lie not; I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing” (Act IV. i).


Figure 6: Detail, Viola  Cumbooquepa, Brisbane. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890. Photo: Courtesy of Somerville House

This portrait, which can be magnified on screen, exemplifies the artistry at work in these windows: the confident handling of lead-lines and striking use of pot-metal glass, red and gold predominating, but note the two jewel-like blue buttons. In addition, details are finely painted onto the surface of the glass – the book, the pot and delicate flower, the curtain, the back of the padded chair, the fluted columns, the elaborate folds of Viola’s costume, her collar and necklace, her hands, and above all, her facial features. The artist has captured the spirit of Viola, the saddest-looking of the four heroines at Cumbooquepa. Her short hair and cap suggest her disguise as page-boy to Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night.


Figure 7: Detail, quotation below Viola  Cumbooquepa, Brisbane. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890. Photo: Douglass Baglin

The disguised Viola is in love with Duke Orsino but cannot reveal her love, as evidenced in the quotation below her portrait: “She never told her love . . . ” (Act II. iv). This is one of Viola’s most moving speeches, imbued with dramatic irony, because she is here speaking to the Duke with veiled reference to herself. The quotation applies perfectly to the mournful figure of Viola portrayed in this window.


Figure 8: Portia Cumbooquepa, Brisbane.  Construction behind the window obscures Portia but this photograph shows well how stained glass has been incorporated into the architecture. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890.    Photo: Courtesy of Somerville House


Figure 9: Portia Cumbooquepa, Brisbane. Photograph taken from behind and reversed. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890. Photo: Courtesy of Somerville House

A strikingly beautiful Portia holds a golden casket in her hands – “All that glisters is not gold” (The Merchant of Venice Act 11. vii). Below her portrait the quotation (not reproduced here) refers to the dictates of her father’s will and the caskets from which her suitors must choose: “In terms of choice I am not solely led / By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes. / Besides, the lottery of my destiny / Bars me the right of voluntary choosing” (Act II. i).

These four windows demonstrate the imagination and skill of an artist who knew the text of Shakespeare’s plays, understood the differences of these four heroines, portrayed them in stained glass accordingly, and chose quotations that add meaning to each portrayal.

A bust of Shakespeare appears above the four female characters. In addition, two jesters, Feste from Twelfth Night and Touchstone from As You Like It, are depicted in fanlights.


Figure 10: Shakespeare  Bust surmounting the portrait of each Shakespearean heroine Cumbooquepa, Brisbane. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890.Photo: Courtesy of Somerville House   


Figure 11: Touchstone   The jester from As You Like It, above the front door of Cumbooquepa, Brisbane. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890. Photo: Courtesy of Somerville House

That early pioneer of Brisbane, Thomas Blacket Stephens, has left his mark everywhere in the windows, his monogram TBS worked elaborately below every portrait. Stephens did not live to see this splendid residence nor was he to know that the Brisbane High School for Girls (founded in 1899) moved to Cumbooquepa in 1919. The official name of the school then became Somerville House, in honour of Mary Somerville (1780-1872), a distinguished Scottish scientist and mathematician. There is a nice fitness that the stained glass portrays four of Shakespeare’s characteristically enterprising women.  

Shakespearean Characters in Southwark Cathedral, London

The later nineteenth century, when the Cumbooquepa windows were made, was a buoyant period for stained glass and in 1897 a Shakespeare memorial window was made for St Saviour’s Church in Southwark; the church became Southwark Cathedral in 1905. Historically, Southwark is known as Shakespeare’s stamping ground, where his plays were performed in the Globe Theatre on the south bank of the Thames. In more recent times, the association with Shakespeare has been strongly revived through the New Globe Theatre, which opened in 1997 and is a few blocks from Southwark Cathedral.[vi]

The 1897 window was made by the firm of Charles Eamer Kempe in three lights. It depicted the Muse of poetry in the centre light with the dove of the Holy Spirit above her, flanked by Shakespeare in the left light and the poet Spenser in the right.[vii] This window was destroyed in an air raid during World War II. A sculpture beneath it, portraying a relaxed Shakespeare, survived.


Figure 12: Statue of Shakespeare, Southwark Cathedral.   By Henry McCarthy, 1912. Photo: Christopher Parkinson

To replace the lost 1897 Shakespeare window, a new window was made, and signed, by Christopher Webb (1886-1966) and installed in 1954. It has been considered “stunningly unusual”.[viii] Also in three lights, this window has no religious associations and does not include a portrait of Shakespeare. Rather, it is devoted solely to celebrating Shakespeare’s creative genius: 21 characters from the plays are portrayed and, across the base of the window, Jaques’ “Seven Ages of Man” from As You Like It are represented. When magnified, the photographic image reproduced here reveals the mass of detail delineated by the artist.


Figure 13: Shakespeare window, Southwark Cathedral, London   By Christopher Webb, 1954.  Photo: Christopher Parkinson

The dominating figure is Prospero in the centre light, the lordly magician of The Tempest, sometimes seen as the older Shakespeare’s alter ego. The figure of Ariel flies upwards in a stream of light above Prospero and a grotesque Caliban cringes at his feet. To the left and right of Ariel, the initials W and S (for William Shakespeare) appear, and worked across two quatrefoils at the top are lines from a speech of Prospero, “These our actors, / As I foretold you…” (The Tempest Act IV.i).  With his mouth open, eyes and hands directed upward, he seems to be speaking the lines. Flanking Prospero, in the left and right lights, are characters from the comedies and the tragedies. From the top of the left light these appear in order: Bottom, Puck, and Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream); Malvolio, Olivia, and Maria (Twelfth Night); Falstaff (Henry IV); Portia (The Merchant of Venice); and Jaques and Touchstone (As You Like It). The right light portrays: Romeo and Juliet; Richard II; Richard III; Othello; King Lear; Lady Macbeth; and Hamlet.[ix]

The photographing of this window – as of all stained glass and works of art in general – relates to a landmark essay of the twentieth century, Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1935). Benjamin laments the depreciation of the authenticity, the “aura”, of an original work of art through photographic reproduction. At the same time he acknowledges that photography “can bring out those aspects of the original that are unattainable to the naked eye yet accessible to the lens”.[x] Benjamin lived too early for the internet and might have marvelled at today’s digital technology. True, the unique “aura” of Christopher Webb’s window exists only in its setting at Southwark Cathedral but the extraordinary detail of his work is accessible through Christopher Parkinson’s photography.

The artist, Christopher Webb, has endeavoured to encompass as much as possible in this window and, while the overall effect might seem crowded, the work has been meticulously planned.


Figure 14: Detail, Shakespeare window, Southwark Cathedral   From A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Bottom, Puck, and Titania; from Twelfth Night: Malvolio, Olivia, and Maria. By Christopher Webb, 1954. Photo: Christopher Parkinson

Figure 14 shows Bottom with his ass’s head, the trickster Puck who has managed this metamorphosis, and Titania asleep. The scene from Twelfth Night shows Malvolio smiling, in yellow stockings, and cross-gartered – three things Olivia cannot abide (Act II. v) – while Maria, the deviser of the joke, titters in the background.


 Figure 15: Detail, Shakespeare window, Southwark Cathedral    Falstaff (Henry IV); Portia (The Merchant of Venice); Jaques and Touchstone (As You Like It). By Christopher Webb, 1954. Photo: Christopher Parkinson

Figure 15 shows Falstaff typically larger than life. Portia is disguised as a young lawyer for the trial scene in The Merchant of Venice (Act IV. i). The philosophical Jaques, who gives us the “Seven of Ages of Man” (As You Like It Act II. vii), is deep in thought; his subdued attire and rather cynical expression contrast with the gaiety of the jester Touchstone, whose colourful costume is in tune with Falstaff’s.


Figure 16: Detail, Shakespeare window, Southwark Cathedral   Romeo and Juliet; Richard II; Richard III; Othello. By Christopher Webb, 1954. Photo: Christopher Parkinson

In Figure 16, the little tableau of Romeo and Juliet at the top, in gentle golden colours, suggests the balcony scene (Romeo and Juliet Act II. ii). Richard II is anguished, looking in a mirror as in Richard II Act IV. i; and a despairing Richard III is un-horsed (Richard III Act V. iv). Othello, a figure of heroic dignity, has a darker skin tone than the other characters; his stockings match the pink of his Moorish cummerbund; and he is tense, speaking in anger.


Figure 17: Detail, Shakespeare window, Southwark Cathedral   King Lear; Hamlet; Lady Macbeth. By Christopher Webb, 1954. Photo: Christopher Parkinson

King Lear is portrayed as a wild old man who has discarded his crown. A serious young Hamlet contemplates Yorick’s skull as in the graveyard scene of Hamlet (Act V. i). The barefoot, blank-eyed Lady Macbeth, her hair down in plaits and a long taper in her hand, is sleep-walking (and talking). All this is noted, particularly her eyes, by witnesses (Macbeth Act V. i). The crow and bat are her appropriate companions.


The Shakespeare windows at Southwark Cathedral and Cumbooquepa share a delight in Shakespeare’s characters and manifest both artists’ knowledge of the plays. Yet they are very different works. The Cumbooquepa windows focus upon women, four individual characters in four separate windows that are defining elements of an architectural interior; stained glass as an architectural art is on display here. The Southwark work provides a cornucopia of characters – the noble, the vile, the comic, the tragic – within one window, all drawn with acute attention to detail. The unique “aura” of both works can never be lifted out of their respective contexts in Brisbane and London, but digital photography and the internet have made possible the pictorial reproduction offered here.

Finally, the Cumbooquepa and Southwark Cathedral Shakespeare windows have a common connection with the Second World War. The original 1897 Shakespeare window in the Cathedral was destroyed by German bombing in 1941 and replaced with the new window by Christopher Webb. In 1942, Australia was under threat of Japanese bombing and Cumbooquepa was commandeered by the United States Army, East Asian Command as their Headquarters. Brisbane did not suffer bombing but the 1890s Shakespeare windows at Cumbooquepa were carefully removed and stored. At the end of the war, the school returned to Somerville House and the windows were reinstalled in Cumbooquepa.[xi]

[i]  “Shakespeare in Stained Glass”, Glaas Inc Research 2016: here /06/22/shakespeare-in-stained-glass/

[ii]  An interesting article on Cumbooquepa appeared in The Queenslander 11 February 1932, p. 5:; see also Elgin Reid’s entry on Stephens in the Australian Dictionary of Biography

[iii]  On Norwood, see my essay, “Shakespeare in Stained Glass”

[iv]   I have made this tentative attribution in my book Australia’s Historic Stained Glass (Sydney: Murray Child, 1991), p.45.  For a comprehensive study of Montgomery, see Bronwyn Hughes, “Designing Stained Glass for Australia 1887-1927: The Art and Professional Life of William Montgomery” (PhD thesis, University of Melbourne, 2007).

[v]  Royal Victorian Institute of Architects’ Journal, 5 (1907), p. 156.

[vi]  Southwark Cathedral has long claimed Shakespeare as its “most distinguished parishioner” – Kenneth London, Stained Glass in Southwark Cathedral (London: Southwark Cathedral, 1993), p. 32.  Shakespeare’s birth place naturally claims him too and stained glass windows in the Swan Wing of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon portray particular actors dressed for their favourite Shakespearean roles, while another series of windows depicts the “Seven Ages of Man’ – see

[vii]  For a photograph of the 1897 window, see Brian Walsh, “Shakespeare in Stained Glass: The Shakespeare Memorials of Southwark Cathedral and ‘Local’ Bardolatry”, Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation 7.1 (2012): This essay focuses mainly on the appropriation of Shakespeare by the Cathedral in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

[viii]  Walsh, “Shakespeare in Stained Glass”, p. 22.

[ix]  London, Stained Glass in Southwark Cathedral, identifies the characters more fully than Walsh.

[x]  Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1935), in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), p. 220. Also at;

[xi]  Janet Hogan, Historic Homes of Brisbane (Brisbane: National Trust of Queensland, 1979), p.79.

Acknowledgements. Thanks to Somerville House, especially the school’s archivist Kate Bottger, for help with the Cumbooquepa windows. Photographs by the late Douglass Baglin are gratefully acknowledged. Christopher Parkinson has generously provided his photographs of the Shakespeare window at Southwark Cathedral.

Beverley Sherry is an Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney

Glass “Bridge of Courageous Hearts”



Designer of the world’s longest glass bridge, Israeli architect, Haim  Dotan, named his remarkable feat of engineered glass and steel – the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China – the Bridge of Courageous Hearts.   It is not hard to see why!


Figure 1: A bird’s eye view of the Bridge of Courageous Hearts, Zhangjiajie national Forest Park, Hunan Province, China

At first glance it appears to be a fairly standard suspension bridge, although it is almost 300 metres above the canyon and 430 metres long.  It is only when you realise that the entire floor is made from sheets of glass that it becomes something way out of the ordinary.   it is worth looking at this short video on The Guardian website.

It was designed to carry 800 people at any one time and 8000 per day, but huge numbers of visitors – reportedly  closer to 80,000 per day – have closed the bridge only 13 days after its  opening on 20 August 2016.

It seems that China has a passion for such terrifying glass-bottomed staircases.  Elsewhere in the same Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is the Coiling Dragon skywalk.  It  overlooks Tongtian Avenue, a road that snakes up the mountain through 99 hairpin bends.


Figure 2: Yuntai Mountain skywalk in Henan province, China.


Figure 3: Popular Yuntai Mountain skywalk in Henan province, China.  Photograph: China Photo Press

The Yuntai Mountain Geological Park skyway is 1000 metres high and snakes around the face of the mountain, but in September 2015 when a visitor dropped a stainless steel cup a panel of glass broke (like a windscreen) with a loud bang  that sent people running.  As the walkway has several layers of 2.7 cm thick glass, no-one was in any danger and everyone was evacuated without incident, but the popular attraction was immediately closed for repairs.

For those who love adventure at great heights and gut-churning thrills without the real dangers that come with abseiling or mountain-climbing, this could be the best use of glass on the the planet.   Just not for this scaredy-cat.



Klaus Zimmer at Parramatta Cathedral


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Parramatta St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral west window Klaus Zimmer

In March 2012, on the good advice of Sydney glass artist, Jeff Hamilton, I took the opportunity to visit St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral at Parramatta  to see the last significant commission of Klaus Zimmer (1928-2007) – a superb example of contemporary architectural glass.

Parramatta St Patricks Catholic Cathedral (3)

When fire destroyed a large portion of St. Patrick’s in 1996, the community of Parramatta vowed to rebuild.  Romaldo Giurgola (1920-2016), best known in Australia for MGT Architects new Parliament House in Canberra, designed a light, ethereal sandstone building that has the atmosphere and ambience required of a spiritual centre for the twenty-first century.[1]  He incorporated the remnants of the old building, a Gothic Revival shell, as a re-ordered Chapel that leads one into the nave of the new Cathedral.  The completed building was dedicated on 29 November 2003.

Romaldo Giurgola and Klaus Zimmer had collaborated previously when Zimmer produced windows for the stairwell and private dining room at Parliament House in 1986.  The same energy and rapport is evident in the seventy-eight windows that Zimmer designed for the new Cathedral.  Each design is an individual work of art, but also clearly part of a carefully orchestrated suite that has a strong dynamic presence totally in harmony with the surrounding architecture.  These are not traditional ‘stained glass’ windows as lead has not been used and, as a result, the abstract shapes and patterns appear to float in the window openings, reflecting the lightness of the building itself.

Not in good health, Zimmer, who had previously undertaken much of his work independently or with a small team, worked in partnership with Derix Glasstudio, Taunusstein, Germany to produce his magnum opus.[2]  The last window to seen as one leaves by the old ‘west’ door, is the Eternity Window, a joyous finale to the completed cycle.

Parramatta St Patricks Catholic Cathedral (5) cropped

If you live in Sydney, or have an opportunity to visit, it is well worth the ferry ride to Parramatta to see a contemporary religious building that responds to the needs of those who worship there now and future generations will appreciate its glory well into the future.

Parramatta St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral west window Klaus Zimmer

[1] The firm GMB Architects evolved from the former MGT Architects. See

[2] See

See also, Romaldo Giurgola, Luminous Simplicity: the architecture and art of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, Macmillan Art Publishing, South Yarra, 2006.

The English designer who almost set up a studio in Sydney


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by Karla Whitmore

Alexander Gascoyne ran an ‘Ecclesiastical artist’s business’ established by his father George Frederick in Nottingham, England. Born in 1877 he became well known as a designer of stained glass and has numerous windows in English churches.  He was a member of the British Society of Master Glass Painters and exhibited at the Royal Academy.

Gascoyne Catholic Press advert 1925

Figure 1: Advertisement placed in Catholic Press, 30 July 1925, p. 32. Later the same year, the advertisement offered personal appointments with Gascoyne.

In 1925, Gascoyne visited Australia, the visit being announced by advertisements in the press two months before his arrival. The advertisement was placed by James Moroney, a New Zealand-born Sydney based designer of art nouveau leadlight windows. The Caroline Simpson Library at Sydney Living Museums has a number of his designs.  Gascoyne designed both ecclesiastical and art nouveau windows and examples can be seen online.1

A few years after federation imported stained glass windows for churches and public buildings were to be free of duty as works of art whereas glass, such as from Belgium, was subject to duty. After hearing from the industry and debating the subject the government in 1908 imposed a tariff of 20% on imported stained glass. According to a report on the glass industry in Britain at this time English stained glass was facing price competition from Europe and America in exporting to overseas clients. These conditions provided an opportunity as Gascoyne reportedly planned on setting up a studio in Sydney, probably bringing out skilled craftsmen and employing local assistants.2   He was reported as having visited Sydney in 1926, the year before his early death.  It is interesting to think of the ecclesiastical and elegant art nouveau windows that would have been created had been able to set up a studio in Sydney.


Randwick Our Lady of Sacred Heart Gascoyne Hardman KW

Figure 2: Alexander Gascoyne (designer)/ John Hardman & Company, Birmingham (maker), Scenes from the Life of the Blessed Virgin, 1925-28, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Catholic Church, Randwick, NSW.  Photograph: Karla Whitmore

One of his designs can be seen in a church at Randwick where James Moroney’s studio was located.  Gascoyne reportedly designed the altar window while in Sydney and Moroney probably installed it. The 5-light east window is based on Gascoyne’s design and made by the Birmingham based studio with an international clientele, John Hardman & Co.3  The window cost over £2000. In an unusual commissioning process Gascoyne’s design was bought and made by Hardman for less than the price quoted by Gascoyne.  John T. Hardman who ran the firm at the time was a friend of Gascoyne.

The window has a trefoil cusped central light, four cusped lights and sextfoil and quatrefoil tracery. Our Lady holds the infant Jesus in the central light with saints and angels arranged in a semi-circle around her in the adjacent lights and biblical scenes including the Nativity and Crucifixion. Other figures are in horizontal bands beneath architectural canopies in Gothic Revival style. The window is notable for its rich colouring of ultramarine, scarlet and gold. The Catholic Press at the time enthusiastically described the window as ‘a credit to the British glassmakers of to-day, and compares favourably with the ancient art of colouring’4. The richly detailed appearance accords with the original design intent which was for the window to be instructional as well as beautiful.

Randwick Our Lady of Sacred Heart detail Hardman KW

Figure 3: Alexander Gascoyne (designer)/ John Hardman & Company, Birmingham (maker), detail from Scenes from the Life of the Blessed Virgin, 1925-28, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Catholic Church, Randwick, NSW.  Photograph: Karla Whitmore

1 A Gascoyne art nouveau design is on .

2 ‘Stained Glass Production in Australia’, The Argus (Melbourne), 4 September 1925, p. 16.

3 ‘Glassmakers’Art, Fine Work by British Firm’, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 June 1928, p. 7.

4 ‘Magnificent Stained Glass Window’, Catholic Press, 21 June 1928, p. 27.

Remembering Fromelles



Precisely one hundred years ago – 19 and 20 July 1916 – the Australian Imperial Force was thrown into its first major battle in France; it has become known at the Battle of Fromelles.

After the evacuation of Australians from Gallipoli, the troops returned to Egypt where a number of battalions were divided up to form the nucleus of a 5th Division of the Australian Army, augmented with newly arrived reinforcements.  Proceeding to France from March to June 1916, Australian units disembarked at Marseilles then wound their way north by troop train and route march to a ‘nursery’ sector in northern France.  Here the old-stagers and new men were in training to fight a different war from the static trench stalemate that had been the experience of Gallipoli veterans.

But the so-called ‘quiet’ sector did not remain that way for long and the Australian 5th Division (who had only disembarked in June) and 61st British Division were ordered to attack the strong German position known as the Sugarloaf salient, with the intention of diverting German troops away from the Somme offensive further to the south.  But any hope of surprise was soon lost as the attack followed a (largely ineffective) seven-hour bombardment of German trenches that merely served to alert the enemy to what might be coming and gave time for counter measures to be put in place.

It was a disaster for the Allies. The British and Australian troops attacked at 6 pm on 19 July.  Fierce fighting resulted in some small territorial gains but these were swiftly reversed by heavy German machine gun fire and a lack of allied flanking support.  By 8 am on 20 July the battle was over.  Australian casualties (killed and wounded) numbered a staggering 5533, while the British recorded 1547.

Geoffrey Gordon McCrae

Figure 1: William Wheildon/George Dancey/Brooks, Robinson & Co., St. George, south nave, Christ Church Anglican, Hawthorn (Vic.) Photographer: Ray Brown

One among the many killed in action was 26-year-old Major Geoffrey Gordon McCrae of 60 Battalion.[1]  McCrae was popular, intelligent and considered one of the promising young military leaders by his Brigadier, Pompey Elliott, who had known him since 1911 when they had both served in the militia.[2]

McCrae was born on 1 January 1890, son of George Gordon and Augusta Helen (Gussie) McCrae, of “Anchorsfield” Calvin Street, Hawthorn, a suburb of Melbourne.  After Britain announced it was at war, McCrae enlisted on 14 August 1914, leaving the architectural firm, Klingerer and Alsop where he was articled.  His military experience was relatively extensive as he had been part of the reserve forces since September 1909 and by 1914 he was a Captain in 58 Infantry Battalion.

On enlistment his skills were immediately noted and only days later he was appointed Captain in 7 Battalion; the following year he was promoted to Major and the battalion’s second-in-command.  He was wounded in action on the Gallipoli Peninsula, which caused his evacuation to Lemnos, before returning in June only to be slightly wounded again in mid-July.  This time he was evacuated to Alexandria, suffering from shell shock.  Once again he re-joined his battalion on Gallipoli and assumed second-in-command on 30 August 1915.

Posted to 60 Battalion after hospitalisation with enteric fever, he proceeded to France on 29 June 1916 and was commanding the battalion when he was killed in action.  The following day, the Rev. F.P. Williams officiated at his burial in Rue du Bois Military Cemetery, 4 1/2 miles south west of Armentieres.   Many months later his parents received word that Geoffrey Gordon McCrae was mentioned in the despatch of General Sir Douglas Haig for distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty on more than one occasion.

Generations of the McCrae family worshipped at Anglican Christ Church in Hawthorn , where memorial services were held on 6 August 1916 for Geoffrey McCrae and two other local men: notices of all deaths were received in the same week.   The vicar, the Reverend H. Taylor described them as ‘martyrs for the cause in which they fought – that of freedom, right, and duty, and worthy followers of England’s greatest heroes now at rest with God.’[3]   Major Geoffrey McCrae, Captain Edward Mair and Capt. Harry Ground were friends; all died at Fromelles in July 1916.[4]

In the following months McCrae’s inconsolable father commissioned a memorial window as a tribute to his son from the Melbourne firm, Brooks, Robinson & Co.  He selected St. George, patron saint of England, as its subject in the belief that this exemplar of chivalry and courage would appropriately represent his beloved youngest son, adding a crest at the base with the McCrae motto ‘Fortitudine’ (‘With Fortitude’).[5]  The window was unveiled by family friend Brigadier-General Burston after evensong on Lady Day, 25 March 1917.[6

Geoffrey Gordon McCrae

This is just one story of many that might be told of the men who died in that wasteful and little-known battle.  It is only in recent years that ‘Fromelles’ has become known at all, let alone synonymous with one of the worst days for Australian casualties.  In some cases, nearby towns were said to be the place of death.  When the Archbishop of Melbourne unveiled the memorial tablet beneath the McCrae window in December 1917, Armentieres was regarded as the place Geoffrey McCrae lost his life.[7]

At the Australian memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, (the site of a different battle that ended in victory) names of 11 000 men lost with no known grave are listed on the huge expanse of wall at either side of the towering centrepiece.  Above them, at the top of the wall, the names of the battles in which they fought are all carved in stone – all bar one – the Battle of Fromelles.[8]



[1] 60 Battalion casualties numbered 757 – effectively incapacitating the whole battalion which did not reach effective strength again until the following year.

[2] For Geoffrey McCrae’s family life and military career see Ross McMullin, Farewell, dear people: biographies of Australia’s lost generation, Scribe Publications Pty. Ltd., Melbourne, 2012.

[3] Church of England Messenger, 11 August 1916, p. 371.

[4] Edward Mair, 58 Battalion, was 36 years old, married to Susan and with two young sons.  He was killed in action only days before the Fromelles battle; Harry Ground, single, aged 30, was wounded on 19 July and died three days later.

[5] The crest does not conform to the McCrae family (a hand in sword or an oak tree).  It may derive from Geoffrey’s mother’s family Brown, of which one branch has a rampart lion as part of its crest.

[6] Church of England Messenger, 6 April 1917, p. 184.

[7] Church of England Messenger, 28 December 1917, p. 682.

[8] I am indebted to John Arnold for bringing this to my attention.

Shakespeare in Stained Glass


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by Beverley Sherry

Shakespeare (1564-1616) has been much in the news this year, the four hundredth anniversary of his death. Anniversaries of his birth, however, are more cause for celebration. In Australia, the three hundredth anniversary of his birth in 1864 was such an occasion, and it was a time when local stained glass firms were beginning to be established, designing glass not only for churches but also for public buildings and houses.[1]

Shakespeare in public and institutional buildings

In 1862, looking forward to the tercentenary of Shakespeare’s birth in 1864, Australia’s earliest stained glass firm, Ferguson & Urie of Melbourne, designed a unique Shakespeare window, a full-length portrait showing Shakespeare with pen in hand and holding a page inscribed “All the World’s a Stage” (from Jacques’ speech on “The Seven Ages of Man” from As You Like It).

1 Shakespeare. Photo Geoffrey Wallace

Figure 1 Shakespeare, State Library of Victoria, originally in Apollo Music Hall, Melbourne. By Ferguson & Urie, 1862. Photo: Geoffrey Wallace

Appropriately, the window was commissioned by the theatrical entrepreneur George Coppin (1819-1906) and installed in the Apollo Music Hall of his newly built Haymarket Theatre in Bourke Street, Melbourne. Shakespeare dominated the centre light, more than three metres high, and was flanked by side lights portraying Hamlet, Falstaff, Lady Macbeth, and Beatrice. Ferguson & Urie took the figure of Shakespeare from a marble sculpture made by the French artist Louis-François Roubiliac in 1758. The sculpture had been commissioned by the great Shakespearean actor David Garrick (1717-1779) and installed in his Palladian “Temple to Shakespeare” near his villa on the Thames at Hampton.[2]

2 Shakespeare at the British Library

Figure 2  Shakespeare, British Library, originally in Garrick’s “Temple to Shakespeare” on the Thames at Hampton. By Louis-François Roubiliac, 1758.  Photo: Jennifer Howes

The stance of Shakespeare and even the details of buttons left undone have been copied by Ferguson & Urie from Roubiliac’s sculpture, but the page with “All the World’s a Stage” has been added. Most striking, though, is the radical difference in medium: Roubiliac’s cool marble, right for Garrick’s Palladian temple, is in stark contrast to the hectic colours of Ferguson & Urie’s stained glass version. Their Shakespeare is showy, flamboyant, and just right for a theatrical setting.

The window remained in the Apollo Music Hall until about 1870, when it was removed to Coppin’s residences and suffered varying fortunes during which the side lights were lost. Miss Lucy Coppin at least had the foresight to bequeath the Shakespeare portrait to the State Library of Victoria. In 2005 it was restored by Geoffrey Wallace and installed at the top of the La Trobe Reading Room.[3]

A few years before the Shakespeare of Coppin’s theatre, another portrait of Shakespeare had appeared in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney as part of the grand program of windows designed by Clayton & Bell of London and installed in 1859.

3 Shakespeare Great Hall University of Sydney. Clayton & Bell, 1857. Photo Jasmine Allen

Figure 3 Shakespeare, flanked by other dramatists Beaumont & Fletcher and Ford & Massinger, Great Hall University of Sydney. By Clayton & Bell, 1859. Photo: Jasmine Allen

In all kinds of educational buildings – universities, schools, libraries – Shakespeare was a favourite.  In 1880 Ferguson & Urie portrayed Shakespeare again in the large window they designed for the Great Hall of the Brisbane Grammar School. The twentieth century saw the State Library of New South Wales recognising Shakespeare through the Shakespeare Place sculptural group (1926) and the Shakespeare windows (c.1940) in the Shakespeare Room. This is a small gem of a room that houses the Tercentenary Shakespeare Library and is replete with linen-fold panelling and an elaborate Tudor ceiling.  Directly in view as one enters the room are the stained glass windows designed by the Sydney artist Arthur Benfield (1912-1988) portraying “The Seven Ages of Man”.

4 Shakespeare windows State Library of NSW. Infant; School Boy. Photo Douglass Baglin.

Figure 4  The Infant and the Schoolboy from Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man. Shakespeare Room, State Library of NSW. By Arthur Benfield, c.1940. Photo: Douglass Baglin

5 The Soldier, Shakespeare Room State Library of NSW. Photo Douglass Baglin

Figure 5  The Soldier from Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man. Shakespeare Room, State Library of NSW. By Arthur Benfield, c.1940. Photo: Douglass Baglin

Shakespeare in residential buildings

When we turn to residential buildings, various themes from the arts were lavishly depicted in stained glass in the nineteenth and early twentieth century as a way of expressing social and cultural values and aspirations, and the Bard of Avon was a favourite.

The most impressive example was surely at Norwood (1891), a mansion built in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton for the Jewish financier Mark Moss, one of the wealthiest of Melbourne’s merchant princes of the nineteenth-century boom years. It was a massive seven-light window designed by the Melbourne artist William Montgomery (1850-1927) and placed in the baronial entrance hall of Norwood.  Intended to pull up the visitor in his tracks, it was composed of 35 panels, portraying characters from Shakespeare, a view of Stratford-upon-Avon, a portrait of Shakespeare, and seven figures  representing Jacques’ ‘Seven Ages of Man’.  The artist Montgomery was an enthusiastic advocate and spokesman for the use of stained glass in residences and his Shakespeare window at Norwood must have been, in terms of magnitude at least, his pièce de résistance. Lamentably, Norwood was demolished in the 1950s and the windows lost and or dispersed, but Roland Johnson, who lived in the house, has written a history on Norwood that leaves us in no doubt as to the effect of the stained glass.  He writes “These windows dominate the hall: in fact they dominate the house itself, almost as if the house was built around them’, and he remembers best of all ‘Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” stretching across the seven columns of windows, in the middle row’.[4]

6 Shakespeare window Norwood. Brighton Vic. 1891-1

Figure 6 Norwood interior with the Shakespeare window by William Montgomery, 1891. Reproduced from Roland Johnson, Norwood, p. 3

Norwood was lost, but fortunately Shakespearean figures designed by Montgomery survive around the front door of Cullymont (c.1890) in the Melbourne suburb of Canterbury, and stunning Shakespeare windows, attributed to Montgomery, grace the entrance of Cumbooquepa, now Somerville House School in Brisbane. Cumbooquepa was built as a residence in 1889 for William Stephens, son of Thomas Blacket Stephens, an early pioneer of Brisbane, and the entrance was designed to impress. The foyer is paved in black and white marble, and set in four alcoves around the foyer are windows portraying full-length figures of Shakespearean heroines – Rosalind, Beatrice, Viola, and Portia – with their names and appropriate quotations beneath each figure together with Thomas Blacket Stephens’ monogram TBS.

7 Cumbooquepa Brisbane. Viola. Photo Douglass Baglin-1

Figure 7 Viola, Cumbooquepa, now Somerville House School, Brisbane. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890. Photo: Douglass Baglin

In residences, the mere presence of Shakespeare was fashionable, socially impressive, and evocative of old England and the romantic past, themes beloved of William Montgomery. The Queenslander was even running a column in the 1890s entitled “In Shakespeare’s Day”. Shakespearean themes were depicted not only in stained glass but on tiles around fireplaces and on ceilings. The Sydney firm of Lyon, Cottier & Co. had a standard portrait of Shakespeare which they executed in stained glass for St Andrew’s College, University of Sydney in 1876 and for the library of Booloominbah (1888) in Armidale (NSW), and also as part of a painted ceiling in the library of Glenleigh (c.1882) on the Nepean River (NSW).[5]

8 Shakespeare 1 St Andrew's

Figure 8 Shakespeare, St Andrew’s College, University of Sydney. By Lyon, Cottier & Co., 1876. Photo: Douglass Baglin

9 Shakespeare, Glenleigh, Nepean River. Lyon & Cottier, 1880s.

Figure 9 Shakespeare, Glenleigh, Regentville (NSW). By Lyon, Cottier & Co., c.1882. Photo: Beverley Sherry

Shakespeare has been celebrated throughout the world in stained glass and notable examples are in Harvard’s Memorial Hall; the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC (the Seven Ages of Man); the King Edward VI Grammar School at Chelmsford, Essex; the Carnegie Centre in Vancouver; Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon (the Seven Ages of Man); and Southwark Cathedral (21 Shakespearean characters plus the Seven Ages of Man).

 10 Shakespeare window Carnegie Centre Vancouver. N.T.Lyon, Toronto, 1905. Photo by Dan Feeney

Figure 10 Milton, Shakespeare, Spenser: central panels of staircase window Carnegie Centre, Vancouver. By Nathaniel Lyon, 1905. Photo: Dan Feeney


[1] See Beverley Sherry, Australia’s Historic Stained Glass (Sydney: Murray Child, 1991).

[2] In 1779 Garrick bequeathed the sculpture to the British Museum, and it now stands in the Main Hall of the British Library, St Pancras, London. His Temple to Shakespeare has recently been restored and a replica of the sculpture installed. See “Garrick’s Villa and Temple to Shakespeare”, Richmond Libraries Local Studies Collection: and Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare Newsletter Issue 1 (Spring 2008):

[3] Mimi Colligan, “’That Window has a History’: the Shakespeare Window at the State Library”, La Trobe Journal 78 (Spring 2006): 94+ and Geoffrey Wallace, “Conservation of the Shakespeare Window,” La Trobe Journal 78 (Spring 2006): 104+.  See also Ray Brown’s valuable research on the window:

[4] Roland Johnson, Norwood: It changed the face of Melbourne (Portarlington [Vic]: The Publishing Company, 2013). See also Bronwyn Hughes’s PhD thesis, “Designing Stained Glass for Australia 1887-1927: The Art and Professional Life of William Montgomery” (PhD thesis, University of Melbourne, 2007), see volume I, pp. 158-59 on the Shakespeare window and the ball room windows at Norwood.

[5] For stained glass expressing family, social, and cultural values, see Sherry, Australia’s Historic Stained Glass Chapter 3 (“Houses”) and Chapter 4 (“Public Buildings”). Since the publication of my book, I have discovered many more examples, including the work of Lyon & Cottier at Glenleigh. See also my essay “Stained Glass” (2011) in the online Dictionary of Sydney:

The assistance of Ray Brown     Patrick Burns, Founding Director and Chief Photographer, Institute for Stained Glass in Canada and Roland Johnson, one of the last family to reside at Norwood is gratefully acknowledged.


Dr Beverley Sherry is a Contributor to the Glaas in Research site and a valued member of the Glaas Advisory Group.  Her career includes appointments at the University of Queensland, where she was a Senior Lecturer in English, the Australian National University, and the University of Sydney, where she is now an Honorary Associate.  Her main field is English literature, particularly the works of John Milton, and she is an internationally recognized Milton scholar.  However, her work has always been cross-disciplinary, especially in literature and the visual arts, and she considers her book Australia’s Historic Stained Glass (1991) her most pioneering work. It documents stained glass in churches, houses, and public buildings, drawing examples from every state and both rural and urban areas. The book has never been superseded and is now recognised as the authoritative work on the subject.


Harry Clarke’s War


IMG_0224Last year I received this tiny brooch (measuring approximately 2 x 1 cm), a gift from someone who knew how much I would treasure it, as it has all the hallmarks of the Harry Clarke Studios, Dublin. On close inspection one can see the image of a soldier, set in a purple/pink radiance, with circular crests at the base.

The brooch image is only a part of a much larger window, the Kevin Barry memorial Window, relocated at University College, Dublin (UCD), Belfield campus in 2011 from its original site at Earlsfort Terrace.  See the full window at

The window commemorates the life of Kevin Gerard Barry (1902-1920), a first-year medical student at UCD in 1919 and a member of the Irish Volunteers (IRA) since the age of 15.  Barry was arrested for his role in the ambush of a British Army vehicle during which three soldiers were shot, one fatally; the other two died of wounds later.  Barry was charged with murder, refusing to name the other men of his ambush party, and was executed by hanging in 1920; he was 18 years old.  This hanging, the first since those following the 1916 Easter Uprising, heralded an escalation of the War of Independence .

Richard King for the Harry Clarke Studios (Clarke himself died in Switzerland in 1931) designed the window.  Although mooted in the 1920s it was finally unveiled in 1934 by Eamonn de Valera, President of Ireland, a leader in the 1916 Easter Uprising and President of Sinn Fein 1917 to 1926.

The tiny ‘Barry brooches’ are presented as gifts by the Schools of Health Sciences on UCD Belfield campus, a potent reminder of their famous former student.

Harry Clarkes War coverFor Ireland, the First World War and Irish Uprising of 1916 are inextricably linked, although it is unlikely Kevin Barry will be mentioned in Marguerite Helmers,  Harry Clarke’s War: Illustrations for Ireland’s Memorial Records, 1914-1918, Irish Academic Ress Ltd., Kildare, 2015.

Ireland’s Memorial Records 1914-1918 lists the names of 49,435 enlisted men who were killed in the First World War.  The original edition, commissioned in 1919 was ‘notable for stunning and elaborate page decorations’, the work of Harry Clarke.  We certainly don’t think of Clarke as a ‘war artist’ at all, but Marguerite Helmer has produced a book ‘with Harry Clarke’s illustrations taking center stage in the story’ allowing an evaluation of ‘how art and commemoration can come together in a powerful visual creation’.

The same can be said for the Kevin Barry Memorial window at University College Dublin.

With thanks to Susan Kellett, PhD candidate, University of Queensland.

The Irish Rising: ‘A terrible beauty is born’ is a free exhibition at The State Library of Victoria 17 March 2016-31 July 2016.

Harry Clarke’s War is available from on-line book sources.




An Anzac Tribute



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Some time ago I was invited to look at a pair of memorial windows dedicated to two brothers who died in the First World War. They are located in a private home in Melbourne although they were probably installed originally in a church.  The current custodian, an artist and collector, has no knowledge of their past history.

The images are details of the full windows.

Although the designer/maker, and the windows’ journey to its present location remain mysteries, quite a lot can be gleaned from the subjects and inscriptions.

The subjects are St. Mary and St. John, which may hold the clue to the original setting. Most commonly these two saints are depicted on either side of the image of the crucified Christ.  This suggests that the two windows may originally have been the flanking lights for a central Crucifixion light.  In the present setting the two figures face each other, but they are looking up, indicating that the central light was likely to have been taller.

The inscriptions read:
‘Erected by his sister to the Honour and Glory of God and in loving memory of Wilfrid Foxton King-Kemp killed in battle in France, May 29th 1917’ and the other ‘… and in loving memory of Philip Sydney King-Kemp killed in battle in France Oct 19th 1917’.

Fitzroy Gidley King Kemp windows (4)Fitzroy Gidley King Kemp windows (3)Gunner Wilfred Foxton King-Kemp was a 27 year-old solicitor when he enlisted in 1916, aged 27. By May 1916 he was en route for England with 10th Australian Field Artillery Brigade, disembarking at Plymouth two months later. He transferred to the 23rd F.A.B. and proceeded to France in December 1916. His unit was in Belgium when Wilfrid received multiple gun shot wounds to his legs and arms on 10 April 1917. He was evacuated to hospital in Rouen, where he died on 29 May. He was buried at St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.  Added to his family’s distress was information that he was ‘improving’ one day, only to be visited the following day by the local clergyman with the news that he had died.

His brother, Driver Philip Gidley King-Kemp also died of wounds only months later. He was a 25 year-old insurance inspector, married to Gertrude Laura, when he enlisted on 10 May 1915. In Egypt by early 1916, he embarked for France, landing at Marseilles on 28 March 1916. He served in several units, and was wounded and gassed in France and Belgium. Serving with the 101st Howitzer Battery, he died from a severe gassing on 18 October 1917. He was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Flanders.

Research, mainly through the wonderful resource of the NLA’s Trove digitised newspapers, shows that there were two other brothers, Warrant Officer G. King-Kemp M.M. and Mr. R.C. King-Kemp of Coraki, a solicitor in 1918, as was their father. There were also five daughters, one of whom donated the windows, but which one is not clear.

Their parents were Richard Edgar Kemp (1849-1927) and Lily Honora, daughter of Archdeacon King, a grandson of the Governor of New South Wales, Philip Gidley King. Richard and Honora were married on 20 May 1877, in St. Luke’s Liverpool, with the bride’s father officiating along with the Headmaster of King’s School, the Rev. G.F. Macarthur.

In 1928, Hilda Sophia King Kemp, youngest of the daughters, was reported to have died on 22 May at 10 Torrington Road, Strathfield. Maybe she was the donor of the windows; research has not yet traced the other sisters. Hilda’s parents pre-deceased her, father Richard in 1927. He was interred at St. Thomas’ Anglican Cemetery, Enfield by the incumbent of St. Paul’s Burwood, assisted by Richard’s brother-in-law, the Rev. C.J. King of Camden. The family’s last home was ‘Gascoigne’, Gordon Street, Burwood.

While it has been possible to trace a part of the civilian and service lives of these two men and their family, the story of the window remains elusive.

The litany of family names and places may give some clue as to where the windows might have been previously located. This Anglican (Church of England) family was very well connected – members of the law fraternity and the clergy pepper family marriages and family names include Macarthur, Macarthur Onslow, Pring, Mullens and Elder as well as Foxton and Gidley King. As successive generations of the family spread throughout country New South Wales and to other eastern States, it is possible that the windows were installed in an Anglican church outside Sydney, but areas around Burwood, Strathfield, Enfield appear to be the most likely sites.

Despite the name of designer/maker remaining unknown, it is likely that the windows were made in the Sydney area. The style has many attributes of F. J. Tarrant & Co., a firm that operated before the First World War until 1946, building windows to designs of freelance artists.

Please add your thoughts, comments and suggestions.  One day it may be possible to tell the whole story of these commemorative windows of the First World War.

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