You can listen to our previous Dean of Birmingham discussing the windows on the 'Come and Watch' tab to the left.
The cathedral is home to a remarkable set of stained-glass windows designed by Birmingham born pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones and manufactured by the firm of William Morris & Co.
Burne-Jones was born and raised in Birmingham. He met Morris at Oxford University and they became lifelong collaborators. Burne-Jones began training for the ministry but decided instead to devote his life to art. Previously Burne-Jones and Morris had designed and executed stained glass windows for St Martin’s-in-the-Bull-Ring and St Mary the Virgin in Acocks Green. The windows in the chancel were paid for by Miss Emma Villers-Wilkes, in memory of her brother and she maintained a strong interest in their subject matter and design. Forbidding the inclusion of oxen in the final design!
The Ascension was installed in 1885 and the Nativity and the Crucifixion two years later. Burne-Jones records “it was in the year 1885 that visiting my native city Birmingham I was so struck with admiration at one of my works in St Philips’s church [that] I undertook in a moment of enthusiasm to fill the windows on either side. He was paid £200 for each of his designs. They are considered characteristic of Burne-Jones’ later style – elongated bodies with small heads in relation to body length and designs which divide in two equal halves, horizontally. This technique separates heaven from earth in each of the windows. The Last Judgement was installed as a memorial window to Bishop Bowlby in 1897.
They demonstrate Burne-Jones’ immense skill and the fine craftsmanship of William Morris & Co. They are known for their vibrancy, the life-likeness of the figures, their ability to tell a story and their inspiring and dramatic qualities. The windows are an inspiration for both artists and Christians.
The images below are close ups of the windows, which were taken during the renovation work when the scaffolding afforded us unique access to get close to the windows. The first is a detail from the Judgement window taken by our previous Dean, The Very Rev'd Catherine Ogle, now Dean of Winchester.
Below are two details from the Ascension window taken by Jane McArdle, Heritage Officer.
Below are two details from the Crucifixion window taken by Jane McArdle, Heritage Officer.
Below are two details from the Nativity window taken by Jane McArdle, Heritage Officer.