‘Rose window’ is an architectural term used to describe a circular window; however, it is often applied more specifically to windows found within Gothic style churches which are divided into segments by stonework or tracery.
North Rose Window
Westminster Abbey is home to two spectacular rose windows, one above the north transept and one above the south transept. The north rose window is the older of the two, having been installed in 1722 following alteration of the stone work. Both of these windows have survived the bombing of the Second World War partly because of being boarded over for protection. Although both of these windows feature some extraordinary designs and detailing, it is the south rose window which we have developed used as inspiration for a selection of products.
The south rose window was installed in 1902, and was given to the Abbey as a memorial to Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, the first Duke of Westminster (1825-1899). This window is thought to be the largest of its kind, measuring approximately 32 feet across.
South Rose Window
The detailed design you see today was painted by Messrs Burlison and Grylls and replaced a more garish design which had been installed during the Victorian era. In the centre of the design is the figure of Jesus, who is surrounded by 16 figures symbolising the Virtues and Orders of Angels. Surrounding them is an outer circle of a further 32 figures, chosen to represent the preparation of the world for Christ; alongside prophets, these figures also include learned men such as Plato and Aristotle. Outside of this circular design are four small lights that turn the whole window into a square; painted on these lights are the figures of Adam, St John the Baptist, Gabriel and the Blessed Mary. As the shape of the roof forms an archway in front of the window, it is nearly impossible to see the top corners of it from below unless you are standing directly under the window and looking up. This means that photographs of the window don’t reveal the figures of Adam and St John the Baptist, making this a part of the Abbey that cannot be fully appreciated unless there in person.
We have created several products depicting the centre circle of the Rose Window including a coaster, magnets and stained glass roundels. We have also interpreted the window on a beautiful silk scarf, using a striking blue background colour to accentuate the many other colours. To view more of our stained glass products, please click here.