The Nativity window consists of 4 lights and 10 tracery lights(1).
The main lights are round-headed windows.
The window is read from right to left:-
In the right-hand panel we see Joseph, asleep, worn out after the journey from Bethlehem. His feet are bare, and by them a small white flower grows. An angel leans over his shoulder urgently pointing a finger at Mary and the infant Jesus in the adjacent panel.
In the right centre panel, Mary is wrapped in a cloak of bright turquoise blue, with a red dress peeping underneath. Her feet, too, are bare. The Christ-child is swathed in expensive-looking damask, and the Manger too, has elaborate drapery. At the foot of the manger two doves coo and peck, and Mary’s emblem, the lily, stands there too in a brightly coloured vase.
The next two panels are crowded with figures. First, in the left centre panel we see the shepherds, all dressed in clothes of brown, and pinkish-mauve. The front one is kneeling in awe, his crook in his hand. The second stands with a lamb over his shoulders, also with a crook in his hand, and a water-bottle at his belt. The third is about to kneel, and is doffing his cap.
In the left-hand panel stand the three kings, even more richly dressed, in many colours, but predominantly red and purple, and adorned with jewels. One of the kings is black, as is the tradition. They hold in their hands the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Above the heads of the figures in the two centre panels are the angelic host – six of them, two holding musical instruments, and below them the words from the scriptures:- “Glory to God in the highest on earth peace, goodwill to all men”. The panels above the angels are filled with elaborate and colourful patterns and flowers.
There are also 4 lower panels, below the main sections, each with a solitary figure to represent the following words (again read from right to left):-
(a) “Blessed art thou amongst women” (elderly man)
(b) “My soul doth magnify the Lord” (older lady)
(c) “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord” (maiden)
(d) “Hail, thou that art highly favoured” (angel)
Beneath the window is a brass plate with a coat of arms (lion rampant) proclaiming:-
“In memoriam Gulielmi Court qui obit ipsis Kal Jannarius AD. MDCCCLVI AEtat 70”
(In memory of William Court who died in January 1856 aged 70).
William Court was a salt proprietor who lived in Manor Hall, Middlewich. In 1824, together with William Ainsworth Jurup ‘patented an improved method of making salt’(2).
(1) ‘lights’ are the main panels, ‘tracery lights’ are the small windows above the main panels.
(2) Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History (Mechanics Magazine 1824/07/31).
(3) Window descriptions from ‘The Story of the Windows at St Michaels and All Angels Church Middlewich’ by E.S.Bailey