The Whitefriars window in the Lady Chapel consists of four lights and ten tracery lights in the perpendicular style, typical of early medieval buildings. The sandstone construction has a pointed arch with interlinking y-
“In loving memory of Mary Carlaw, Widow of William Roylance Court of Manor House, Middlewich born 20 March 1858 – died 17 December 1933, and mother of William Hubert Roylance Court, Captain 9th Lancers, killed 6 March 1915. This window is erected by her daughters Evelyn and Dorothy”.
Mary Carlaw, widow of William Roylance Court, was the eldest daughter of Sir Andrew Barclay Walker, Mayor of Liverpool and High Sheriff of Lancashire. He gifted the Walker Art Gallery and the Technical College in Liverpool. She was highly respected in Middlewich for her work with the poor, nursing protection of children and founding local organisations.
The Lady Chapel was built to face south east, allowing sunlight to flood in, together with pastel colours and fine sketching, giving an atmosphere of light and gentleness. There are two windows of plain glass on either side of the Whitefriars Window which is so named as a figure of a friar is found in the bottom right pane, the trademark of James Powell and Sons(1).
The window is a tribute to motherhood. In one of the centre lights we see Mary, the mother of Jesus, holding the Christ child, and clothed in her traditional blue robe with a white cloak. As befits the Queen of Heaven, she wears a crown, and over her hover two angels holding a fiery ball. Beside her, to the right, stands her mother, Saint Anne, dressed in green with a white cloak. Above her also hover two angels, holding between them another crown. To her right, and at a slightly lower level, is Saint Elizabeth, cousin of Mary and mother of John the Baptist, she is clothed in gold. The fourth figure to Mary’s left is Saint Margaret(2), the patron of women in labour, she is clothed in old gold.
Both Saint Elizabeth and Saint Margaret bear crowns. Above Saint Elizabeth’s head is the moon and above Saint Margaret’s, the sun. (Both are used as symbols of Mary). Saint Margaret has a cross in one hand and a sceptre in the other, Saint Elizabeth is holding a basket of roses. All four ladies are standing in a flowery field.
In the lower panel, below Mary, is depicted the crucifixion, Christ on the cross, with Mary his mother on one side of him and John,” the beloved disciple”, on the other. It was to John that Jesus bequeathed the care of his mother in his words from the cross “Woman, behold thy son (and to John) behold thy mother.” Again, the colours are pale – blue, gold and rose pink.
One of the saddest pictures of Christendom – the descent from the cross, also known as the Pieta, is in the lower panel below Saint Anne. Mary supports the lifeless body of her son, with cross in the background. The colours are still the same, blue, gold and white.
In the two outer panels are angels bearing blue shields, one with a cross, one with a heart pierced by a sword. This is Mary’s heart, fulfilling the prophesy, “And a sword shall pierce through thine own heart also”.
All four lights are bordered in blue and white showing lilies and carnations. Both are symbols of Mary. The carnation means pure love. Mary shows this in her devotion to God and love for her son, Jesus.
In the tracery are a number of small panels containing the following: a book (presumably the Bible), an angel holding a shield with a basket of flowers, another angel with a shield depicting a well, a Tudor rose, three lilies, an angel with a shield with a tower or castle, a further angel with a shield and a mound or fortified hill, and lastly an ark. All these are symbolic of the litany of Mary.
1. The history of Whitefriars Glass – Andrew Lineham
2. Saint Margaret born 1045, died 16 November 1093. (Margaret of Wessex). English princess of the House of Wessex. Born in exile in the kingdom of Hungary. Daughter of Edward the Exile, granddaughter of Edward Ironside, King of England. Husband – Malcolm III of Scotland, their eldest son, Edward was killed in the Battle of Alnwick.
The annals of Middlewich by C. F. Lawrence.
Saints, signs and Symbols by W. Ellwood Post, ISBN 0281 02894X
James Powell and Sons
The story of the windows at St Michaels & All Angels Church, Middlewich by E. S. Bailey