When writing about the windows in St Bride's it is necessary immediately to dispel the notion that lack of funds was responsible for the want of an east window. That is incorrect. Bodley's designs for the church did not include an east window but did make provision for a reredos as shown in the sketch by the architect on the cover of the church magazines in the early years of this century.
St Bride's possesses five stained glass windows. On entering the nave by the north west door the first window to be seen is on the west wall facing the north aisle. This is a memorial window, the work of Edward Woore of London, and was installed in 1920. The small panes in the tracery were added in 1929 and are the work of J. Ballantine of Edinburgh. The window was gifted by Mr and Mrs Henry Waller in memory of their daughter Grace Mary Robertson who died in 1918.
The principal subject is The Marriage at Cana (John 2.1). The figure of our Lord occupies the central light; on his right in the left light we see the bride and bridegroom while in the right light the Blessed Mother is shown speaking to one of the servants who is engaged in filling a water pot. The background is filled with architectural work above which there are three cherubs making music, while high above in the tracery are nine panes with angels holding the scrolls with the commemorative inscriptions. Between them is a group of figures showing our Lord in the act of blessing children.
At the east end of the north aisle, high above the sacristy door, is another window by Edward Woore. When viewed in the early morning in summer this is quite spectacular and must be the most beautiful of the windows in the church, but the viewing time is important. The window is a Thank-Offering, gifted in 1919 by Mrs Percy Watson and,. to quote from the inscription, "for the same return from the Great War of her three sons Percy, John and Robert Watson". The theme is Deliverance through Sacrifice. The centre light shows our Lord carrying his cross, the emblem above is the Agnus Dei from which opening rays of light radiate out into the tracery above where in the glass are the emblems of the Passion. The right hand light shows the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea with the Egyptians mounted in pursuit. In the apex are the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire (Exodus 13.21). The left hand light depicts the Sacrifice of Isaac. The figu! re of Abraham is austere and in the head of this light there is a representation of the ram caught in the thicket (Genesis 22.13). The prevailing tones of this window are purple and blue with a good deal of yellow in the upper part. An early morning visit to the church to view this window in all its excellence is necessary, as worshippers at the 7.30 Mass will affirm. P>
St Bride's has a hidden window placed above the altar in the Chantry Chapel and partially obscured by the altar piece which itself is unnoticed and unappreciated. A word about this altar piece: it is a painting by Margaret E. Chilton of The Entombment in a frame of Italian workmanship dating from the seventeenth century and came from the Herefordshire home of the Chesterfield family, Holme Lacy. Margaret Chilton was a former member of St Bride's and was a well-known stained glass artist who worked in conjunction with Marjorie Kemp. Although there is none of her glass work in St Bride's (she was asked to complete the tracery panes in the Edward Woore window), there are examples in St John's Renfield in Beaconsfield Road; in the Good Shepherd, Hillington; St George's, Maryhill; and Cumbrae Cathedral.
The window is by J.C. Bewsey of London and depicts St Kentigern (or Mungo), Patron Saint of the City and Diocese and first Bishop of Glasgow. The window was the gift of the congregation to commemorate the appointment of the Reverend Edward T.S. Reid as Dean of Glasgow and Galloway in 1920. By the time the window was installed, he had been elected and consecrated as Bishop of the United Diocese.
Moving to the Lady Chapel, here we have two memorial windows in the north wall. The one to the eastern end was the first to be installed in St Bride's; it is the gift of Mr Walter M.R. Reid in memory of his parents and has a detailed inscription. It is the work of Karl Parsons of London and its theme, The Nativity, is a fitting one for a chapel dedicated in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The artist himself said that it had been his wish to convey a sense of deep hush and, as one contemplates the window, one experiences a feeling of tranquillity and peace. This window is seen to advantage in the late afternoon. In the two centre lights the Divine Child has just fallen asleep; the Blessed Virgin, with two angels, watches over him in mute adoration. Below are two musicians who have just ceased to play their instruments; they are seated on the Vine which supports the major subject and out of which it grows. In the background grow lilies and two ros! e tr ees, red and white, through which seven doves flutter down symbolising the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Above are two symbols of the Blessed Virgin: The Enclosed Gardenand The city of David. High above in the tracery the Star of the Nativity shines brightly, surrounded by all the host of heaven.In the two outer lights are four scenes from the life of the Blessed Virgin: The Salutation of Elizabeth, The Vision of Joseph, The Presentation in the Temple and The Rest on the Flight to Egypt
In The Salutation the Blessed Virgin kisses Elizabeth in the garden of her house. Joseph stands behind, while in the porch of the house an angel stretches out his hands in welcome. In The Vision of Joseph an angel comes to him as he kneels, the angel holding a globe on which appears a vision of the Annunciation. The Presentation shows Simeon with the Child Jesus in his arms in the Temple with the Virgin Mother looking lovingly at her child who stretches out his arms. Joseph stands by holding the traditional two turtle doves in a wicker cage for the offering. In The Rest on the Flight to Egypt the Blessed Virgin is resting in a flowery meadow beside a stream. Under the shade of a chestnut tree in bloom she feeds the Child; a little angel bends to offer a bowl of fruit.
The other window in the chapel is also a memorial gift and is the last to be installed. It was donated by Miss Janet Watson in memory of her parents Archibald and Anna Watson and is the work of Herbert Hendrie (1887-1946), who was an associate of Karl Parsons, the designer of the Nativity Window. This window was placed in the chapel in 1934. There are examples of Hendrie's work in St Margaret's, Knightswood, in the Titular Cathedral, and in the former Barony Church (now part of the University of Strathclyde).
The subject of this window is The Sorrowful Mysteries. The two central lights depict The Crucifixion, below which the artist has introduced on a smaller scale The Entry into Jerusalem marking the transition from joy to sorrow and depicting two aspects of our Lord's treatment by the Jewish crowd. The outer left light shows at the top The Garden of Gethsemane and below The Scourging. The outer right light shows The Crowning with Thorns and below Via Dolorosa. Beneath are the symbols of the Passion: the scourge and the crown of thorns, while high above the tracery is filled with delicately coloured glass showing the heads of sorrowing angels, the Dove, the sun, moon and stars. The cross in the crucifixion scene is surmounted by the symbol INRI (Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum) while the Roman soldiers looking on carry the emblem of the state
SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus). There is great detail in this window and the viewer will discover more by sitting down and looking at it
The four principal stained glass windows in St Bride's have a special excellence. They could be the subject of a private retreat or of a quiet time of contemplation.
Thank God for the work of the artists, for the generosity of the donors, and pray for those whose memorials they are.
Rev. Canon David McCubbin, Rector of St Bride's 1981-1987