St Peter's denial of Christ

Left: Whole window. Right: Closer view of middle of the left and centre panels.

South Aisle (2) window of St Peter's Church, Hersham, Surrey, by Clayton & Bell. 1905. Another of the St Peter-themed windows in the church, this three-light one was installed in memory of Godfrey Brooks, who, as it says at the bottom of the window, died on 3 August 1905. There is a family tragedy here. An earlier window in the church (the one showing Jesus with St Peter) is dedicated to the memory of Sidney Brooks: these were two of several brothers, from the Brooks family of Hersham Lodge, Walton-on-Thames, who all attended Harrow. According to the school register, Sidney was there from 1885-88 and died in S. Africa in the Boer War in 1900 (Dauglish and Stephenson 632), and Godfrey, who attended the school from 1883-87, became a tea-planter in Ceylon and died out there on the date stated on the window (Dauglish and Stephenson 612). Windows tell stories in more ways than one.

As for the window itself, Peter's public and repeated denial of Jesus, under pressure, is recorded in all the gospels and considered important because it led to his bitter repentance and provided a signal instance of Christian forgiveness. In the end, it is argued, this episode strengthened both his faith and his standing. Here, as in John 18, he is warming himself by the open fire in the porch of the High Priest's palace, with officers beside him. Jesus has been bound and sent to the High Priest, and Peter in his blue robe and golden, trimmed and decorated cloak is being questioned about his connection with him. Notice the cock raising its head to crow at the top of the central panel: Jesus had prophesied that Peter would deny him three times before the cock crew, and this is exactly what is reported to have happened. The text below the main figures reads: "They said therefore unto him, art thou not also one of his disciples? He denied it and said I am not" (John 18, 25). The scene is a tense one, especially with the armed men looking on. Clayton & Bell were known for their narrative capability, as well as their rich colours.

Photographs and text 2014 by Jacqueline Banerjee. [These images may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one. Click on the images for larger pictures.]

Related Material


Dauglish, M. G. and P. K. Stephenson., eds. The Harrow School Register, 1883-1905. 3rd ed. London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1894. Internet Archive. Uploaded by Robarts Library, University of Toronto. 9 July 2014.

Eberhard, Robert."Stained Glass Windows at St Peter, Hersham, Surrey." Church Stained Glass Windows. Web. 9 July 2014.

Last modified 9 July 2014