Left: Whole window. Right: Closer view of the main figures.

The Nativity, the west window of St Peter's, Hinton Road, Bournemouth. Designed by Clayton and Bell and installed in 1880, this four-light window is in memory of Rosimira Lancaster (see Eberhard).

The tracery lights, with the Virgin Mary at the top.

As an Anglo-Catholic, the Reverend Bennett, who drove forward the building of this church and was a powerful force for Anglo-Catholicism in Bournemouth, was criticised by some for his leaning towards Catholicism. It was fitting, then, that this window should focus on Mary and the birth of Jesus. The four lower scenes are of the Annunciation, Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, the angels bringing glad tidings to the shepherds, and the flight into Egypt. Above these separate scenes is one panoramic one, of the Magi on the left, bringing their offerings to the infant Jesus in the stable, with the family group in the middle (Mary being watched over by an angel, and a lamb lying in front of an ox), and the shepherds on the right. Underneath this larger scene runs the text, "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising" (Isaiah 60,3).

With its natural background of trees, this fine window is also a key one in the church because it shows the beginning of the mortal life of Jesus — the phase that ended with the crucifixion shown in the same firm's east window over the High Altar.

This nativity scene is more conventional than the later one by Percy Bacon Bros. in the south-west transept. Comparing the two suggests the direction in which stained glass was moving under the influence of the Arts and Crafts Movement, towards bringing out the potential of the materials themselves, and capitalising on their interaction — the treatment of the glass, its thickness and texture (Christopher Whall speaks of "the special beauties of texture," 179), the subtleties of shading, the play of the lines across the glass, the creation of a sense of depth. Without detracting from this window, we can still recognise that the later one has a greater dynamism.

Related Material

Photographs by John Salmon, text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit John Salmon and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the images to enlarge them.


Eberhard, Robert. "Stained Glass Windows at St Peter, Bournemouth" (recorded by Brian Woodruffe). Church Stained Glass Windows. Web. 5 May 2020.

Whall, C.W. Stained Glass Work: A Textbook for Students and Workers in Glass. London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd, 1920 [1st ed. 1905]. Internet Archive. Web. 5 May 2020.

Created 4 May 2020