Photographs by John Salmon, Art Journal images and text downloaded by George P. Landow, and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee. Formatting by Landow and Banerjee. You may use these images 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 the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the images to enlarge them.

The Rising Sun of Righteousness. West Window in the (Former) Church of the Ark of the Covenant, which was designed by the architectural firm of Joseph Morris & Sons for the Agapemonites in Upper Clapton (Stamford Hill), London N16 6SS. The windows were designed by Walter Crane and manufactured by J. S. Sparrow. They were installed in 1896.

The windows in this church (which later became the Ancient Catholic Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd, 1956-2007, and is now the Georgian Orthodox Cathedral Church of the Nativity of Our Lord) have long been seen as its chief glory, and as Crane's most important work in stained glass. They have been summed up as "stunning" in their use of antique slab glass, with "[i]ntense colours" and "with no white glass" as background (Cherry and Pevsner 485), and are discussed in some detail in the church's listing text — where the west window is seen as owing the greatest debt to William Blake. As for Sir John Betjeman, he declared Crane's work here to be "the richest Victorian glass I have ever seen" and maintained that it made Burne-Jones and Rossetti's glass look pale by comparison." One curious comment about the windows is that the scenes containing human figures illustrate "woman's submission to man" (Baker), and it does seem here that the man is dominant and the woman submissive. However, the windows on either side of this one, depicting Sin, Shame, Disease and Death through female forms, are more likely to have given rise to that observation. The Agapemonites certainly exploited their female followers.

Art Journal illustration and commentary

Design of the main figures.

“In the four-light window ... at the West (No. 1), the artist has triumphed over another difficult subject. The idea given to him to embody was 'The Rising Sun of Righteousness.' His first notion was to represent the Chariot of the Sun, four white horses forming a base to the glory of golden rays which, with the lurid cloak of the Sun-god, filled the upper part of the window. This, of course, was too pagan a picture for acceptance. In the second version of the design Sun-god and chariot no longer appear; two sea-horses only remain to suggest the breaking waves of the blue sea stretching across the lower half of the window. Thence rises the Sun, and from its rays issue the forms of Angels with flaming wings bearing a scroll inscribed, 'Then shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings.' To the right and left of the window stand the figures of a man with upstretched hands, saluting, and a woman with hands clasped in contemplation. In the window, as executed, the place of the sea-horses, objected to as too mythological, is supplied by equally mythological dolphins, which, however, are so much in tone with the colour of the sea as to lose themselves in it. This is in effect a strikingly original window, and framed as it is with shadow (it is, as it were, recessed above the entrance porch) its colour tells splendidly ” (The Art Journal, p. 198).

Other Stained Glass by Crane in this church


Baker, T. F. T., ed. "Hackney: Protestant Nonconformity." A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10, Hackney. London, 1995: 130-144. British History Online. Web. 12 October 2016.

Betjeman, John. "City and Suburban." The Spectator Archives. 3 February 1956, p. 12. Web. 12 October 2016.

Cherry, Bridget, and Nikolaus Pevsner. London 4: North. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002.

Day, Lewis F. “The Windows of a New Church.” The Art Journal, N.S. Vol. 58. London: J. S. Virtue, 1896. Internet Archive. Web. 12 February 2012.

Eberhard, Robert."Stained Glass Windows at Gregorian Orthodox Cathedral (ex Good Shepherd)." Church Stained Glass Windows. Web. 12 October 2016.

"The Former Ark of the Covenant." Historic England. Web. 12 October 2016.

Last modified 13 October 2016