"The Creation": West Window in Southwark Cathedral, London, designed by Henry Holiday (1839-1927). Installed 1903. Left: Whole window, teeming with energetic life of all kinds that burst forth with the creation. Right: Over all, with feathery-winged cherubim above him, Jesus in the tallest lancet holds the whole round world in his hands. Green enveloped with blue, this is the stage upon which all subsequent events are set. The text immediately around Jesus reads, "Let the Heav/ens rejo/ice and the Earth be glad" (Psalm 96, 11), and the text just below reads, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," the familiar opening verse of the Bible, in Genesis.

Here, beneath Jesus's feet, and encircled above and below, are the six days of creation. Between each row of three are exuberant figures, mostly of angels. The text is hard to read here, but between the third day of creation and the creation of Adam and Eve below it, one of the figures already seems to be reaching for the fateful apple.

According to the cathedral's own website: "Along the bottom are biblical characters famous for singing; in the centre are Shadrach, Meshek and Abednego in the fiery furnace [surrounded by red flames] and in the side lights are David, Deborah [lower left], Miriam and Moses [lower right]." The same source tells us that this window was presented by H. T. Withers, in memory of his parents and brother.

It is a richly coloured and detailed composition, vibrant as befits its theme. But since the three lancets are so high up in the west end of the nave, they are difficult to see, especially as there are wooden figures from the old organ case on the sill below them. All in all, it is a dramatic ensemble (including the wooden figures, which come from the old organ case) — just rather hard to appreciate fully.

Photographs by Colin Price and text by Jacqueline 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 or credit it in a print document. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Related Material


Eberhard, Robert. "Stained Glass Windows at Cathedral, Southwark, Inner London." Church Stained Glass Windows. Web. 22 August 2018.

"Stained-Glass." Southwark Cathedral. Web. 22 Augiust 2018.

Created 22 August 2018