Left: Whole window. Right: One of the upper panels, showing singers and minstrels.

The D'Oyly Carte Memorial Window, Savoy Chapel, London, in memory of Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844-1901) who produced the Gilbert and Sullivan operas and used the proceeds to construct the Savoy Theatre (1881) nearby, where they were presented, and also the Savoy Hotel, completed in 1889. The window was designed by Edward Jenkin Prest (1857-1934), paid for by D'Oyly Carte's friends, and unveiled by Sir Henry Irving, on 3 April 1902. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Left: Closer view of St Cecilia, on the left below. Right: The lower part, showing Cecilia, King David and Miriam.

The window is appropriately full of reference to music, in image and text. The images of singers and minstrels at the top illustrate words in Psalm 68: "The singers go before, the minstrels come after" (v.25) and the text below them comes from Milton's "At a Solemn Musick" and reads: "0 may we soon again renew that song / And keep in tune with heaven till God ere long / To His celestial concert us unite / To live with Him, and sing in endless morn of light." The main figures in the lower part are all associated with music: St Cecilia on the left, the patron saint of music, holds a small organ; King David in the middle sings to his lyre; and Miriam, who once watched over her baby brother, and became an important figure (a prophet and a leader, as well as musically) in her own right, also sings to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument. Along the lower edge are three small musician cherubs. The one at King David's feet is shown on the right below.

The window is not as Prest had intended. The chapel's information file explains that its surviving glass had to be radically rearranged after bomb damage in 1940. The upper and lower parts were transposed, which is why the figures at the bottom "look considerably larger than the figures above. In their original locations all the figures would have appeared to be of equal size to be observer." This gives an interesting insight into the design techniques required for such windows. It was at this time that the name of Richard's son Rupert (1870-1948) was added below Miriam; Rupert's daughter's name was also added, above King David, after her death in 1985.

Photographs and text 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 the Victorian Web in a print one.

Related Material


File about the stained glass, available in the chapel.

Created 1 May 2017