Bishop dedicates new stained glass at Billy Mill's church
Click here for an album of pictures of the windows
and the dedication and consecration service
Three new stained glass windows depicting St Aidan in a fishing vessel have been dedicated in a North Tyneside church by the Assistant Bishop of Newcastle.
The Right Reverend Frank White dedicated the windows, designed by North East clergyman the Reverend Christopher Wardale with help from local schoolchildren, in a service on Friday 31st August in St Aidan's Church, Billy Mill (North Shields). The 31st August is the feast day of the Northumbrian saint.
Two of the three rectangular windows have been given by church member Mrs Dorothy Iley in memory of her husband, the late industrialist, businessman and renowned pigeon fancier Dr Ralph Iley CBE, who died in January 2010. The third window has been funded by the congregation and friends of St Aidan’s.
The church commissioned Christopher Wardale's design after inspecting recent windows at Holy Saviour's in Tynemouth and St Mary's, Willington Quay, and some of Mr Wardale’s own work at nearby St Mary's in Holywell. "Six congregation members set out to look at examples of modern stained glass," explains the Reverend Claire Greenwood, Vicar of Billy Mill. "They became experts - learning about how windows are constructed and how much light you want to let in.”
"We got a better understanding of the windows we saw," adds St Aidan’s member Don Slater. "When Chris Wardale came to look at St Aidan’s we got excited by his excitement."
The fishing theme links with North Shields' traditional industry and with Bible stories such as Matthew Chapter 4 verse 18 in which Jesus calls the two fishermen Simon and Andrew to join him and become fishers of people. The windows depict a legendary story of St Aidan that he set out to fish from the coast of Holy Island but had no luck until, exhausted, he prayed and lay down to sleep in his boat, waking later to find his nets full to overflowing with fish. Both stories tap into the long-established Christian symbolism of the ocean full of fish representing the abundance of God's blessings.
The core of the design is the figure of St Aidan in a fishing boat. Close inspection reveals that the boat is named ‘Ralph’ after Dr Iley and bears the North Shields ‘SN’ registration letters.
Following special assemblies exploring the local, historical and Christian significance of fish, every child at New York and Whitehouse Primary Schools was invited to draw a fish, and Chris Wardale with Claire Greenwood selected twelve that would be copied into the window designs bearing the initials of the artist. The left window alone includes 153 fish, some of which bear children’s initials or in other cases a Bible reference.
The windows have been factored to Mr Wardale’s design by renowned North East glass artist Cate Watkinson.
Assistant Bishop of Newcastle the Right Reverend Frank White said, “I’m delighted that the Church of St Aidan has commissioned three windows telling a fresh story about the great Northumbrian pioneer St Aidan, and I was very pleased to celebrate with them on the 31st August.”
“Everything you see in Aidan’s tells a story of giving,” says Don Slater.
Claire Greenwood agrees: “St Aidan’s congregation are discovering they can do amazing things!”
St Aidan’s Church was built in 1955 and extended in the 1970s. The three new windows replace clear glass at the side of the sanctuary area around the altar.
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