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The battle to save Woden's window

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

The magnificent Woden window

The magnificent Woden window

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THE battle is on to save the Woden Window in Wednesbury's parish church of St Bartholomew.

It is a fine example of the work of Victorian stained glass designer and manufacturer Charles Eamer Kempe and depicts the destruction of the heathen temple of Woden and its replacement with a Christian church, a window that was paid for by the good people of Wednesbury.

The Woden Window is an integral part of Wednesbury's history, a town with roots going back to before the appearance of Christianity, when Scandinavian settlers worshipped the likes of Woden and Thor.

This Saturday December 7th, a warm welcome is extended to folk from across the region to St Bartholomew's Christmas Fayre. Between noon and 4pm the doors of the church hall, on High Bullen, will be open, offering visitors a wide variety of fayre including framed prints of old Wednesbury from the rare collection of author and local historian Ian Bott; jewellery, books, greeting cards; clothing; fancy soaps; home-baked cakes; bric-a-brac, a chance to stamp your own key ring; tombola; competitions, and hot refreshments.

It was Ian Bott who brought the plight of the Woden Window to our attention and he told us, "There is an urgent need to rescue the crumbling south-west Woden Window, which was made at the London studio of the distinguished stained glass artist Charles Eamer Kempe, and dedicated by Canon Bodington on 19th April 1904, making it one of Kempe's last great works.

"It cost just £180 pounds to make 110 years ago, but at least £8,000 is needed to replace the decaying stone mullions which are threatening to discharge their fragile glass masterpieces."

Kempe was born in Brighton in 1837, and while at college he had considered the priesthood, but a severe stammer limited his ability to preach, so he subsequently went on to study architecture with the firm of a leading ecclesiastical architect, George Frederick Bodley.

In 1866 he opened a studio of his own in London and soon gained recognition as one of the best designers and manufacturers of stained glass. His studios produced over 4,000 windows, many of which take pride of place in English cathedrals including Chester, Gloucester, Hereford, Lichfield, Wells, Winchester and York, and Wednesbury parish church is proud to be among such a prestigious group of ecclesiastical buildings.

Ian Bott added, "It would be terrific to see people from all over the Black Country at the Christmas Fayre on Saturday, perhaps buying some unique gifts for Christmas, but all helping to preserve our priceless local heritage."

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