The Church Window

The East Window of St Michael & All Angels Church, Wolford is possibly a unique survival, despite Pevsner's description: "The East Window with large single figures is clear colour, but technically badly done. By P G Heinersdorf & Co of Berlin".

East WindowThe window is the only known surviving example of a German painted window in the country, although a recently discovered "Mailing" mentions windows supplied to un-named churches in Liverpool and the Isle of Man. Neither seems to have survived. There is a window in Lower Saxony, installed in 1893 and restored in 2008; other Heinersdorff windows in Europe were destroyed 1939-1945. A window in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas is believed to be the only example of Heinersdorff's work on the North American Continent.

The installation in St Michael's is well documented. The Moreton Free Press on 20th March 1886 reported that "Special services were held in Wolford Church on Monday morning and evening last week, on the occasion of the dedication of an east window, the expense of which was borne by the Vicar (the Rev. Canon Wheeler)".

Recently Tom Heinersdorff, a great-grandson of the original maker has been in contact, and has visited the Church. He has provided the "Mailing" document dated 1884, in German, which seems to be akin to modern sales literature. It was hoped that it might provide an explanation as to why such a rarity should be here in Great Wolford; unfortunately it was of little help.

Was it cheaper than an English window? Was it better quality? Why German? Many years ago Jane Alderhouse, a great-great-granddaughter of Canon Wheeler, was in touch on other matters and was then looking through the recently discovered family papers which might have provided some answers - unfortunately all means of contact has now been lost.

In short, we have an unique but unexplained window. It should be looked after and conserved. An estimated cost of restoration in 2000 was £20-30,000. Its uniqueness could be used as an argument for the conservation of St Michael's!

Lawrie Thompson