All Saints East Window, Beckley

Dave Godden

Maidstone, United Kingdom

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Best viewed large.

The east window of All Saints Church at Beckley, East Sussex, UK aptly displays a number of Saints.

It commemorates the Rev’d Thomas Shadforth who was rector from 1877-1887.

The centre light shows the glorified figure of Christ surrounded by angels bearing the instruments of the Crucifixion including the crown of thorns, hammer, pincers, ladder and nails.

On the left are St John The Baptist and the Virgin Mary. Below them are St Stephen, the first martyr and St Lawrence with the gridiron on which he was martyred.

On the right are St Mary Magdalene with her box of ointment and St Hilda, Abbess of Whitby a pioneer of monastic life in Britain. Below them are two founders of later orders of friars St Francis of Assisi and St Dominic.

In the bottom lights are the four great doctors St Augustine of Hippo, St Jerome, St Ambrose and St Gregory The Great, the pope who sent St Augustine to England, which is symbolised by the traditional figure of St George.

Like all the Victorian windows at Beckley it was the work of George Ostrehan.

George William Ostrehan (1868/69-1903) was born in the Madras Presidency, India but was in England by 1881. He came from a military family and was both a designer of stained glass and a painter. He married a fellow-artist, Eva, in 1890 in Westminster, though they then appear to have spent some time in Newlyn, Cornwall before returning to London in 1893. It was probably during this period that he designed two windows in the church at Newlyn, indicating that his interest in stained glass started early. Otherwise, not much is known about his presence there, but it is hard to reconcile his presence in this advanced artistic colony with the only known example of his work as a painter – some admittedly less than ideal photographs of paintings of angels in a conventional post-Pre-Raphaelite style that were formerly at St Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells – though he is said to have exhibited in London during the 1890s. It seems likely that his interest in stained glass developed during this time – he designed extensively for Clewer, Berkshire, where one of his brothers was curate. In 1901 the couple were living at 26 Montpelier Street, Knightsbridge, describing themselves as artists. His early death occurred at Sunbury, Middlesex and is well attested though, on possibly slightly doubtful authority, glass to his design is stated to have been installed at Beckley as late as 1908.

text on Ostrehan from Sussex Parish Church Architects

Artwork Comments

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