Thursday, August 24, 2023

One Window, Four Panels, and the Arms of Four Bishops of Ely

Ah, cathedrals! Soaring ceilings, wide naves. Oh, yeah, and the feast for the eyes that is stained glass.

This four-paneled window in Ely Cathedral memorializes in wondrous color the arms of four Bishops of Ely, each supported by two angels and surmounted with a bishop's mitre also supported by the angels. Also flanking each coat of arms is a scroll with the dates (in Roman numerals) of each Bishop's tenure in office.

On the left side of the window (and please click on either of the images below to see the full-size photographs in all of their glorious detail), we find:

On the left, the arms of Hugh Northwold, Bishop of Ely 1229-1254. The arms consist of the See of Ely impaling the Bishop's personal arms, Azure three crowns each enfiling two arrows in saltire or; and 

on the right, the arms of Hugh de Balsham, Bishop of Ely 1256-1286. Here also, the See of Ely impaling the Bishop's personal arms, Or three pallets gules.

And on the right side of the window, we see:

To the left, the arms of John de Hotham, Bishop of Ely 1316-1337. Again, the See of Ely impaling his arms, Barry of eight azure and argent on a canton or a martlet sable; and

to the right, the arms of John Alcock, Bishop of Ely 1486-1500. The See of Ely impaling Argent on a fess between three cock’s heads sable combed and wattled gules a bishop’s mitre or. We have seen these arms before, with the addition of a bordure charged with crowns, in the arms of Jesus College, Cambridge, which Bishop Alcock founded in 1496.

These windows are a testament to the stained glassmaker's art, and are, frankly, a riot of color. If you ever get the chance to visit Ely Cathedral in person, make sure you do not miss this window! My photographs are nice, but they do not really do these windows the kind of justice that they deserve.

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