Stained Glass in Wales | Gwydr Lliw yng Nghymru

Receiving the Crown of Life

  Receiving the Crown of Life

Photo © Martin Crampin, Imaging the Bible in Wales

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Four-light window. At the centre of the window the standing, crowned, figure of Christ blesses a soldier in armour, presented by an angel who crowns the soldier. The new Jerusalem is shown in the background. Below an angel greets the three women who visit the empty tomb, In the left-hand light a robed female figure holds a shield and broken sword with fire rising behind and castellated walls, with Christ on the cross above in a mandorla. The right-hand female figure stands with her arm chained, the flowers of a tree around her and the Virgin and Child above in a mandorla. Further angels in the tracery and rays of light emanating from the uppermost light.

size: 45 cm (width of each light) [approx]
artist: Karl Parsons

Church of St Mary, Tenby, Pembrokeshire
north wall of the north aisle (window number: nVIII)

Text below the main scene: 'Well done thou good & faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord' (Matthew 25:21 and 23).

Given in memory of Lieut-Col H.M. Henderson, of the Royal Engineers, who was killed in action at Irles, 10 March 1917. A further memorial plaque by the artist is also placed below the window, commemorating Bessie Henderson, who died in 1919. This was erected by her husband Commander J.H. Henderson, presumably also the patron of the window.

The figures in the outer lights use cartoons prepared for an earlier memorial window by the artist of 1912 at Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent. The window commemorated the early pioneers of flight Charles Stewart Rolls and Cecil Grace, who both died tragically in 1910.

The window is typical of certain kinds of private war memorial windows (in public places) depicting Christ receiving dead servicemen into heaven. Often the text used is that from Revelation 2:10, but here the crown of life is given while the text alludes to Christ's parable of the talents; Lieutenant Colonel Henderson being judged as a good servant. The figure on the left holds the shield with the red cross of the resurrection, repelling the 'fiery darts of the wicked' (Ephesians 6:16). The promise of the resurrection is underlined by the scene at the empty tomb below. The figure on the right represents Hope, although the iconography is unusual. Usually the figure of Hope is shown with an anchor, but the same figure used by Parsons in the Eastchurch memorial window has a quotation from Zechariah set beneath it: 'Turn you to the Stronghold ye prisoners of hope' (9:12). The quotation is in the context of the coming of the messiah, and in the Tenby window the figure of Hope, a prisoner, looks up at the risen Christ.

Record added by Martin Crampin. Last updated on 27-04-2018


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Further reading

Martin Crampin, Stained Glass from Welsh Churches (Talybont: Y Lolfa, 2014), pp. 190–1, 196, 204.

Thomas Lloyd, Julian Orbach and Robert Scourfield, The Buildings of Wales: Pembrokeshire (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2004), p. 471.

David Beaty, Light Perpetual: Aviator's Memorial Windows (Shrewsbury: Airlife, 1995), p. 15.

Martin Crampin and John Morgan-Guy, Imaging the Bible in Wales (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2010), The Victory of Good Over Evil: A Crown of Life.

Martin Crampin, Stained Glass at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tenby (Aberystwyth: Sulien, 2014), pp. 12-15.


Painton Cowen, A Guide to Stained Glass in Britain (London: Michael Joseph, 1985), p. 223.


User contributed comments

For what it is worth I think Bessie rather than her husband paid for the window. She inherited from her adopted father, Henry May, (hence the son's name) who made his fortune in Honolulu.
Submitted by: Mark Henderson (2014-11-12 10:51:39)

Click to show suggested citation for this record
Martin Crampin (ed.), Stained Glass in Wales Catalogue, University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth, 2018. (accessed 13 April 2024)

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  Receiving the Crown of Life

Photo © Martin Crampin, Imaging the Bible in Wales

Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies

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