In his first letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul wrote his famous passage about the gifts of faith, hope and love and concluded that the greatest of these is love – or ‘charity’ as it appears in some older translations. Although the meaning is far deeper than romantic love, the time around Valentine’s Day is an appropriate reminder of the gift of love, be it human or divine.
On the north wall of the former East Kirk there is a window of three lights with tracery which features depictions of Faith, Hope and Charity – the ‘three graces’. The window was created in 1908 as a memorial to George Donald, an elder of the church, and his wife Elizabeth Milne. They had died in 1890 and 1901 respectively. George Donald owned ‘Potty’ Donald’s Paint and Glass merchant business in Netherkirkgate, Aberdeen.
The presently available records do not indicate who made this memorial window. One possibility suggests that it was produced by the family business, but there is no direct evidence for this. Others have indicated that it was produced by the company Shrigley and Hunt of Lancaster, but many of their records were destroyed in a fire. If anyone who reads this can provide further information we will be pleased to hear from you.
The company of Shrigley’s had been in Lancaster from the mid-1700s initially carrying out painting, carving and gilding. Arthur Hunt ran a successful stained glass and painting company in the south of England. He acquired the company in 1868 and developed it to become a leading stained glass company, under the name of Shrigley and Hunt. Their work can be found throughout the UK and Europe, although there are relatively few examples of their work in Scotland. There are two other windows known to be made by them in the former East Kirk of St Nicholas building. The company finally closed in 1982. The window is described as being in the ‘Aesthetic’ style of stained glass which drew on the pre-Raphaelite movement. The right-hand light of this window depicts ‘Charity’ and is shown in the accompanying photograph. It demonstrates the characteristic use of boldly contrasting colours beneath canopies of dark green foliage and red fruit with the name in a scroll. ‘Charity’ carries a child in her arms.
The window was restored and cleaned during the Phase 1 work in 2010-11.