Kempe Stained Glass Windows
Charles Eamer Kempe
Picture, Charles Kempe
St Mary's Church in Dymock is very fortunate in having not just one but four windows by Charles Eamer Kempe - although it's said you can’t go twenty miles in Britain without seeing one! The small pictures included below can't do them justice, they're best seen live, so worth a visit! (Return to top)

Kempe was born on the 29th June 1837 and died in 1907. His ambition was to become a clergyman, but he was a shy man and stammered. On going up to Pembroke College, he realised that he was not to serve in the sanctuary so he decided to decorate it. He established his glassworks in London - The Kempe Studio - in 1869, producing stained glass and other decorative features, mainly for churches. He is associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement. He never married and was happiest when with his workmen, whom he would entertain in his beautiful home "Old Place" at Lindfield in Sussex. (Return to top)
North Transept
Picture, North Transept
TThe earliest of Kempe's stained glass windows in St Mary’s, Dymock is in the North Transept, and was completed in 1885. This shows the Archangels Raphael, Michael and Gabriel. Particularly impressive are the peacock's feather wings and rows of pearls that line their cloaks - typical of Kempe’s work. The dragon below St Michael is grinning slyly. As this is an early window, the colours are dark; they were to become lighter in later ones. This window is dedicated to the Rev'd Charles Dighton who died in 1826 and his wife Maria who died 49 years later in 1875. (Rev'd Charles Dighton was not a vicar of Dymock). (Return to top)
East Window
Picture, East Window
The next oldest Kempe glass, of 1889, is the East Window behind the altar table. The Crucifixion is the central theme, with the Virgin and St John on either side; flanking them are St Peter, with his huge key, and St Paul. Below is St Edward the Confessor, a favourite of the Beauchamps (benefactor's of Dymock), and on the other side St Thomas of Hereford, as Dymock used to be in Herefordshire. Kempe’s arms can be seen in one of the small lights above: three sheaves on a red ground in a golden border. Later he was to use a single stook usually somewhere in the border of the glass. The donor is likely to be Frederick Lygon, sixth Earl Beauchamp (1830-1891), a shy reserved man who was the generous patron of the schools and churches on his estates. (The curtain at the bottom covers an area of blank stone which probably used to have a picture, most likely the Last Supper). (Return to top)
South Transept
Picture, South Transept
The next window in order is from 1893 and is in the South Transept ('Now the Side Chapel'). This shows St George and St Alban, two national saints of England with, below, Moses and the Burning Bush and Gideon and the Fleece, whose attributes allude to the Virgin Mary, the main subject of this chapel and its window. The window has an inscription panel in memory of the 6th Earl Beauchamp, whose arms are to be seen here. (Return to top)

Standing at the head of the nave between the two transepts, it's clear how Kempe's style changes through time: the oldest on your left in the North Transept is the darkest, straight ahead the East window is a little lighter and in the South Transept light pours through. (Return to top)
Picture, Sanctuary
The fourth and latest Kempe window from 1901 is in the south wall of the Sanctuary and is the smallest. It shows the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary with more splendid peacock feathers and pearls, her candle flame has been particularly well depicted whilst the faces of the figures are exquisite. This is the only glass to show Kempe’s usual ‘signature’, the single gold sheaf of wheat. It is dedicated to Florence Horton who died on the 23rd September 1899. (Return to top)
Other Kempe Glass
Picture, Stook of Wheat
There is more Kempe glass to see in Much Marcle church nearby, and yet many more in Ledbury Church and Malvern Priory. It’s interesting to look for Kempe's ‘signature’ of a golden wheat sheaf worked into the design.

There is a Kempe Society where you can learn more about this marvellous creator of church art. To go to their website click here (Return to top)
Non-Kempe Glass
Picture, Porch Window
There are two other windows of stained glass in St Mary's Church, neither attributed to Charles Kempe. The larger is a window giving light to the Chancel whilst fragments of medieval glass that made up the former East Window have been set into the window in the main porchway entrance. (Return to top)