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Bridlington Priory East Window |

Bridlington Priory East Window

Bridlington Priory written by the late John. W. Lamb, M.A., Ph.D.

No one can look at the East window without observing that the East wall is not square with the arcading of the chancel. The plan on page 4 (of the original leaflet available at the priory) showing the ground plan of the entire Priory buildings before the Dissolution clearly indicates that the choir was not in line with the nave, but that it slightly deviated to the North. In consequence, when the East wall was erected it was found that the South arcading extended further East than that on the North.

This could not be altered, and to this day the East wall remains more than two feet out of square with the nave. When the East wall was erected to enclose the nave it was pierced by two narrow windows, one in the Decorated and the other in the Perpendicular style. During the Restoration towards the end of the nineteenth century the wall was pierced and the present tracery, similar to the great window in Tintern Abbey, was built.

The window is commonly called a "Jesse" window. Jesse was the father of David, who became king of Israel (I Sam, xvi), and he is regarded as the first person in the genealogy of our Blessed Lord. The window is so designed that the descent of Jesus Christ from Jesse is plainly represented by the various characters who are to be found in the "Jesse Tree". For those who are interested in the historical and prophetic aspects of this subject we would refer them to the prophecy recorded in Isaiah. and the first chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel.

It will be noted that at the foot of the central panel Jesse is shown as being seated and from the side springs a branch of a tree. This branch can be traced round the window and ends in the topmost central panel which contains a figure of the Christ Child with His Mother, the blessed Virgin Mary.

As will be readily perceived it is not an easy matter to describe the window without a diagram, but we shall assume that the Visitor has the Guide Book in his hand and that he is facing the East window and following the description here set out.

The central panel to which we have already referred, gives us the clue to the whole window. As we have said, the figure at the bottom represents Jesse (I), the one immediately above King David (2) and the figure above King Solomon (3). The sequence then goes from side to side working from the centre. In the first panels above the sill to the left are figures 4, 5 and 6 and to the right figures 7, 8, and 9. A similar sequence is followed with the exception of the topmost row of lights. Here an interesting feature may be noted in the panel immediately to the right from the centre. It will be observed that the artist has placed two figures in one panel. One of the figures carries a tablet bearing the names "Joseph" and "Jacob".

The wording of the two rows of the upper panels when taken throughout reads as follows: "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots" ( Isaiah xi ), "And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even for ever" (lsaiah ix).

In the trefoils above are representations of angelic beings, while the four trefoils in the topmost tracery each contains a symbolic representation of one of the four Evangelists. In the centre of the trefoils there is the monogram "I.H.S."

Before leaving this masterpiece of artist and craftsman alike, note the vividness of the colouring which gives a dominating beauty to the greyness of the stonework which frames it. Any suggestion of harshness in the colours disappears when the window is seen in the light of the early morning. As the sunshine of dawn streams through, it brings an exquisite toning of the colours the effect of which is one of indescribable beauty