The windows of Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield is in its bicentennial year, having opened in 1819.
I thought that now was a good time to publish a blog about one of the most striking features of the church, our wonderful stained glass. Most striking is the East Window, being opposite the entrance as you come in. The top half is a depiction of Jesus ascending to heaven with the disciples looking on. The bottom half is an image taken from the parable of the sheep and the goats found in Matthew chapter 25.
The wording inder the image cannot be seen, due to the reredos behind the altar, which was erected because the morning sunlight through the window meant the celebrant at communion was seen in silhouette. The dedication of the window can be seen on a plaque to the right of the window. The scripture that describes the lower panes remains hidden.
The inscription reads:
Top line, panels 2, 3 and 4.
Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and ye gave me meat, thirsty and ye gave me drink.
I was a stranger and ye took me in.
I was naked and ye clothed me.
I was sick and ye visited me.
I was in prison and ye came unto me.
The second pane from the left shows strangers being welcomed and shown towards an open door in a building over which flies a flag of the old Huddersfield Coat of arms which was in use up to the local government reorganisation in 1974.
We are reminded that welcoming the stranger means bringing them into our towns and cities to be with us where we live. Be like the host in the stained glass, welcome people to where you are.
On the south side of the church, on what would have been the central window, but is now the rear one since the erection of the welcome area, is the window commemorating the first world war of 1914 – 1918 has the war memorial alongside. It is unusual as it shows a tank in the lower panels, which is very unusual in stained glass. The tank is behind the marching soldiers and horsemen but it can be seen if you look at the panels carefully. It is one of those old tanks with tracks all the way round and guns on the side.
The front of the tank tracks can be seen in the left hand pane between the heads of the horse and its rider, the gun barrel is behind the rider’s head. In the middle panel the Bach of the tracks are visible between the horses legs and the gun carriage wheel can be seen in the right panel, also under the horse.
The right window also shows the black, yellow and red tricolour of Belgium. The Belgians were refugees in WWI, fleeing from the battles and destruction in their country. Britain took 250,000 of them.
In Yorkshire where these refugees were billeted depended on their class. French speaking Belgians went to towns like Harrogate or Ilkley. Huddersfield took Flemish speakers who worked in textile mills whilst their English workers were away fighting in the war.
After the was most of these Belgians went home, but a few stayed, which was the inspiration fot Agatha Christie to create the detective Hercule Poirot.
Our stained glass contains reference that we welcomed refugees and that they contributed to our community.
Opposite the war memorial window, and put in at the same time, is a window showing scenes from the story of Ruth in the Old Testament.
The lower panels show Ruth gleaning in the fields of Boaz.
Gleaning was a practice where landowners were not allowed to harvest to the edges of their fields or to pick up what was dropped in order that the poor, refugees and those passing through the land would have food to eat. There was to be no poverty in the land by God’s decree.
Who knew that stained glass could carry a political message? But then parts of the bible are highly political about how the poor, widows, orphans and refugees should be treated. Our church has stained glass from the 19th and 20th centuries which focuses on that message.
Holy Trinity Church continues to support the less well off in many ways including contributing food to the local food bank in the town centre, and donating goods to other countries through Cart Huddersfield (Christian African Relief Trust)
Details of what we are doing to celebrate 200 years of being a church can be found on the church’s website http://www.holytrinityhuddersfield.com/shine/ or on Facebook or Twitter under #HT200.