Thursday 2 September 2010

1920 window dedicated to Sir James Rankin of Bryngwyn; stained glass in Hereford Cathedral

The stained glass window in the 6th bay from the West Window in the south aisle of the nave depicts a historic scene from Hereford on the 4th September 1645.

During the English Civil War, Hereford changed several times; whilst it was in the centre of a royalist area, it was an important link in the supply route and targeted by the parliamentarians.

The city was taken in 1642 and plundered, to be retaken by Royalists, who were evicted again the next year for a period.

Colonel Barnabas Scudamore took on the job of rebuilding the city’s defences and gaining the townspeople’s support for the next two years. In 1645, the city held out when besieged by the Parliamentarians until relieved by the King’s forces. On September 4th, Charles entered the City. Colonel Scudamore was knighted immediately and the city was given a new Coat of Arms.

This is the scene depicted in the window.

The new arms included three lions of Richard I of England, ten Scottish Saltires signifying the ten defeated Scottish regiments, a very rare lion crest on top of the coat of arms signifying "defender of the faith" and the even rarer gold-barred peer's helm, found only on the arms of one other municipal authority: those of the City of London.

According to Hereford Cathedral: Stained Glass, King Charles is handing the charter to the Mayor, William Carter. Dean Herbert Croft and Lord Scudamore are also shown.

Challenge: can you identify any or all of the figures apart from the King and the Mayor?

Just 3 months later Hereford was captured by subterfuge by the Parliamentarians and remained so till the restoration of 1660!

Below the tableau are four arms, the outer two contain the Scudamore shield, “gules, three stirrups, two and one or” (red shield with three stirrups). Then there is the arms of Hereford after the addition of Charles I charter, and the arms of Charles I himself.

Hereford in the civil war

The window is dedicated “In memory of Sir James Rankin of Bryngwyn in this county Baronet born Christmas Day 1842 died 17 April 1915 Chief Steward of this City 1878-1915 Member of Parliament for Leominster and North Herefordshire for nearly 30 yrs. This window is erected by his son Lt. Col. Reginald Rankin Bt 1920”,_1st_Baronet

Photo of Sir James Rankin, post 1902

His son, Sir Reginald, the 2nd baronet, was a big-game hunter who had shot the largest snow-leopard on record in India and who had survived being frozen after falling asleep in the Andes.

The grandson, Sir Hugh Rankin lead an equally colourful life and the curious can find out more here:

Not so often quoted are the exploits of Niall Rankin and his wife Lady Jean Rankin, Woman of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who together were involved in the preservation of rare ducks and geese.

The shield at the very top of the window is a Rankin arms "Or a cinquefoil Gules between in chief a battleaxe erect between two boars' heads couped and in base a boar's head couped between two battleaxes erect Sable". Below it are the shields of the Hereford Bishopric and possibly that of Ely.

The window was made by Powells of Whitefriars, who had also made the 1910 window dedicated to Frances Leigh in Hereford Cathedral;

Also see: Hereford Cathedral: Stained glass (ISBN 978-0-7117-4491-2)

Eight stained glass windows in Hereford Cathedral are described individually and in detail in separate articles, links below 

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