Monday, 27 September 2010

Ideas tasting with Matisse, Picasso and Klee at the Museum Berggruen

From Wordle-images

The "Ideas Taster" is the adviser to the dwarf's Low King in Terry Pratchett's Discworld. And ideas tasting is the best description of what a good museum visit should be. I felt I was tasting ideas as I wandered around the Museum Berggruen.

The museum is a stone's throw from the pretty little Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin. Inside is a collection of  three main artists; Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee. The personal collection had been built by Heinz Berggruen. He was an art dealer and a friend of the artists.

Wandering around the radial galleries, I was struck by the many portraits. There were not only the differences between the artists, each artist showed great variety in their own styles.

The Picasso collection showed that he was constantly learning from other artist's ideas. For example, his friendship with Braques resulted in cubist images. There was a clear influence of African art in his studies of faces. I was amazed by the wide variety of styles that Picasso used. This was so different from the schoolboy perception of artists using each new style, one after the other.

They were all technically proficient artists. You could however see from the finish of many of the pictures, that the idea was more important than the finish. Often works were done on irregular pieces of paper. On a study for a poster by Matisse, some of the collage pieces were wrinkled after being glued on.

What did come through was the sense of humour and play. This is very apparent with two of Klee's pictures. First, The Lover (der Verliebte). Here the bubble head of the lover contains the image of the lady of his desire. Second, the sealed lady (Versiegelte Dame). The red seal on her lips draws the eye. The head is made of "simple" curves, but you immediately get the artists pun.

My favourite picture? Dora Maas with green finger nails (Dora Maas aux ongles verts) by Picasso.

So what lessons did I learn from my visit?

  • Be an "ideas taster"
  • Play with new ideas
  • At first, worry less about technique.

Is there an exhibition or an artist whose work you really learnt something from?

Sunday, 26 September 2010

A visit to the City of Five Towers, Halle (Saale) and its Marktkirche

Third time lucky! The ethereal sound of Bach's Fantasy and Fugue in D-minor echoed around the Marktkirche in Halle Saale as I entered. The music was played on the Reichel Organ, the very instrument that Georg Friederich Händel had learnt to play on.

Halle is known as the City of Five Towers. The Marktkirche has four towers as a result of its replacing two churches that had stood on the site over 450 years ago. Nearby is the red bell tower, the "Rote Turm" from 1506. Together these five towers dominate the city centre market place under the stern gaze of Händel, the city's famous son.

The inside of this late gothic church was a surprise. It breathes light and space, yet the amount of decoration is unusual for a protestant church. The church was first built as a catholic bastion against the new protestants. It was still incomplete when the latter took over in 1541. Luckily they kept to the original vision!

There are two organs, the larger being at the back of the nave. The smaller organ by Reichel that Händel played on is above the altar. Tuned for 17th century music, it is well suited to the works of the old masters.

The pulpit seemed extravagent to me! However, it's baroque elements did not put off the preachers!

I liked the south and north walls of the aisles which are decorated in white floral scrolls on blue. I noticed that on one area near the entrance, faces and animals have been coloured in.

Situated south of Berlin and not far from Leipzig, Halle used to be famous for it's salt. The city's emblem is a salt crystal over a crescent salt pan. The emblem is very like that of Portsmouth FC! Halle's famous son Händel was invited over to England when his employer, George, the elector of Hannover, became King George I of Great Britain.

All too soon, my colleague, Syvia Schmidt of Come Across, had to drag me back to reality. The pleasure of the visit set the tone for a positive meeting with companies that afternoon.

What sights have you enjoyed on your trips?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Israeli football building many bridges between cultures

From Wordle-images

I met with the organisors of an Arab-Jewish girls football team over breakfast this morning!

I talked to Amnon Shenk from the municipality of Jerusalem, who support this venture and Nihad Masarw, who has long experience of organising similar trips.

As we were chatting, the 17 strong team of relaxed 17 and 18 year olds gradually emerged from their beauty sleep and came to breakfast. The hubbub of friendly conversation gradually rose in the room.

The team are here as part of a 30yr long sports exchange between Jerusalem and Berlin.

Even better, one of the teams they are playing is a mixed German team of Turkish and German cultural backgrounds.

This is a fantastic idea, working on crossing cultural and historical differences on so many levels; Jewish & Arabic within Israel, Germany and Israel, Germans of Turkish and German cultural backgrounds.

The return visit to Jerusalem will be by a basketball team later in the year.

The first football game is on Saturday. I wish them Good Luck!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A chance conversation on cutting edge DNA sequencing

© istock photo Chitra Tatachar

I exchanged a glance and a smile with an urbane looking fellow traveller. We had just ruefully joined yet another RyanAir queue for our flight!
We started talking and I was delighted to have a reminder of my scientific past.

Jack Peart works for Illumina. The products are state of the art DNA sequencers with particular relevance to green biotech, i.e. plants. This brought back vivid memories of my time as as a scientist in the plant field.

I remembered the awe and delight at being able to sequence a few hundred bases of DNA after months of work in the 1980's. By the 1990s we could work with tens of samples over a week or two. Of course, by the noughties, the technology had advanced to screen hundreds of sequences.

The age of genome sequencing was well and truly there - I still remember receiving and holding the first CD with the very first whole plant genome. Then it was a marvel that others had achieved after decades of work.

I was used to sequencing using gels of finely pored material that separated molecules by size. Our results were first made visible using radioactivity. Later, safer fluorescent dyes were introduced, banishing the Geiger counters from the lab.

As Jack briefed me whilst we were in the queue, DNA sequencing is very different now. Billions of different DNA fragments are bound to solid supports and sequenced simultaneously. The future proves to be even more amazing; there is the potential of reading single strands of DNA base by base as they pass through microscopic pores.

Surely, it will not be long before one company or set of researchers win the second Archon X prize. The prize is for sequencing 100 human genomes within 10 days at a very high accuracy.

What recent advances in technology have amazed you?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

How to make your blog more readable

I was browsing Linkedin and reading recent blogs. Suddenly, I came across one that was almost unintelligible! I had great difficulty in understanding it. Jargon, long and twisted sentences hid the real message. I actually stopped reading before reaching the end of the article.

This prompted me to ask; how readable are MY articles?

Well, you can probably read them quite well – if you are a university graduate! The readability index of my previous blog articles is in the 30s. This is on a scale of 0 to 100, where higher scores are more easily understood. In fact, I was more Harvard Law Review (score 30) than Readers Digest (scores 65% plus)!

A review of other blogs showed a wide variation in readability. As might be expected from a blogging expert, Anne Hawkins’ blog scored well. So did HBN’s Ruth Ekblom.

However, few had achieved the dizzying quality of today’s successful book writers. J K Rowling, John Grisham, and my favourite Terry Pratchett achieve a readability score of 60 plus. People with a grade 7 reading level (equivalent to 11 – 13 year olds) can easily read their gripping books.

So how can we improve our blog writing? By:

  • Writing in shorter, clearer sentences
  • Avoiding jargon
  • Striving for high readability at a simpler reading level

It requires effort, but there is a tool to help you; the online readability checker at You copy and paste your blog text into it and the checker then calculates the:

  • Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score (change your text to achieve scores above 60)
  • Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level (aim for a reading level of 7 or 8)

Microsoft Word also includes a readability check. It is hidden in the proofing set-up of the spelling and grammar tools and you may have to turn it on.

Readability statistics are not the complete answer. Ensure you are getting your message across!
So have a go. Make your next blog a readable one!

(This article has a readability score of 63 to 73. It is understandable at grade 7!)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire out in Huntingdon

If you went out in Huntingdon today, you bewared of a big surprise! As several of the blushing and giggling ladies around the market place found when Elvis followed and serenaded them as they walked by.

Elvis also metamorphosed into Amy Winehouse, a feature so shocking that I averted my camera to protect the lens. Yes, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire had hit the town and the shy but musical Johnny D was on the prowl for the Andie Harper Show!

I had braved the A14, passing one horrendous accident on the other carriageway on this ostensibly key European highway that is in dire need of improvement, on the suggest of the shows persuasive producer, Mark Williamson.

The objective was to talk positively about the town’s and Huntingdonshire’s businesses positively during a short interview, in my capacity as Chairerson of HBN (the Huntingdonshire Business Network).

Oh Facebook, you have a lot to answer for, for there was an instant flash of recognition from Andie as I rounded the corner into the bustling market square in the glorious sunshine.

When you have listened to the show for over a year almost every weekday and been part of the active Facebook friend group, it was a double pleasure to not only be recognised, but also made to feel that this really was part of a community.

Andie waved me in like a friendly boxer inviting a novice to the ring and, with a microphone in my face, the interview began. I presume I was coherent (I’ll have to check on i-player), but I do remember actually stemming my verbal diarrhoea sufficiently so that Andie could ask several questions – a big improvement on my previous interviews.

Importantly, we did get to emphasise the importance of the region’s business community and the help organisations such as HBN can give to small and micro businesses. BBC Radio Cambridgeshire has been doing a sterling job of talking to local businesses not just in the two main cities but also in the region’s market towns.

Adrenaline rush over, there was time to relax, take pictures and (enjoyably) join in the impromptu singing with Johnny - where I couldn’t decide to go for the castrato or deep base voice so merrily mixed between the two.

I also plucked up the courage to talk to the inestimable and seductively voiced Carol Carman, who coquettishly flirted with the camera holding the giant clock that kept the program and presenters to time.

A steady stream of visitors came, many old friends of the show, to have a chat with the presenters and sight-see the road show bus. A beautiful rescued racing dog was there to be petted as it stared at the activity through patient and soulful eyes.

The penalty of having been a scientist is that you have an ever constant curiosity as to how things work. Andy (not Andie) at the control desk in the bus gave me a brief introduction and reminded me of the practical realities of the speed of light (and therefore radio waves).

The signal from the bus was sent via a satellite dish on the bus, at a shallow angle just scraping over the encroaching buildings, to a satellite situated somewhere over Brazil. The signal was then bounced back to the BBC Cambridgeshire centre in Cambridge, a round trip of probably 70,000 miles. Consequently, with the additional electronic signal processing, the program was broadcast with a one second delay.

It was also a pleasure to see that the BBC was looking to nurture future talent by supporting Warwick University based Anna with some real work experience. Anna spoke of the real benefit of learning what was involved to run a radio show.

If you are a business person, be aware that publically owned broadcasters like the BBC cannot advertise. However, if you can make a valid and useful contribution from time to time due to your professional experience, this is really valued.

Therefore, whatever your situation, I thoroughly recommend anyone finding a local radio show, such as Radio Cambridgeshire and getting involved with their community, because ultimately it is your community too.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

An ultra-deep Apple pie for sharing when you have too many apples

From Cakes

A poor Summer but great apple yields this year from the three small trees in our garden, leading to a glut. Time to bake a cake!
We have an 8 inch (20cm) diameter baking tin with a removable base, about 3" deep giving an unrivalled opportunity to use as much apple as possible.

Weigh out 500g plain flour into a mixing bowl and add:
  • 250g sugar
  • 250g margarine and chop into sugar & flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar (makes 3 teaspoons of baking powder)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
Knead mixture into a dough (best with a mixer  & dough hooks) and roll into a ball
Chill in Fridge for about 20 minutes to make more manageable (actually, I'm often too impatient for this)
  • Divide ball of dough into three equal parts
  • Roll out ball to cover base of a 8 inch (20cm ) diameter baking tin. One with a removable base and sides that unclip would be ideal
  • Roll out the 2nd ball into a long sausage that will reach around the inside wall of the baking tin, spread to cover whole inside walls, joining the base at the bottom and making sure it reaches the brim of the baking tin.
  • Peel, core and slice apples and fill up the cake tin in layers, adding sugar in between layers to sweeten. I also added some hand-picked blackberries. Continue to the brim.
  • Roll out the last ball of dough into a lid and place on top of the tin, pinching together the top and the sides all around the brim to seal the pie.
  • Pierce some holes in the pastry lid.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for an hour.
Test with a skewer (from the top) to see if the apples are fully cooked (i.e. soft). If there is still the resistance of uncooked apple, turn down the oven to about 160 deg C and continue, checking every so often till the centre is done.
Leave for a couple of hours to cool.
Good luck with removing the pie intact from the cake tin, I was fortunate!

Slicing into the pie, mine disintegrated into lumps of sweet pastry and juicy apple junks that were delicious when crowned with a ball or two of ice-cream.

Definitely a cake/pie for sharing - there was enough, not only for our family but several of the neighbours too.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Getting the FACS right in business communication

From Wordle-images

Zombies networking might have been the first impression of the unsuspecting visitor to the Hills Road Clydesdale bank meeting room last night. But no, the hideous gurning figures greeting each other were actually breaking the tension at Aaron Garner's presentation to the JCI Cambridge, "People watching, what are you missing?".
For Aaron is a certified FACS coder, someone who analyses facial expressions to determine what people are really feeling when in conversation. FACS stands for Facial Action Coding System, a system developed by decades of research by Ekman and colleagues and actually had its origins with no less than Charles Darwin's "Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals".
Tension relieved, Aaron had us working in small groups to find out what the key facial elements were for seven emotions. Flashes of happiness, sneers of contempt, jaw dropping surprise, nose wrinkling disgust, wide eyed fear, pouting sadness and teeth clenching anger rippled across the faces around the room ; Oh to have had the video camera there!
Our new found knowledge was then put to the test to see if we could identify micro-expressions, those very faint involuntary movements that reveal if there is a conflict between the verbal message and the thoughts behind it.
It was a revelation and a relief to find that we could in most instances identify little "tells". What we might have perceived as a gut reaction in a conversation could now be seen as based on these facial micro-expressions as well as other factors such as body language and changes in overall speaking style.
In the vast majority of instances, we are people with a set of beliefs and empathies that are reflected in our expressions, whether micro or macro. The exceptions are those who truly have no empathy and moral framework, such as psychopaths!
But how is this relevant to business? The reality is, that with the increase in technological options, the people we meet and deal with remain incredibly important. For many of us in small businesses, we ARE the business. By taking a conscious approach to our people watching in meetings with businesses, clients and partners, we can improve our communication, identifying hidden problems early as well as recognising the positive aspects of our relationships.
This was truly an eye-opening event, in more ways than one! If you get the opportunity to attend a talk by a FACS coder such as Aaron, I thoroughly recommend going along. Also look out for the JCI Cambridge which has risen like a phoenix and is providing interesting and cost effective events in the Cambridge Area.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Eight stained glass windows from Hereford Cathedral in High resolution

Eight of the stained glass windows in Hereford Cathedral are made available as high resolution images that can be downloaded by those interested in this art form.

The windows are listed in roughly chronological order here as they appear in the miltoncontact picasa web album, which can be accessed through the sideshow above.
  • Fragments of 14th century medieval and modern glass in the south wall of the nave. 
  • East Window of the Lady Chapel, designed by Nockalls Johnson Cottingham in 1852 and made by made by C A Gibbs of London. 
  • North Transept, design John Hardman of Birmingham1864. 
  • South Transept, by Charles Eamer Kempe in 1895. 
  • West Window, made by Clayton & Bell 1902, Commissioned by the women of Herfordshire to commemorate Queen Victoria in 1902. 
  • South aisle of the nave – in memory of Frances Leigh, window by Powell 1910. 
  • South aisle of the nave – King Charles I granting a Charter for the city of Hereford, 1920 by Powells of Whitefriars. 
  • Audley Chapel – Traherne Windows, by Tom Denny, 2007. 
The eight windows are described individually and in detail in separate articles, links below 
Some initial references: 

Some Medieval Stained Glass in Hereford Cathedral

The window above the entrance to the shop in Hereford Cathedral contains fragments of 14th century glass with two modern panels above. The slideshow above shows the sections of the window described below.

The top centre light contains a shield “or, five chevronels azure” (a gold shield with five blue chevrons). There is a reference to this description for John Denew, gentlemen of Cantebury.

Challenge: can you throw more light on this shield? 

The next right light depicts Mary, the left light shows David with his harp.

The lower right two lights are below another shield “gules, three ducal coronets, two and one or divided by either a bezant or dish or” (red shield with three golden ducal crowns separated either by a disk or a plate). “Gules, three coronets or” alone is associated with the diocese of Ely. The disk adds uncertainty.

Challenge: can you throw more light on this shield? 

The far right panel contains fragments resolving in part into a sky of sun, moon and stars which the Hereford Cathedral stained glass booklet describes as from the dream of Joseph. The booklet also indicates that the centre right panel shows Joseph being lowered into the pit.

The lower two left panels are fragments which tantalisingly hint at figures, windows and text. Above them is another shield, “gules, a stag trippant or” (red shield with a walking stag in gold) which is associated with the Davison family, who have Scottish origins.


Challenge: what are the links between this shield and Hereford?

By the 14th century, the old form of making soda glass had been replaced with “wood glass”, potash rich glass made by using wood ash during the glass manufacture.

Whilst English glass was being produced in the Weald during the 14th century, it was generally of lower quality and most of the quality glass came from the continent.

The main method of manufacture was by blowing tubes of glass, up to 3m in length, cutting off the top and bottom, slitting the tube and rolling it out into a sheet.

Various minerals added to glass manufacture create the colours, however, these are often very dense. Clear glass was therefore “flashed” with a thin layer of coloured glass.

The period also saw the introduction of silver salts that could be painted onto the glass before firing again, to give a controlled range of detail in shades from gold to orange.

Detail, such as facial features, was painted in iron and similar oxides that gave a black line in firing.

Medieval glass was not the smooth flat clear product we use in our windows – a fact that is precisely the reason for the luminosity and sparkle of medieval glass. During the stained glass revival of the 19th century, glass manufactures realised this and learnt to recreate the manufacturing processes and effects.

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

The following articles are of interest if you want more information. 

history of glass:
Medieval stained glass:
glass painting techniques through the ages:
The medieval glass industry 
Also see Hereford Cathedral: Stained glass (ISBN 978-0-7117-4491-2)

1852 Lady Chapel window dedicated to John Merewether; stained glass of Hereford Cathedral

The Lady Chapel of Hereford Cathedral has five lights making up the East Window, as can be seen in the slideshow above. They depict the life of Jesus, starting with Mary as a child through to the last supper. Whilst they have a strong vertical element, the story runs from left to right across the lights, from bottom to top. Here is my tentative interpretation:
  • Row 1: Mary with her mother Anne; Mary’s betrothal to Joseph(?); spirit of god enters Maria; Wedding of Joseph & Mary?; Jesus & Mary in stable. 
  • Row 2: Angels appear to the shepherds; 3 Kings and guiding star, visiting King Herod; Kings pay homage to Mary & Jesus; Jesus baby; Jesus, Mary & Joseph flee on a donkey. 
  • Row 3: Killing the firstborn sons; Jesus as a boy with the teachers at the temple; Jesus baptised by John the Baptist; Jesus being tempted by the devil; Turning water into wine? 
  • Row 4: Jesus and his disciples; feeding of the 5000; Walking on water; Jesus preaching to the children; Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. 
  • Row 5: Washing Jesus’ feet at last supper. 
The dedication at the bottom of the window reads:

In Memoriam Johannes Merewether sacre theologie professoris ecclesie herefordens decani Quo strenuo fautore huits Sacre aedis res(tit) Peliciter et inchoata obiit pridie donas Aprilis anno domini millesimo Octingenges quidouages Nockalls I Cottingham arch fecit AD 1852 

Dean John Merewether initiated the restoration of Hereford Cathedral by the Cottinghams in 1841.

Nockalls Johnson Cottingham (1823-1854) was an architect son of the renowned pioneer of the study of medieval gothic architecture, Lews Nockalls Cottingham (1787 – 13 October 1847), who also worked on the restoration of Hereford Cathedral;

I could find little further information on Nockalls Johnson Cottingham, other than a reference to his death on the shipwreck of the SS Arctic, on its way to New York. An account of the shipwreck is here

The window was made by C A Gibbs of London, based in Marylebone Road, London. There is a tantalizing bit of information about the company at the following site: 
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 

1864 North Transept window dedicated to Lane Freer; stained glass of Hereford Cathedral

The North Transept stained glass window in Hereford Cathedral is made of six main lights, as seen in the slideshow above. It is divided into two halves, with the Church Militant (living Christians striving towards their faith) on the left and the Church Triumphant (those who are in Heaven) on the right (

The main image of the Church Triumphant, extending across three lights, is either Jesus or God seated in the house of god with his feet on the World, surrounded by angels.

The minor scenes (all one light wide) appear to be the saints being welcomed to heaven by the angels. This conclusion is based on the fact that all the figures have halos, which were reserved in medieval art (and therefore by inference during the medieval/gothic revival of the 19th Century) for saints – see

The main image of the Church Militant, again extending across three lights, is Jesus surrounded 12 figures, presumably the disciples.

The minor scenes are different tableaus of which Christ on the cross is the most obvious. Others tentatively identified from bottom to top may be: A baptism in the river; the Sermon on the Mount; Jesus after being taken off the cross; Jesus cleansing Mary Magdalene; Jesus abating the storm; the stoning of St Stephen

Challenge: can you identify the remaining scenes correctly? 

There are six faces in the small rosettes above the main lights and the Holy Spirit is depicted in the top central part of the window.

The North Transept window at Hereford Cathedral was designed by Hardman and Co around 1864. Hardman and Co, also John Hardman Trading Co., became one of the world’s leading manufacturers of stained glass and ecclesiastical fittings.

The company had a close association with A. W. Pugin, who, with John Ruskin and The Oxford movement, defined gothic as the accepted style for churches.

More information can be found here

The window was dedicated to Archdeacon Lane Freer and cost the princely sum of £1200 at the time. Other references: Hereford Cathedral Stained Glass, ISBN 978-0-7117-4491-2, 25pages with numerous illustrations. Available from the Cathedral shop.

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

1895 South transept window dedicated to George Herbert; stained glass of Hereford Cathedral

The great stained glass window in the South transept of Hereford Cathedral represents the text from Te Deum Laudamus “The glorious company of the apostles praise thee”, according to Hereford Cathedral: Stained glass (ISBN 978-0-7117-4491-2.

The saints shown are, from top to bottom, left to right:
  • Saints Benedictus, Bonifacius, Thomas Hereford, Ethelbertu Rex, David Meneui, Dobritius, 
  • Saints Augustinus Cant., Gregorius, Augustinus doctor, Creadda, 
  • Saints Ionatius, Polycarp, Ambrosius, Iohannes Chrys, Hieronimo, Athanasius 12? 
There are rows of shields above and below the pictures of the saints of which two are probably the Bishopric of Ely (Gules three Ducal Coronets two and one Or, ie. A red shield with three gold ducal crowns) and the Bishopric of Hereford (Gules three Leopards’ Faces reversed jessant-de-Lis two and one Or, ie red shield with three upside down leopard’s heads on fleur-de-lis in gold).

The gold shield with five blue chevrons can also be seen in the top part of the window above the Cathedral shop.

The shield divided blue and red vertically, with three lions, is similar to that of Sir William (de) HERBERT "1st" Earl of Pembroke, knighted by Henry VI in 1449 (

Challenge: Can you identify the other shields!

In the bottom left hand corner is a roundel with three wheat sheaves, the mark of the window’s maker, Charles Eamer Kempe.

He had initially trained under Clayton and Bell who later manufactured another stained glass window in Hereford Cathedral, the West window.

The South Transept window is dated to 1895, by which time Kempe had set up his own studios and workshops, after being disappointed with the quality of other companies, and had relocated to 28 Nottingham Place in Central London. Kempe had a distinctive style that grew in popularity in the late 19th Century. The window is dedicated to George Herbert, who was dean of Hereford Cathedral for 27 years.

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

1910 window dedicated to Frances Leigh; stained glass of Hereford Cathedral

In the south aisle of the nave of Hereford Cahedral, the fifth window from the west depicts four biblical mothers with their children as the main figures with four virgin martyrs below them

From bottom to top, left to right
  • Dedication: “To the Glory of God and in memory of Frances Leigh, wife of the Dean of Hereford.Died 18 December, this window is the gift of English and American Friends.” 
  • Virgin Martyrs, Saints: Agnes, Dorothy, Margaret, Catherine. 
  • Mothers & Children, Saints: Ruth & Obed, Hannah & Samuel, Elizabeth & John the Baptist, Eunice & Timothy 
  • Saying: If God so loved us, God is Love, We ought to love one another 
  • Saint Francesca surrounded by children. 
The inclusion of black child around Francesca is a tribute to Frances Leigh and her work towards improving the lot of freed slaves in America, something that leads to an interesting family history linked to slavery in the US and the treatment of freed slaves after the abolition of slavery.

Frances’ mother was Fanny Kemble, an actress who married Pierce Butler. He owned significant property in Georgia, US, and inherited a plantation with over 400 slaves.

Pierce took Fanny to his plantation in 1838 where she was shocked about the slavery and became active trying to better their situation. She had two daughters Adelaide and Frances, who stayed with their father when she finally divorced him.

Fanny went on to write a journal of her stay on the plantation, using it as a basis to argue against slavery; it was published during the American Civil War, which led to the abolition of slavery in the US.

Kemble, Fanny. Journal of a residence on a Georgian plantation in 1838-1839. New York : Harper & Bros., 1863.

Her daughter Frances returned to the plantations with her father after the civil war, where they began working the plantation again, this time with their freed black labour force of former slaves.

Frances carried on running and improving the estate after her father’s death, meeting and marrying James Wentworth Leigh, the future dean of Hereford Cathedral, who helped improvethe estate further. Mirroring her mother in terms of trying to improve the black (ex-slave) worker’s lot, Frances saw the past institution of slavery in a more sympathetic light, apparent in her writings Ten Years on a Georgia Plantation Since the War: Leigh, Frances Butler, 1838-1910

Both women wrote at a time where the superiority of the white race was implicit in their beliefs, whatever their views on slavery. So if you read their accounts, I recommend reading as a counterbalance the following article on Slavery in the US

( and the speeches of Obama ( and Nelson Mandela (

The window was designed and made by James Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) who were successfully active in stained glass and glass until 1981, when bought by Caithness Glass;

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 

1902 West window dedicated to Queen Victoria; stained glass of Hereford Cathedral

The West window in Hereford Cathedral is a glorious dedication to Queen Victoria, “Erected to the Glory of God and in memory of Queen Victoria by the women of Hereford Diocese, May 13th, 1902”

The rows of figures depicted from top to bottom, left to right are:
  • St Mary, God, St Ethelbert Herefordensis (The Cathedrals patron saints) 
  • The different levels of angels = Troni, Seraphim, Domcines (?), Virtutes, Principati, Botestates, Angeli 
  • Arch Angels Gabriel, Michael, Raphael 
  • Saints Bertha, Augustus(?), Brigida, Eduardus Confessor, Frides (?), (?), Ida Centre - Queen Victoria in her youthful aspect 
  • Bottom row – Saints of Great Britain and Ireland = Saints Patricus, Etheldreda, Georgius, Andreas, Margareta Scotia, David 
The west front of Hereford Cathedral fell down in 1786 and James Wyatt was called in to repair the damage, though the repair was not well received. Thus, there was a more sympathetic reconstruction of the West wing between 1902 and 1908, by John Oldrid Scott (1841–1913)

The window was commissioned in this period by the women Hereford and made by Clayton & Bell 1902.

Clayton and Bell was one of the most prolific and proficient workshops of English stained glass during the latter half of the 19th century. Their windows are found throughout the United Kingdom, in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Clayton and Bell’s commercial success was due to the high demand for stained glass windows, their use of the best quality glass available, the excellence of their designs and their employment of efficient factory methods of production. They collaborated with many of the most prominent Gothic Revival architects.
Another famous stained glass designer and manufacturer, Charles Eamer Kempe, had initially trained in their studios and his own later workshop was responsible for the stained glass window of the South Transept 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 

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 

2007 Traherne window, Audley Chapel; stained glass in Hereford Cathedral

Thomas Traherne, MA (1636 or 1637, Hereford, England - ca. 10 October 1674, Teddington) was a metaphysical English poet and religious writer.

He grew up and went to school during the turbulent years of the Civil War, when Hereford changed hands several times between Royalists and Parliamentarians.

After gaining his degree in Oxford, he returned to Credenhill near Hereford. He was first a parish priest for 10 years and then as the private chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgeman, the Lord Keeper of the Seals of Charles II.
(Life of Traherne:

His work was not recognised until rediscovered in manuscripts and published at the very beginning of the 20th century.

The Centuries were published in 1908 and it is mainly from these that Traherne scholars advised the Cathedral to look for extracts. These were then used by Gloucestershire based stained glass artist Tom Denny to design and complete the newest stained glass windows in the Cathedral, in the Audley Chapel in 2006/07.
(The Centuries:

The four panels contain the following scenes; Do zoom in to see a lot of hidden detail and symbolism!
  • Light one from bottom to top: A stream fed pool (and Tom Denny’s signature 2006 on right); figure running through a cornfield; in the distance, the city of Hereford. 
  • Light 2: above a phoenix, a cross of fire surrounded by animals, birds and battling men. 
  • Light 3: A figure standing at one with creation with insects, minerals and Credenhill church in a river valley. 
  • Light 4. View through a gate to a crowded city. 
Again, I thoroughly recommend looking closely at the designs for all the hidden detail

Rather than go into a full description of detail here, you are directed to the Hereford Cathedral leaflet “Stained Glass to Commemorate Thomas Traherne”.

Other stained glass commissions by Tom Denny:

A church full of windows at St. Christopher, Warden Hill, Cheltenham; three windows for Gloucester Cathedral; a window for St. John's, Slimbridge, Gloucester; a window for St. Mary's, Powerstock, Dorset; a window for St. John's, Accrington, Lancashire, and a window for the Diocesan Museum, Regensburg, Germany. (
2002: Work and Prayer. St. Catherine & St. John Chapel Tewkesbury Abbey ( 2010: Tom Denny is currently working on an enormous Transfiguration window that illuminates Cuthbert's shrine at Durham Cathedral. (

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