St John the Baptist, Cookham Dean

Encounter God through warm hospitality and inspired worship


Part of the Lavers and Barraud
sanctuary window

The Charles Eamer Kempe window

We are fortunate to have examples of three great Victorian stained glass window makers.

All three sanctuary windows are fine examples of the work of  Messrs Lavers and Barraud dating from around 1864. The firm was established in London in 1855 by Nathaniel Wood Lavers (1828-1911) and Francis Philip Barraud (1824-1900).  Later, in 1866, Nathaniel Hubert John Westlake, a designer who had been working for them for some time, was made a partner. Westlake was a giant in his profession and it is largely on his skills that the formidable reputation of Lavers & Barraud rests.

An example of the work of Charles Eamer Kempe (1834-1907) in the memorial window, depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds at the Manger, was installed in 1893 in memory of Nellie, wife of John Wetherby of Melmott Lodge, Cookham who died in 1889. 

There is no doubt that  Kempe was one of the giants among Victorian glass artists. There are examples of his work in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Christopher Woodforde, author of ‘English Stained and Painted Glass’ is somewhat reserved in his appreciation:

“The windows of Charles Eamer Kempe vary in quality, but always repay examination.”

 On the other hand the Rev Owen Chadwick in his book ‘The Victorian Church’ heaps nothing but praise on his head:

 “The art (stained glass) attained its Victorian zenith not with the aesthetic innovations of William Morris or Edward Burne-Jones but in the Tractarian artist Charles Eamer Kempe.”

The west window, made by Clayton & Bell in the late 1870’s, depicts the first Adam in the Garden of Eden and the last Adam, Jesus Christ, crowned with glory. It also shows the first Eve and the second Eve, Mary the mother of the Lord. Although barely noticeable to the untrained eye it is unfortunate that in September 1971 the head of Christ, cartooned by George Daniels, was replaced by a work that does not match the strength or style of the original work. The firm of Clayton and Bell was started by John Richard Clayton (1827-1913) and Alfred Bell (1832-1895) when they became partners in 1855. Interestingly enough Clayton first took up designing stained glass under the guidance of Richard Cromwell Carpenter. The firm soon became one of the leading and most respected  designers and makers of stained glass windows and trained many artists who went on to achieve fame in their own right including Kempe, Street, Burlison and Grylls.