St. Alban the Martyr

St. Hilda Window

What date is this window?
We know that it was given in 1891, as the plaque beneath it says so.

Who made this window?
We know that it was made by the firm of Clayton and Bell, as an entry for our church in The Worcester Diocesan Church Calendar for 1897 (reporting the events of 1896) records that they had supplied all the stained glass in the church except the East Window in the south chapel.

Who gave this window?
John and Mary A Meredith.

Is there a dedication plaque?
Yes, a brass plaque beneath the window reads: "A thankoffering from John and Mary A Meredith Whitsuntide MDCCCXI. Praise to the Holiest in the Height."

At the top of the window two angels hold a scroll bearing the text "Holy, Holy, Holy", while at the foot a single angel holds a scroll with the same wording. Between, St Hilda stands within an architectural frame, holding a crook - the sign of her authority as an abess. In her other hand she holds her traditional symbol - a 'snakestone' - a type of fossil amonite found in the Jurassic shale at Whitby. Two more snakestones lie at her feet. Legend tells of a plague of snakes which Hilda turned to stone, supposedly explaining the presence of ammonite fossils on the shore. This type of ammonite was given the scientific name Hildoceras bifrons in honour of Saint Hilda.

St Hilda
Legend apart, Hilda (or Hild) (c. 614–680) was a great-niece of Edwin, King of Deira. In 616, Edwin defeated Bernicia, creating a single Kingdom of Northumbria. When in King Edwin adopted Christianity and was baptised on Easter Day 627, 12 April, his entire court, including the 13-year-old Hilda were baptised too. 

In 633 Edwin was killed by Penda, the last pagan King of Mercia. Northumbria was overrun and Hilda took refuge in Kent, the home of Edwin’s widow Æthelburh, who founded a convent at Lyminge.

In about 647 Hilda answer the call of Bishop Aidan of Lindisfarne to returned to Northumbria as a nun and was appointed as the Abbess of Hartlepool Abbey a year later.

In 657 Hilda became the founding abbess of Whitby Abbey, then known as Streoneshalh; remaining there until her death. Her abbey was chosen as the venue for the Synod of Whitby in 664 at which the majority of the Northumbrian Church adopted the Roman method of calculating the date of Easter.

This page is part of our project "Revealing St Alban's Hidden Heritage" supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.