The Lady Chapel Window: The Holy Innocents
What date is this window?
After 1884 and no later than 1895; possibly 1891. It is present in a photograph taken between 1892 and 1897.
Who made this window?
It was made by the firm of Clayton and Bell.
Who gave this window?
It was given by James Samuel Pollock, first priest of the parish, and his brother Thomas in memory of their sister Anna; it also commemorates other Pollock siblings.
Is there a dedication plaque?
Yes, a brass plaque beneath the window reads: “To the Glory of God in Memory of Anna Elizabeth eldest daughter of Samuel Pollock Major late 43d L(ight) I(nfantry) and Katharine Jane his wife. In peace on her birthday Feast of the Holy Innocents Dec, 28 MDCCCLXXXIII.”
Although ideally suited to become a chapel, the eastern extension of the south transept originally had no altar and was and area of extra seating facing the nave at the time when this window was installed. It was here that the Sunday School children sat in the early years of the church.
This window is primarily a memorial to Anna Elizabeth Pollock (28 December 1817 - 28 December 1883) the elder sister of James and Thomas. It also commemorates five siblings of Anna, James and Thomas who died of typhoid fever as young children before James and Thomas were born after which their parents vowed that their next child born (James) would be given to God's service.
Anna has left an interesting diary of events concerning St Alban's Mission from its start in 1865, when she visited Birmingham and assisted in the decoration of the first temporary mission church on Leoplod street, until 1872 after the opening of the first 'permanent' church on the corner of Leoplold Street and Dymoke Street. In 1877 she and her brothers sold Strathallan House, their family home in the Isle of Man, and Anna moved to Birmingham to keep house with her brothers.
At the top of the window, two trefoils contain cherubs. The three main lancet lights are each divided into panels by architectural details and at the top of each lancet an angel bears a scroll with the words "Holy, Holy, Holy".
The middle and top panels of the central lancet relate to the main theme of the window - the Holy Innocents - the children slaughtered by King Herod in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus. Their feast day, 28 December, was Anna's birthday and also the day she died. In the middle mothers weep over their dead infants, while above the souls of the children are received in heaven. An inscription at the bottom of the window runs across all three lights: "Thy work shall be rewarded saith the Lord and they shall come again." This is a shortened version of Jeremiah 31:16: "Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy." This is a more comforting message than the previous verse, "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.”, which is quoted in Matthew's Gospel as a prophecy of the massacre of the Holy Innocents.
The remaining panels all relate either to the name Anna (in one of its forms, Latin Anna, Hebrew Hannah or Anne), to Elizabeth, Anna's second name, or to her role as elder sister.
See the descriptions of the individual panels of the window for enlarged views and more information:
- Upper left panel: Miriam watches as Pharaoh's daughter discovers Moses
- Lower left panel: Hannah presents Samuel to the Temple at Shiloh
- Upper central panel: The souls of children are received in heaven
- Middle central panel: Mothers lamenting their murdered children
- Lower central panel: St Anne teaching Mary
- Upper right panel: The Prophetess Anna see Mary present Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem
- Lower right panel: Mary meets Elizabeth, the mother of St John the Baptist
This page is part of our project "Revealing St Alban's Hidden Heritage" supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.