St. Alban the Martyr

The St. David Window

(The south lancet in the east wall of the south chapel)

(Temporary picture)

What date is this window?
Between 1888 and 1896; it commemorates a woman who died in 1888 and the stained glass can be seen in a photograph taken between 1892 and 1897. It probably has the same date as the very similar window of St Columba.

Who made this window?
It was made by the firm of Clayton and Bell.

Who gave this window?
Presumably Major Lionel Spens. His wife Eliza Margaret Alsager Spens (née Blake) was the niece of the wife of William Paul Pollock who is comemorated in the St Columba window.

Is there a dedication plaque?
Yes, a plaque beneath the window reads: “To the Glory of God in Memory of Eliza Margaret Alsager Wife of Major Lionel Spens The Buffs East Kent Regt. In peace Oct 22 MDCCCLXXXVIII.”

At the top of the window an angel holds a scroll bearing the text "Holy, Holy, Holy", while at the foot a another angel holds a scroll with the same wording. Between, St David stands in an architectural frame, robed as a bishop in mitre and cope and holding an episcopal staff. On his shoulder sits a white dove, his emblem.

This window is one of six by the firm of Clayton and Bell in this chapel and the ambulatory depicting British and Irish saints; those of St David and St Columba in this chapel are probably the earliest in the series.

St David
Probably born in about 500, David was an eloquent itinerant preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches in Wales, South-West England and Brittany. His monastic rule was austere, requiring monks to pull the plough themselves without draught animals, to drink only water and eat only bread with salt and herbs.

 Around 550, his eloquence against Pelagianism at the Synod of Brefi around 550 (when a white dove is said to have settled on his shoulder) led to his election as primate of the region and he presided at the synod of Caerleon, the "Synod of Victory" which condemned Pelagianism in around 569.

The date of his death is uncertain - both 589 and 601 are suggested - in his monastery in the Glyn Rhosyn valley of Pembrokeshire, where St David's Cathedral now stands. 

Buchedd Dewi - theWelsh Life of St David gives his last words as, "Byddwch lawen a chadwch eich ffyd a'ch credd, a gwnewch y petheu bychain a glywsoch ac y welsoch gennyf i. A mwynhau a gerdaf y fford yd aeth an tadeu idi" - "Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed, and do the little things that you have seen and with me. And I myself will walk the road whither our fathers went." 

"Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd" - "Do the little things in life" is still a well known phrase in Welsh.

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