The church must have had stained glass in all its windows in the Middle Ages for John Lucas, in his 18th Century description of St Oswald’s, recorded that in the early 18th century there were fragments of painted glass in all of them ‘yet not one figure or inscription entire’. He thought they should be taken down and the whole reglazed, and it seems that this happened. It was not until 1856 that glazing with stained glass began again, and within forty-five years all were filled with memorial glass. This was largely due to two families, the Boldens of Hyning, and the Sharpes of Linden Hall, Borwick, who between them gave eleven of the sixteen windows. The lion’s share of the work of making the windows was entrusted to a single stained glass firm, who made all but four. Henry Hughes (1822-83) became a partner with Thomas Ward in about 1852 and was their chief designer. He also produced windows under his own name, including some Warton windows. On Hughes’ death in 1883 a relation, T.F. Curtis, took over the firm and most of the windows were designed by George Parlby in a quite different style. We take the windows in order, starting with the East Window above the altar and moving clockwise round the church.
(1)The East Window is unsigned but is probably by Hughes. It was a memorial to John and Mary Bolden of Hyning and dates from 1856. The background is of round clear quarries and there are five figures. In the centre is Christ in the act of blessing, and he is flanked by the four gospel-writers, each with his traditional symbol – the human figure for Matthew, the lion for Mark, the ox for Luke and the eagle for John. Below are the other symbols for them, the money bag under Matthew, the palm under Mark, the pelican feeding her young with her blood under Christ, a palette and brushes under Luke, and a chalice under John. In the tracery is the Hebrew name for God JHVH, the brazen serpent and the scroll of the Law, with the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, Moses and Aaron and four kings, David, Solomon, Rehoboam and Josiah.
(2)The window in the south of the sanctuary is one of the latest dating from 1895. The work of Ward and Huges in the time of Curtis, it represents the meal of Emmaus after Christ’s resurrection. It was one of the five windows given in memory of members of the Sharp family all within six years.
(3-5)The three windows of the Lady Chapel. These three windows are by Henry Hughes. First is the memorial to Mary Dean, wife of the vicar, who died in 1862. It represents the virtues of faith, hope and charity. The other windows are in memory of husband and wife, William and Jane Sharp and date from 1861 and 1857. The first is of the Ascension and the parable of the Good Samaritan, the second of Christ appearing after his resurrection to Mary Magdalen and the parable of the wise and foolish virgins.
(6)The first window in the south aisle is very attractive and is undoubtably by the excellent Lancaster firm of Sgrigley and Hunt. It is in memory of two children of the Managerr of the Carnforth Iron Works. Bessie Barton died in 1871 aged 7 and William Barton died in 1883 aged 18. The subjects are the Virgin Mary being taught by her mother Anna, and Timothy being taught by his mother Lois. It is interesting to note the contents of the books, the Song of Hannah in 1 Samuel, and a Roman alphabet.
(7)The second window in the south aisle probably by Hughes, is of brightly coloured vines leaves and texts, and is in memory of Mary Walling; placed here in 1862 long after her death.
(8)The window in the choir vestry is the only one by a local maker, F.Burrow of Milnethorpe and is dated 1862. It was in his memory of Edmund Lawson, and his wife’s name was added later after his death. Burrow was born at Minlethorpe and became a plumer. He learned the art of stained glass in London. After working at Salisbury Catherdarl he returned to Milnethorpe and made windows for a number of churches in the locality. According to his obituary he was an atheist. The window with its lurid colours and course drawing represents Christ talking with the women of Somaria at the well.
(9)The windows at the end of each aisle and the first two in the north aisle date from the 1890’s campaign by Sharps to complete the church’s stained glass. All are by Ward and Hughes in Curtis’s unmistakable style, and the represent Christ blessing sufferes, the virtuos woman distributing bread to the hungry, the Crucifixion and Christ blessing children.
(10)The last window in the north aisle tells of a family tradegy, for it is in the memory of three little children, aged 7, 3 and 4 months, of the Reverand and Mrs George Berkeley (she was a Bolden). They all died at Christmas 1861. The window is by Henery Hughes and again represents Christ with children, and as the Good Shepherd. Perhaps the tradegy affected the artist for the drawing is feeble and sentimental.
(11)The window on the north of the alter is in bright colours telling of the announcement of the birth of Christ to the shepherds and is by Henry Hughes. It is in memory of Thomas Dean, who was vicar when the earlier stained glass was installed and is dated 1872.
(12)Under the Tower is one by Powell of Leeds dated 1872. The figures are those of John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary and the Latin words are: ‘Behold the Lamb of God’, and ‘Behold the handmaiden of the Lord’. It commemorates Frances Berkeley, the bereaved mother of the children who died at Christmas 1861. She died in Mentone in 1887.
(13)The window in the vestry is perhaps the most attractive of all but is now rather lost to sight. Again without doubt by Shrigley and Hunt, it represents the church’s patron St. Oswald with the Celtic saints Patrick and Aidan, richly attired with the family armorials of William Boden of Hyning who died in 1895.
(14)The Millenium Window. By 1895 every visible window was filled with stained glass and inevitably for over a hundred years there were no additions. Only one window was left but that could not be replaced as the organ hid it. Then in the 1990s it was decided to replace this instrument with a digital organ which takes up less room and the window became visible. It was suggested that it might be re-glazed in honour of the Millennium. It is in the northeast corner of what must have been a north chapel but in the 20th century it had been fitted up as a clergy vestry and a wooded screen erected. This prevents the lower part of the window being seen from the body of the church.Nevertheless, the idea was followed up and an artist from York was commissioned. York has always been a centre of the art and since the 1940s when Harry Stammers set up his studio, a number of artists have worked there. Harry Harvey worked with Stammers and Ann Southeran, after attending York College of Art, joined him and is now an associate of the British Society of Master Glass Painters. Ideas were discussed and Miss Southeran took notes. She came back with a striking design taking up the suggestion that the three lights of the window should represent past, present and future. Realising that Warton has a history, she placed in the left light the Crag with its Armada beacon. Then Archbishop Hutton and his school and almshouse; his armorials and the Washington shield tell more of Warton’s history. She noted that the ancient parish lay astride ancient and modern lines of communication between north and south, the ancient road to Scotland, the turnpike, canal, and railway, and finally the motorway. She represented this by a river which would run through all three lights. In the centre it became a scroll bearing the Millennium Resolution:
Respect for the Earth
Peace for its people
Love in our lives
Delight in the good
Forgiveness for past wrong
2000 a new start