Sunday, October 5, 2014

All Saints North Street, York, England

The church of All Saints on North Street in York dates back at least to the 1080s. It's claim to fame is the ancient stained glass windows that offer a great variety of subjects.

The church is situated just across the street from the River Ouse but is laid out in such a fashion that it is hard to get a good exterior picture.

All Saints North Street

View from the other side

Bar view of the steeple

The front sign

The interior has the usual decorations--a nice baptismal font, the belfry ropes, a pulpit.

Baptismal font with pascal candle

Bell pulls

A pulpit from 1675

The church has a central nave and two side aisles along which the stained glass windows are found.


South (right) aisle

North (left) aisle

The north aisle is also exceptional because of the old wooden beams used for the roof.

Medieval beams

The two most famous windows are the Corporal Acts of Mercy and the Pricke of Conscience, both dating from 1410. The Corporal Acts of Mercy window depicts the six works Jesus teaches in Matthew chapter 25: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and visit prisoners. The works are depicted in the tops of the panels and some of the donors are shown kneeling at the bottom of the two side windows.

Corporal Acts of Mercy window (click to enlarge)

The Pricke of Conscience window is based on a 1300s hit poem in Middle English that describes the last fifteen days of the world. Paraphrases of the poem are included in the window underneath each scene but some of the glass pieces have been lost over time. The kneeling donors at the bottom all face right. Originally a statue of Mary was to the right of the window. The story begins just above them on the left with the seas flooding and proceeds left to right continuing in the next higher row until the top right, where the whole universe is destroyed in flames.

The Pricke of Conscience window (click to enlarge)

The window in the Lady Chapel was originally the East Window over the main altar. Jesus's crucifixion is in the center and would have been directly over the altar. Medieval churches in England didn't have crosses behind the main altar and often used stained glass to represent Jesus's ultimate sacrifice.

Lady Chapel window (click to enlarge)

By the Lady Chapel is a gilded statue of Our Lady. Other statues are scattered throughout the church.

Our Lady

An ancient monk?

King David

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