The rose window
The rose window is to the right of the chancel, high on the wall of the sacristy lobby, facing liturgical east. It was the only pictorial one installed at the time of the church's opening in 1878, and like the original patterned windows of tinted glass, was made by George William Luxford.
The central roundel depicts the Tree of Knowledge with a red-winged Satan coiled around its trunk and two owls, symbolic of wisdom, perched in the branches above. There is also what appears to be a bird-of-paradise on the lower right and another brilliant bird on the lower left. 'A SAPIENTIAE' (To Wisdom) is inscribed beside the trunk. Around the main roundel are seven oculi filled with boldly coloured passion flowers and fig leaves. The window has a modern, abstract feel and many people mistake it for one of the church's newer windows, rather than its oldest.
The design was almost certainly the work of the church's architect, William Emerson, as it replicates one of the smaller panels on the pulpit he designed for St Mary's. The owls - there are two more carved on the ends of the sedilia or clergy stalls in the sanctuary - appear to be Emerson's acknowledgement of Woman Wisdom, the female creative force celebrated in the Book of Proverbs:
Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out: "To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live. O simple ones, learn prudence; acquire intelligence, you who lack it...The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth...when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race."
(Proverbs, 8:1-5, 22-23, 29-31)
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