* * Saint Helen's Church Low Fell * *
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Stained Glass Windows

South Wall (West and Centre)

Manufacturer. Both windows by C.E.Kempe.
Installed. 1903/1904

These are the Glover windows, each a single lancet. William was an Architect and lived at 1,St.Helen’s Terrace, just above the church. During the building of the church he was described as Clerk of Works.

King Oswald

The first window depicts St.Oswald and the inscription reads:

‘Giving thanks to God for 50 years of happy wedded life; William Glover dedicates this window A.D. MCMIV. He was laid to rest with his dear wife in St.Andrews, Clewer 23rd January,MCMXII.’

Empress Helena

The centre window on this wall depicts St.Helen and the inscription reads:

‘Giving thanks to God for the memory of Jane Ann Glover, who fell
asleep at “Meadowcroft”, Windsor on July ixth mcmiii aged lxxii years.
William Glover her husband dedicates this window.’

William was born in Windsor in 1830 and Jane Ann was born in Watford in 1831.
They had one daughter born in 1855 described in 1881 as having no occupation . It would seem that during the process of getting permission to install the first window, Jane Ann died and William decided to install the centre window to her memory. It is known that he retired around this time and presumably he returned to live in Windsor.

William was known to befriend the elderly people of the parish and in addition to the window to celebrate his Golden Wedding he also set up the first benefaction bestowed on the parish.
“That the deserving poor, over 60 years of age, be paid on the 31st December
in each year £1 each to 29 persons in St.Helen’s Parish £1 each to 6 persons in St.John’s Parish.”
Whilst this does not seem a great deal of money by todays standards, at the beginning of the century it would be more than a labourer could expect to earn in a week. The first benefaction was set up in 1903 and was increased by £500 in 1904 which stipulated that the recipients should be paid on 4th March, Mrs.Glover’s birthday.

Both William and Jane Ann are buried at St.Andrews, Clewer, a small village on the outskirts of Windsor. Searches by myself and other parishioners of St.Helen’s failed to locate the grave although we did find the grave of Mary Ann Glover who could be William’s sister.

South Wall (East)

Manufacturer: Morris and Company.

Installed 1900.

A single lancet window.
St.Michael the Archangel. Edward Burne-Jones. Work Book 41.
Full face, leaning on shield, simple binding around head, banner with dove.
Red wings and shield, scarlet banner and greenish gold armour.
Catalogue of Designs, dated 22 August,1900, names the glass-painters as follows: figure by Walters; sky background by Wren.

Michael the Archangel

Inscribed ‘To the Glory of God and in Memory of James and Maria Leathart of this Parish, by their children 1900. Death is swallowed up in Victory’.

James Leathart (1820-1895) the son of an Alston Lead Mining Engineer married Maria Hedley (1840-1899), daughter of Thomas Hedley, soap manufacturer. They lived at Brackendene, Low Fell from 1864 and had a family of fourteen children.

James was Managing Director of Locke,Blackett and Company, a Newcastle lead manufacturing company. He was also a director of the Tyne Steam Shipping Co and of William Cleland and Co., shipbuilders. He was a Justice of the Peace for Gateshead and, from the time St.Helen’s Church opened until his death, People’s Churchwarden.

He has been described as somewhat shy and retiring and he had a lifelong interest in Fine Arts. He was a collector of antique furniture, clocks and blue-and-white Chinese porcelain but it was for his collection of paintings that he is best known. He was strongly influenced in this by William Bell Scott, poet and artist who had been master at the Newcastle School of Art of which James was Secretary. A great supporter of the Pre-Raphaelite movement he commissioned pictures from several of their circle including Edward Burne-Jones. At his death he had assembled one of the finest collections of Pre-Raphaelite art and had works by Millais, Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, Arthur Hughes, Walter Deverell, Edward Burne-Jones, H.H.Emmerson, William Bell Scott,J.W.Inchbold, Albert Moore, Simeon Solomon and others.

Following his death the collection was broken up and many were sold at Christies,London, though an important residue was retained by the family. Many of the works of art were brought together for an exhibition in 1968 at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle.
It is very fitting that this window was designed by Burne-Jones as James was a patron of his early in the artist’s career.

North Wall (East)

Manufacturer: Morris and Company.

Installed 1901.

A single light lancet window depicting a Centurion in red tunic, pale green cloak patterned with gold and lined with dark green. Designed by Burne-Jones (Work Book 58).
Catalogue of Designs dated 21 December,1901 names the glass-painters as follows:
Centurion by Bowman; curtain background drawn by Dearle and painted by Wren; tree-work, scrolls and inscription by Wren.

The Centurion

Inscribed: ‘To the Glory of God and in Memory of William Bell Scott Leathart, Imperial Yeomanry, son of James and Maria Leathart. He died at Bloemfontein 13 March,1901 aged 22 years. Erected by his brothers and sisters’.

One of the youngest of the Leathart family, his godfather was William Bell Scott, friend of his father. He died from enteric fever during the South African War. It would seem that he worked at Heworth
Colliery as another memorial in the church was erected by the officials and workmen of Heworth Colliery ‘by whom he was held in high esteem’. He is also commemorated on the War Memorials in front of the Post Office, Durham Road and in Saltwell Park, Gateshead.

North Wall (Centre)

Manufacturer: Morris and Company.

Installed: 1920.

A single light lancet window designed by J.Henry Dearle depicting Simeon, holding the infant Christ; in green cope lined with orange, over white; scrolled foliage above and below. The entry in the Catalogue of Designs, dated 4 November,1920, names the glass-painters as follows:figure and curtain background by Titcomb; open rosework tree drawn by Knight and painted by Watson; scroll and inscription by Watson.


Inscribed: ‘To the Glory of God and in loving Memory of Joseph Grey of Briermede, Low Fell, who died September 3rd 1918 aged 89 years’.

Joseph was a native of Newcastle and carried on business there as a timber merchant at Chambers Court in Newgate Street, retiring when he was eighty years of age. His father erected several of the buildings in Grey Street as well as some of the churches in the city. Joseph was a Freeman of Newcastle and took a special interest in philanthropic work in the city and Gateshead. He was the last of the original trustees of Jesmond Parish Church, a life Governor of Newcastle Infirmary as well as being connected with many other charitable institutions.

Joseph was married to Mary Catherine and they had one child. They lived at Briermede which was situated at the bottom of Earls Drive. When the house was built in the middle of the last century their nearest neighbours were on Durham Road. It was, before demolition in the 1970’s, used by the Council as a children’s home. The residential estates of Earlswood Park and Briermede Park are built on the site of the house and the gateposts are all that remain of the property.

Joseph was buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery following a service in Jesmond Parish Church. St.Helen’s parish records indicate that he was a regular attender at St.Helen’s from the time the church was built until his death.

North Wall (West)

Manufacturer Morris and Company.

Installed 1920 by public subscription as a War Memorial.

Depicts Christ as Love by Burne-Jones (Work Book 58).
With crown of thorns, rustic cross in right hand, pointing with left hand to chalice at his feet; scrolled foliage above and below.
The entry in the Catalogue of Designs, dated 12 June,1920, names the glass-painters as follows: Christ and curtain background by Titcomb; open vinework background drawn by Howarth and painted by Watson; inscription drafted by Knight and painted by Watson; scroll by Watson. The Sketch Design belongs to Mr.S.L.Berger,Stanford University, Palo Alto, California who visited the church in 1996 and was impressed by the excellent condition of all the windows by Morris.

Christ as Love

Inscribed ‘To the Glory of God and in memory of the men from this parish and neighbourhood who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 whose names are inscribed on the adjacent brasses’.

. Click on the windows for a larger version.




We are most grateful to Sidney Atkinson for providing the information.

The Church on the Bank - a book by Sidney Atkinson

Further information about the history of St Helen's is available in his book "The Church on the Bank" which is available at a cost of £4.00 (plus p&p). If you would like a copy of the book
email the vicar

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