The Piper Window
A special treasure of St Peter’s is John Piper’s Palm Sunday Window, the third on the south side of the nave, to the left of the door as you enter. On bright days the sunlight streams through the vivid blue, gold and green tones so favoured by this artist. The window is illuminated from dusk until 11.00pm all year.
The window was funded from a bequest made by the late Alderman C.J.V.Bellamy, Hon. M.A., J.P. and Mrs Maud Emma Bellamy his wife. To their great sadness the couple had been childless. They left £1000 for a memorial window which should relate to the text “suffer the little children to come unto me.”
Initially the District Church Council considered traditional designs from a number of studios for the window at the east end of the north aisle. However, John Piper agreed to visit the church, advising us that the proposed window was not sufficiently sound. He offered to design for a window on the south side with the available resources. In his opinion, the proposed text was an artistic challenge. As a compromise, he suggested the Church consider how children responded to Jesus offering the examples of the boy with the five loaves and two small fish, or the children who greeted him as he entered Jerusalem. The DCC and the executors both liked the latter suggestion so the commission was put in hand.
The window was made by Patrick Reyntiens who had worked with John Piper on the Baptistery window in Coventry Cathedral. On Whit Monday 1976, the Parish outing visited his studio in the Chilterns to see the work in progress. Some changes to the design (palm branches and waving hands of all sizes, sexes and colours) were discussed and included in the final version. The adult-sized green hand and arm grasping a palm branch was extended horizontally from left to right to link both lights in the window. Piper drew the outline of his sons’ hands as the design for the child-sized hands at the bottom of the window.
The window was installed by Mike Stockford, who was churchwarden together with Dr Desmond Walshaw that year. It was consecrated by the Rt. Revd. Peter Walker, Bishop of Dorchester at the Patronal Festival Eucharist on Monday 29th June 1976 in the presence of the Revd Michael Ottaway, Vicar of St Peter’s, John Piper himself, the churchwardens and a large congregation. This inaugurated a week long festival of music, dance, drama, horticultural and historical exhibitions and more works, prints and ceramics by John Piper. We our proud that our window sits alongside the Piper windows in other Oxfordshire churches, at Nettlebed and St Mary the Virgin, Iffley.