During the Coronation celebrations over the weekend a number of people admired the pane of glass set up in front of the altar. Fr Richard provisded a brief explanantion, but there were still a few questions which this short article will hopefully answer.
The glass came from a window in the Annexe set up in front of Westminster Abbey for the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The annexe was designed by the architect Eric Bedford, under the guidance of the Director of Architecture Sir Hugh Casson. It was commisionned along with a number of decorations around London especially for the coronation and work began in December 1952:
The final building housed an area for gathering for the procession into the Abbey as well as robing rooms for the participents.
The front of the annexe had statues of “The Queen’s Beasts”
The windows on the front of the building contained symbols from the four countries of the United Kingdom, including the shamrock depicted on the glass panel we have, a rose, a thistle and a leek
After the 1953 coronation the window panes were available for the public to purchase and Betty Arnold applied for one. She had wanted one with a rose but they had all been taken by the time she applied.
Once in her possession she had it framed, as it is today, and positioned it in front of one of her lounge windows.
Betty lived in a bungalow in Old Woosehill Lane and one has to assume she was there when she bought the pane and there it remained for 50 years or so until she decided to move into sheltered accommodation.
At that point she offered it to St Paul’s, either to be displayed in the church or the parish rooms.
At the time of the donation both properties had suffered some nasty burglaries and vandalism and therefore no decision was made as to where the window should be displayed and as other more pressing problems arose, the display of the window was overlooked.