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William Burges’ Rose Window

The rose window high in the west end of the church of Christ the Consoler, Skelton-cum-Newby, dates to the mid 1870s and was made by Saunders & Co. to a design by Frederick Weekes. Christ the Consoler is shown enthroned in a central position in a mandorla presiding over representations of the stages of life on the inner circle and people from all over the world on the outer.

This church was designed by William Burges (1827-1881) for Lady Mary Vyner, in memory of her son Frederick. He had been kidnapped by brigands in Greece during his Grand Tour and, aged only twenty-three years, murdered during a rescue attempt. Lady Vyner had managed to secure a ransom which would ultimately never be paid and she spent the money instead on two magnificent churches, Christ the Consoler on the Newby Hall estate and St. Mary’s, Studley Royal at Fountains Abbey, Burges being the architect of choice for the both. Christ the Consoler’s dedication and design reflect the feelings of a grieving mother and the church is covered in imagery representing her sorrow. The story of the murder is even carved into the stonework around the north, east and south walls of the chancel behind the high altar.

Christ the Consoler sits on the periphery of the Newby Hall estate, near Ripon in North Yorkshire is cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust, open daily for visitors.