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New windows unveiled at Westminster Abbey to mark Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Stained glass designed by the British artist Hughie O’Donoghue

Artist Helen Whittaker works on the new windows in the Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey

To mark the 60th anniversary of the coronation of the Queen last month, two new stained glass windows were unveiled at Westminster Abbey. The windows were installed just in time for a ceremony attended by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and members of the Royal Family, along with a congregation of 2,000 people, some of whom took part in the coronation on 2 June 1953. The windows flank the central east window of the Virgin—in the traditional mandorla of golden light, with the moon at her feet and wearing a crown of 12 stars—made in 2000 by Alan Younger.

The new windows have been designed by the British artist, Hughie O’Donoghue, and consist of 50 panels each. These are predominantly in hues of white and blue and represent in a quasi-abstract manner lilies and stars, symbols of the Virgin Mary, and fleur-de-lis, a monarchical emblem. Small, random touches of burnt sienna, suggesting the lilies’ pollen, catch the eye.

The windows were made by Helen Whittaker of Barley Studio in York, who is also a visiting tutor to the Prince of Wales’s School of Traditional Arts. The artistic criteria of the windows were to respond to the Younger window, to reflect the chapel’s dedication to the Virgin, and to make the three windows iconographically and aesthetically coherent.

The windows were a gift of Lord and Lady Harris of Peckham (Lord Harris was the former carpet retailer, Philip Harris), who were also the donors of the Younger window and who, earlier this year, gave the portrait of Her Majesty contemplating the abbey’s Cosmati pavement, The Coronation Theatre: Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2013, by the Australian-born, London-based artist Ralph Heimans. The new windows are part of a long-term project to reglaze the chapel’s remaining eight windows.

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