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17 September 2014
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Divine Art

Stained glass window

Stained glass on show

Pamela Craven
See the beautiful stained glass windows in a church that has a long and fascinating history.

Wilden Church

  • The church of All Saints was entirely paid for by Alfred Baldwin and was consecrated in 1880
  • Alfred was the father of Stanley Baldwin,  a future Prime Minister
  • The stained glass windows were designed by Edward Burne-Jones
  • The east window was given by Alfred Baldwin in memory of his happy married life  
  • Stanley, his only son, is shown in this window setting out on life’s journey accompanied by his guardian angel

The Church of All Saints, Wilden was founded at the height of the Industrial Revolution, a time when Alfred Baldwin had sole ownership of a family inspired business.

The close proximity of a railway and the canal provided a perfect background to the flourishing ironworks and tinning factory.

Alfred was a caring employer who provided holidays and instigated sickness benefits but who also had high expectations of moral behaviour from his employees.

It was this onus of duty and commitment to the well-being of his task force that inspired Alfred Baldwin to provide a church.

Alfred and the Wilden Ironworks were therefore powerful factors in shaping the local social history and the formation of the Wilden village community.

An even more significant factor in producing the unique qualities of the church was Alfred’s marriage to Louisa MacDonald.

Louisa was the daughter of a Methodist minister, George MacDonald.

George himself may have made little impact, but four of his daughters made impressive marriages of historical consequence.

Alice married John Lockwood Kipling, a marriage which produced the famous poet and author, Rudyard Kipling.

Stained glass window

Georgiana married Edward Burne-Jones, the famous pre-Raphaelite artist and Agnes married Edward Poynter, the ‘last of the Victorian Classical painters’ and a President of the Royal Academy.

Louisa married Alfred Baldwin and together they had an only son who was to find fame as a future prime Minister of England, namely Stanley Baldwin.

These illustrious unions moved the industrial Baldwin background into the artistic sphere of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, culminating in the provision of the exquisite church windows in All Saints, Wilden.

The church of All Saints was entirely paid for by Alfred Baldwin and was consecrated in 1880.

It was a brick construction which was originally fitted with plain glass windows.

Between 1902 and 1914, the plain glass panels were replaced with the 14 Burne-Jones designed windows seen today.

These installations took place after the death of Burne-Jones, but the windows were produced from his original designs.

Many were dedicated to members of the Baldwin family emphasising the links between MacDonald, Baldwin and Burne-Jones families.

Stained glass window

The east window was given by Alfred Baldwin in memory of his happy married life;   Stanley, his only son, is shown in this window setting out on life’s journey accompanied by his guardian angel.

The window showing the red-robed figure of Joshua and his trumpeters, crossing the Jordan is a memorial to Alfred.

A window dedicated to Louisa’s sister Agnes, fittingly portrays Saint Agnes holding a lamb.

The unusual window depicting ‘foliage’ is dedicated Louisa, while other Baldwin family members are remembered by the windows named ‘Fortitude and Triumph’ and ‘Enoch’.

The acanthus theme seen in the background of many of the windows is a typical Morris/ Burne-Jones motif.

Other church treasures include an altar frontispiece designed by William Morris and worked by Louisa and Georgiana, altar hangings from Westminster Abbey, (produced for the Coronation of George VI), and the Baldwin Communion Plate, (usually stored in bank vaults).

The silver communion vessels are inlaid with Louisa's gems and were gifted to the church together with an illuminated prayer book of great beauty.

last updated: 14/10/09
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