St Andrew’s in Trent is a truly sumptuous parish church on the Dorset and Somerset border not far from Yeovil. It is like a museum of fine art in a parish church and keeps drawing me back. There is a plethora of interesting furnishings from a superbly carved chancel screen (supposedly by the monks of Glastonbury), to a set of exquisite pew ends, which survived the various reformist iconoclasms, despite their highly catholic images.
My visits always commence with the East Window, however. It’s collection of Swiss and German panels of stained glass would not be out of place in a museum collection. The panels were bought by the pragmatic rector of the church, Mr W. H. Turner, in the nineteenth century. They originated from St Gallen, Wettingen and Cologne, and came on the market following Napoleon’s secularisation of religious buildings. They probably arrived in England through the Norwich glass school and were then distributed through auction. You may remember I wrote about the Mariawald glass in 2020, in the V&A, which arrived at Ashridge through similar circumstances.
There is no specific programme to the window as the glass was not designed to be installed here. This is unusual, in itself, for an east window to be comprised of fragments such as this. Of the many pieces of assorted shapes and sizes assembled is a large scene of Christ the gardener in Gethsemane, a crucifixion, St Margaret, a secession and Mary, Queen of Heaven. There is also a ground of medieval inspired grisaille and the large number of small panels are assembled into a collage of heraldic devices, grotesques and cornucopia.
St Andrew’s has other examples of the nineteenth century stained glass, all of high quality including the twelve Apostles in the chancel and a Christ in Glory, (1871) designed by the Irish artist Michael O’Connor, which is unusual in this area. Dorset has very little early glass but there are a number of fragments of C15 glass high up in the West Window including this fine Tudor rose. The stained glass at St Andrew’s has drawn me back to academia as I have started researching this church in greater detail.
Glass images courtesy of Holywell Glass Ltd.
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Most fascinating church I look forward to your further research into the history of Trent Parish Church