South Aisle Window (East end) by J W Knowles, 1876

The Ascension

Also known as the Burton window, this dates from 1876 and is dedicated to members of local families the Burtons and Hawkings as follows:

‘In memory of Robert and Mary Burton of Linton-upon-Ouse. Erected 1876AD by Henry Burton to the glory of God and in memory of his wife; also of William Henry and 6 children who died in infancy.’

The dedication at the bottom of the right hand light reads:

‘In memory of John and Ann Hawking.’

The window represents the biblical account of Jesus raising his hands to bless the disciples and then ascending to heaven. This took place at Bethany several weeks after his Resurrection. Jesus’ hand gesture with his first two fingers and thumb pointing and last two fingers closed is a sign of blessing and the three open digits have also come to represent the Trinity. If you look at Jesus’ left foot you can see that the wound from where he was nailed to the cross and his identity is also confirmed by his cruciform halo.

The halos surrounding those at Jesus’ feet identify them as saints and at least some can be recognised. The lady at the back on the right hand side is most likely the Virgin Mary who was with the disciples for the Ascension. The figure at the front in red can be identified as Saint John by his clean-shaven and youthful appearance. To his left in the blue the bald head points to that gentleman being Saint Peter. The figures behind them are harder to identify but the somewhat messy hair and beard of the figure on the centre right could well be Saint Andrew.

Either side of the centre light are the two angels mentioned in the Bible who appear to the disciples and tell them that Jesus would return to them in the same way they had seen him leave. At the very top of the window is a quatrefoil light containing a crown surrounded by fleur-de-lys to show that Jesus was ascending to his position at the right hand side of God in the Kingdom of Heaven as part of the Trinity.

John Ward Knowles (1838-1931)

‘The Ascension’ as well as ‘Faith, Charity and Hope’ are the work of York glazier John Ward Knowles.

After leaving school at the age of 12 he enrolled at the newly opened School of Design in York in 1851, winning several prizes for his stained glass work.

In 1858 he moved to London for a year to work for Heaton and Butler, where he developed an interest in photography and architecture. He returned to York in 1863 and set up his own business.

Marriage to Jane Annakin in 1874 produced two sons and four daughters. The sons, John Alder and Milward followed him into the family business of J W Knowles & Sons. Whilst his sons worked alongside him to produce stained glass the workshops produced all kinds of ecclesiastical decoration including embroideries and tapestries produced by his daughters.

Knowles was based in York in Stonegate at the old ‘Sign of the Bible.’ Even after it ceased to function as a workshop for the business in 1953 the property remained the Knowles family home for one hundred and twenty years.