2015 ‘Family Tree of Life’ , Sulhamstead Abbots
‘You are the Vine, we are the branches’
The first thing that struck me about this St Mary’s church in Sulhamstead Abbots near Reading was the feeling that it was cherished by the people that use it. It’s an undeniably beautiful 12th century church, complete with an 11th century Romanesque font, beautiful painted altar frontal and reredos by Ninian Comper and a fantastic wood- beamed interior.
The church decided to commission a 21st century art work to be dedicated to the Glory of God and in memory of the family of Ron Ponting – the kind and enthusiastic donor.
The design takes its inspiration from a medieval form used in stained glass to represent the genealogy, or family tree, of Jesus. This normally shows successive boughs, or generations, growing upward from the base until finally flowering in the person of Christ. The idea of the family tree, both natural and spiritual, is also informed here by the position of the window overlooking the baptismal font just inside the main entrance. It is located at the point of both spiritual and physical entry to the church family.
Its exuberant colours echo those found in other windows and express a joyful celebration of ‘family’ in all its forms; remembrance of past family, celebration of the present and hope for relationships yet to flower. In the centre, the fabric of the church forms the trunk of the tree.
The window was installed in December 2015 and dedicated by the Bishop of Reading in a very enjoyable service complete with brass band! I hope the church family enjoy the window for years to come. Special thanks are due to Ros Coulson, the church warden, without whom the project would not have been possible.
Click below for two short films following the progress of the window;