ST LUKE'S CHURCH - LIVERPOOL
(The Bombed Out Church)
GLIMPSES IN TO THE PAST
Noted for the 'bombed out' state of St Luke's, it was a known fact that no stained glass had survived the intense heat of the fire. There were rumours of 'fragments' of glass still in situ, but nothing of major interest.
Since the opening of the Church by Urban Strawberry Lunch, I have made weekly visits to the building at different times to discover newly 'found' stained glass.
With the correct position of the sun, and a very steady zoom lens on the camera, the capture of some remarkable pictures have now finally shown the stained glass in all of its glory. Possibly the first viewing for many people in full colour!
THEY TELL A STORY
We start our tour at the interior of the church and follow the weighty looking tower rising through the centre of the brickwork. Still hanging in the tower is the first ever all metal bell frame installed in a church tower in the world.
The pictures show some of the fantastic stonework which has survived and has been cleaned up after the war, when the contrast from the interior of the church to the tower was like black and white.
Following the interior around, we see the stained glass in all its glory, virtually invisible to the naked eye, the use of the latest technology can again bring you close.
To date, there has been very little information found on the stained glass windows, their history, their development and the original plans for the windows. I am convinced that a set of full templates must survive somewhere in the city archives but all we have to go on - which are amazing in their own right, are the contemporary black and white pictures that were sourced by Bryan McCahey.
And of course, the only painting of the stained glass which can be found on the interior page. The question remains whether modern technology would be ever able to correctly 'colour' the black and white images given their intricate design and colourful nature. Some of these glass works are now over 200 years old!
To the left we see the almost plain stained glass, a fragment which is found to the left hand side of the church. Why was this section of stained glass so bare? Was it damaged in WW1 and thus only basic stained glass could be used due to funds?
To the right, we see the entire window. Notice the complete sections on both sides, but the small strips of glass left in situ.
We see more intricate stained glass in this view. This window can be found fifth along on the left hand side of the Church (facing the Altar window). Both fragments of glass are still intact with full use of colour in both sides. This window was next to the pulpit so would have been a well viewed window.
The left hand side part of the church doesn't get direct sunlight so this window would have never 'lit up' from outside, but it is a view that goes almost unnoticed until you stop and look up at the fragments left.
To the left we see the lower portion of the window above. Having walked past this window for months, the lower part of the stained glass appeared not to jump out until one sunny afternoon when I finally noticed them! It goes to show how hard one can look at the Church and still find new images to view!
To the right, we see the window in full. Again, this would have been the window that people would have gazed at while listening to the Vicar at the Pulpit next to it. Maybe this was one of the most elaborate windows for that very reason!
From the 11 windows in the Chancel section of the Church, only the 3 facing altar windows have stained glass left, again, a complete mixture of stained glass from each other. To the left we see the window to the left of the altar window. Two complete fragments of glass remain, of most unusual but colourful design.
To the right, we see a close up of the stained glass fragment which are complete but difficult to see in the narrow space of the chancel. They are certainly a contrast to the other stained glass windows.
We must go back to the original stained glass altar window to see the full loss of the stained glass. To see the sun beat down on this window in full colour when the rest of the church would have been unlit would have been truly stunning.
Viewing the altar window now, two full fragments of glass have remained and very small inscriptions and broken glass surrounds them in alternate windows.
The pictures here show the remaining glass from the altar window above. It is only when one see's the elaborate and colourful window of these small fragments makes one wonder of the view that the black and white picture above would provide in true colour!
Considering this area was directly hit by the bomb, it is a miracle that any glass in this area survived!
To the right of the altar window is another window which has two full pieces of glass still in situ. This time, a circular effect on the stained glass rather than the square effect in the opposite window across the chancel. This window does get full light from the sun and is to be seen at best while standing in the chancel area.
This window has some amazing stained glass and is fully lit up by the passing sun. Again, two near complete stained glass windows at the top, but also, small inserts below which are only apparent on a bright day. The colourful nature of the picture on the right shows the intricate detail that the stained glass shows.
The pictures to the left are also parts of the main window above. These small windows are very difficult to see unless the sun hits them at the right time. They would polish up well and it is only a shame they are not of each access to do so. The wide range of colours in this window shows that the stained glass was of a massive colour variety and not sometimes uniform like some churches.
In a rare chance to get in to the Crypt, this takes you to the other side of the entrance vestible on Bold Place. Here, the discovery was made of Liverpool's oldest Liver Bird in Stained Glass! The picture on the left was taken to show the lack of stained glass - and then out of the corner came the discovery!
The picture on the right shows the Liver Bird, not seen since World War 2!
It has to be noticed that some of the stained glass doesn't appear to be uniform throughout the building.
Where as some of the grandest stained glass can be found at the alter window, there are other fragments on chancel windows which are, if you could describe them as, 'plain'.
There are also more stunning fragments in the main body of the church but then again, further back towards the rear of the church, there are some very basic stained glass - little more than plain glass.
Why are these windows so bare in the main body of the Church? Lastly, it took me many weeks to notice smaller stained glass fragments, a simple clean would reveal their true colours once again!