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Feathered Regulars

Updated: Jul 20, 2019


In the same week I have found the latest Margaret Rope of Shrewsbury - Stained Glass Artist of the Arts & Crafts Movement by Arthur Rope, as well as Women Stained Glass Artists of the Arts & Crafts Movement by Peter Cormack published 30 years ago for an exhibition at the William Morris Gallery.

Women Stained Glass Artists of the Arts & Crafts Movement by Peter Cormack

After more research on web pages, I noticed, that Marga and her cousin Tor have a wildlife bestiary that no other stained glass artists of the Arts & Crafts movement seem to have. I will, however, say that I do not have the knowledge of all artwork in the movement and leave this observation open to critics.

Marga’s windows have birds as the regulars of her house! She does not seem to limit their use for just Christian Symbolism either. In her window for her niece and nephew I study further down the page, the black bird, the owl and the woodpecker don't appear to be presented as 'baddies' as they typically are in Catholicism (The blackbird represents the darkness of sin (black feathers) and the temptations of the flesh (its beautiful song). Once, while Saint Benedict was praying, the devil tried to distract him, appearing as a blackbird. St. Benedict, however, was not fooled, and sent him on his way with the Sign of the Cross -

The black contre-jour (silhouette) of medium size birds just above horizons or behind figures (seen at St Peter and St Paul in Newport, Shropshire), a few flights of white doves or flocks of other birds may have meaning I am not aware of (seen in the Visitation window in Shrewsbury Cathedral).

Flights of birds - Visitation window Shrewsbury Cathedral (tail's end black common gull, ochre wings song thrush)

An example of contre-jour

Just one contre-jour before branches

My photo taken of a contre-jour

Today as I am writing this post, I also took a photo of the contra-jour of a dove 

Earlier this year, I spotted a mockingbird in her Visitation Window in Shrewsbury Cathedral.

From that day I read all of her windows searching for birds or wildlife.

I wanted to identify the wildlife she painted in her windows to open later choices for the workshop or design of our window for Shrewsbury Museum.

After my reading of the books mentioned above, I believe that her cousin Tor took much inspiration or shared much of Marga’s interest in painting animals of Great-Britain’s fauna or wildlife of other countries in the artwork.

In one of Marga’s earliest works entitled Goblin Market (inspired by a poem by Christina Rossetti) an Australian Grass Parokeet stands in the left top corner as well as a blue tit hiding amongst a trees leafy branches.

Australian Grass Parokeet depicted in Marga's 'Goblin Market' window

The most dazzling of her birds statements is in The Benedicte window at the Church of Our Lady, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire. Given in memory of Herbert and Teresa Vaughan, her niece and nephew, both of whom died in childhood and are depicted in the window. Had she spent time studying birds with them?

The Benedicte window at the Church of Our Lady, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire

In Marga’s artwork a bird story kept building parallel to all other themes she worked with.

In St Winefride’s window, Newport, the birds truly have a meaning in the landscape. A dipper by the well, a lesser redpoll in the wooded leafy background and a kingfisher (another bird of waters or a solitary bird) appearing by her arm in its flight.

St Winefride’s window, Newport


More of her artwork to study maybe in the near future, considering her windows have many feathered regulars.

Turtle doves

Possibly house sparrows

Turtle doves with a dunnock or a small tree finch (Geospiza Parvulus)?


Short-toed lark

In Lanark, St Mary's, Scotland, the Pelican "symbol of Christ feeding its young with its own blood"

A short note:

As my windows refers to collections of Shrewsbury Museum, Charles Darwin’s work being of the collections, I wish even more wish to read a little bit about the Finches of the Galapagos and more than anything else his study of doves/pigeons. ( I photographed many doves in the birch tree I have sketched for the Marga & Collections artwork )

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