St Matthew Window: The Big Give

This image displays a close up seen in the St Matthew's window at Liverpool Cathedral.

A blog from Canon Val about the St Mathew window.

I wonder how often visitors take a really good look at the windows in the Cathedral? They are not the easiest windows to understand but if we look closely there is a lot of information to discover.  

The stained glass in Liverpool Cathedral all dates from the 20th century. The designs were planned by a committee working in conjunction with the architect of the cathedral, Giles Gilbert Scott, with the intention of forming an integrated scheme throughout the cathedral. Several stained-glass designers were involved in the scheme, but the major contributors came from James Powell and Sons (Whitefriars Glass), in particular J. W. Brown, James Hogan, and Carl Edwards 

John William Brown (1842-1928) was born in Newcastle on Tyne and trained there until the 1860’s when he moved to London to work for Morris and Co before joining the staff of William Powells. He became a freelance artist in 1886 but continued to work with Powells as their preferred designer for special projects such as Liverpool Cathedral.  

There are four main windows in the choir aisles, two on each side, and they are concerned with the four Gospels. The windows on the north side are original, but those on the south side were destroyed by bombing and were renewed. Each window, known by its predominant colour, shows the author of the gospel at the top with his symbol. Below are figures linked with the subject matter of the gospel. The windows also contain allusions to the distinctive aspects of each Gospel. The windows on the north side are by J W Brown, (Whitefriars 1913) The original window was referred to as 'The Window of Wonder'. The window in common with the three choir windows represents “the Glory of Christ in Heaven and the Manifestation of the Power of Christ on earth”. The left window known may be found behind the Canon Stalls and represents Saint Matthew. On the left-hand lancet, it shows a depiction of the Nativity with the shepherds after their vision of the angels. Below are two angels holding a scroll with the words “God with us. In the right-hand lancet, we see the Epiphany with the visit of the Magi bearing their gifts. In the background of the subject, we can see the flight into Egypt. Below are the angels holding a scroll with the words “Thy light has come”.  

The Book of Liverpool by Vere Cotton gives a very concise description of the symbolism in the Matthew window. In the upper section of the window, we can find the Evangelist, St Matthew, with the subjects shown behind him peculiar to his Gospel: the massacre of the holy Innocents; The parable of the 10 virgins; and the Dead rising from their graves at the crucifixion. The symbol of St Matthew is the angel. 

The large figures above the subjects are as follows: - King David, Isaiah, Abraham and Micah. These subjects are chosen as they all have references to the birth of the Saviour. The hardest iconography to interpret is in the side sections of the window. You need to look very closely, maybe with binoculars, to be able to see small figures in the yellow and grey scrolls.  


The left hand light.                                                                 The right hand light.  

LEFT:                                     RIGH:                                        LEFT:                                                      RIGHT:  

Angel holding a scroll.      Angel with pen and book.      Angel with Staff and Wallet.         Angel with Star.     

The death of Abel.            The expulsion from Eden.       St Simeon with the child Jesus.    Jesus in the Carpenter’s shop  

Samuel as a boy.               St Timothy as a boy.                 Isaac.                                                Jacob. 

The inscription at the base of the window reads: 

Sir Alfred Lewis Jones, K C M G 1845 -1909. The badge of The Order of St Michael and St George is displayed at the foot of the window. The order is awarded for non-military service in a foreign country. 

In 1910 Sir Alfred Lewis Jones', sister Mrs Pinnock gave a gift of £1,000 for a window in his memory. Those requesting windows in memory of a person were required to not only pay for the window but also subscribe a 'substantial sum to the building fund' (Oct 1904). In the first week of William Forwood's canvassing for funds Alfred Jones donated £10,000 to the building fund.  

Alfred Jones was the son of Daniel and Mary Jones and born in Carmarthen. The family moved to Liverpool when he was two years old. At the age of 12 he was apprenticed with the African Steamship Company. He later started his own business with three small sailing ships. In 1891 he took up a managerial post with Elder Dempster Shipping Line, He eventually controlled the business. He was well known in Liverpool for his Philanthropic works. He lived at 'Oaklands' in Aigburth and is buried in Anfield Cemetery. There is also a memorial to Sir Alfred at the  Pier Head. 

Unfortunately, some of our beautiful windows are in need of care and restoration. The St Matthew window has several holes in it. After the success we had with the Big Give Christmas Campaign 2020 we are delighted to announce we shall be taking part in The Big Give Christmas Campaign 2021 to try and raise £2,500 towards window repairs. This year any donations raised will be to restore our beautiful nativity scene window. The window is in great need of repair and so this Advent please do consider giving to support this work and restore this incredible window.  

The campaign runs from 12 Noon on Tuesday 30th November until 12 Noon on Tuesday 7th of December. During this time any donations made up to the total value of £1250 will be doubled very generously by Bartlett’s Solicitors which would be a fantastic boost of £2500 for the cathedral. This means your £10 donation suddenly becomes £20 so it really is worth doing.   

If you would like to see your donation doubled, please visit the weblink below to make your pledge between 12 Noon on Tuesday 30th of November and 12 Noon Tuesday 7th of December.  

Click here or to visit our Big Give page.

Thank you so much for your generosity it is much appreciated. 

With thanks to Rachael Atkinson White and Roy Redman.  


Canon Val