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Houldsworth Window

Click on an area of the window to see more detail of that area

Dr Walter McGinty produced an excellent compendium of the Alloway Church Windows – “Through a Glass Brightly”. With regard to this window he comments “The elaborately designed chancel window is full of clever symbolism that is not always immediately discernible.” He then describes the lower half of the window and the top cinquefoil but leaves the two quatrefoils to our imagination.


The window can be viewed as four layers and the bottom two layers divide into Old and New testament themes. The upper two layers appear to be more “heavenly” in Nature, at the top Christ is shown enthroned and below that are a variety of angels along with 22 characters.

Starting with the bottom layer this comprises six panels each representing women from the Bible with virtues shared by Sarah Abercrombie, according to her husband.

The next layer in the window shows, in the left half, Moses raising a brass serpent on a pole to cure the Israelites of snake bites. The image is made up in three panels.  This is mirrored on the right hand side by a crucifixion scene, again in three panels.

Moving upwards the next layer becomes more puzzling. It comprises two quatrefoils, in the centre of each are three angels carrying between them a quotation from John's Gospel linking the two scenes below – those on the left carrying a banner proclaiming “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness” and those on the right a banner completing the quote “even so must the Son of man be lifted up”.  The Angels on the left are multicoloured whilst those on the right are dressed in white, though the poses of the angels are identical. Between the two quatrefoils is an angel holding alpha and omega symbols – there are two other pairs of alpha and omega symbols in other windows in the church.  Below the quatrefoils the decoration includes four more angels.

The top layer of the window shows Christ enthroned in Heaven in circular frame with a cinquefoil opening around the frame are eleven angel faces with associated red wings. In this case it is not too difficult to imagine that these represent the “eleven that went to heaven”, though that doesn't seem to be the thinking in the quatrefoils in the layer below.

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