On Monday, residents, staff and trustees from St John’s Foundation gathered at the Chapel of St Michael’s Within for Bishop Peter Hancock’s service of dedication to the window.
A church building has stood on the Chapel Court site (adjacent to Bath Thermae Spa) since around 700AD, with the most ‘recent’ chapel, the Georgian-designed St Michael’s Within, just celebrating its 300th birthday; the commissioning of the new window seemed a fitting way of marking this tercentenary.
Designed and created by local company, Bath Aqua Glass, head designer Themis Mikellides explained to guests at the service how he had leapt at the chance of creating such a unique window for St John’s Foundation. And while the window is undoubtedly contemporary, the methods employed remain traditional. “We were able to use naturally occurring minerals found in the waters, such as copper and iron, to create the colour pigments in the glass” he said, “and glass discs were all blown by hand”
The new window proudly depicts both St John’s former incarnation as St John’s Hospital, together with the new St John’s Foundation of today: one panel features John the Baptist, drawing on the chapel’s Christian heritage, while the second panel features St John’s new logo and a myriad of circular discs, symbolising the bubbles within the City’s spa waters.
“The design combines a theme of flowing water over a rectangular grid, which is reflected in the adjacent leaded windows currently housed in the chapel; it has been designed to create a visual sense of balance” concluded Themis.
The resulting window is a striking meld of the old and the new, which also better reflects the ethos of the St John’s Foundation that exists today:
While many people in Bath are aware that St John’s Foundation has been offering almshouse and care provision since the 12th Century, fewer are aware of the organisation’s other charitable activities – last year alone, the charity awarded £2million in funding to local organisations and individuals in need of support. Additionally, their Community Outreach Service Programme, established in 2015, has made real inroads into tackling loneliness and isolation in the community.
Referencing the breadth of St John’s work during the church service, the Bishop urged everyone to show more compassion and love to one another – a timely reminder in current times.
At the close of the service, St John’s resident, Sue Roden, presented a beautiful, handmade cake depicting the new window, which was duly enjoyed by everyone present.
Let’s hope the chapel’s beautiful new window helps shine a light not only on the chapel’s interior, but also on the inequality and deprivation bubbling beneath the surface of our city.