The Pilgrim window

In the north-west corner of the church there is a tiny but very special stained glass window which we have tendedto call the 'Pilgrim Window' recognising in it the symbols of a mediaeval pilgrim.  However, recently we have been told that the window depicts St James the Great whose symbol is the scallop shell and whose shrine at Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain was in mediaeval times - and indeed still is today - an important place of pilgrimage for Christians.   It is believed that the remains of the saint are buried there and various routes known as Camino de Santiago or the Way of St James lead to the city from all over Europe.

St James, Patron of Pilgrims


In paintings and stained glass, St James is often depicted as a pilgrim and there are many examples of him as such in English churches.

The mediaeval pilgrim is recognised by the following attributes: staff, scrip [pilgrim pouch], hat, scallop shell (often on the hat) and drinking gourd.  The image in this window shows the attributes of the hat and scallop shell.  It also has the attribute of the staff- astaff which has a prong or hook on it.   This appears in some images of the saint and was for hanging the gourd or the scrip on, although neither of these appear in our window.

The figure also carries a book which St James is sometimes shown as holding representing no doubt, The Word of the Gospel.  Other apostles are also shown with a book or scroll but the book in combination with the staff and scallop shell makes the identification of this window as depicting St James, very persuasive.

with thanks to Michael Mooney of the Confraternity of St James for his thoughts on our window.