Ludlow Palmers
helping to conserve the fabric and treasures of St Laurence's
The Golden Window

The ‘Golden Window’ otherwise known as the Paternoster, Salutation or Annunciation Window, is one of St Laurence's ‘Catechism Windows’ and is considered to be the finest in the Church.

The window was almost certainly erected in memory of John Parys, the wealthy draper who was Warden of the Palmers' Guild from 1442 to his death in 1449. Portraits of the donors and their children at the base carry the incomplete inscription ‘Katherine his wife caused this window to be made’. This dates the window to the early 1450s.

The window was restored in 1876 in memory of the Rev Robert Meyricke, but its original composition remains intact and it contains a large proportion of ancient glass. The spectacular golden colour is due to the use of silver nitrate in the glass, a very expensive technique.

The window tells a single story with a specific Ludlow context. The glass in the four traceries at the top depict heaven with, in the third from left, God the Father holding his son Jesus who he is about to send down to earth. The recipient is the Virgin Mary in the top right-hand main panel, who sits beneath a shaft of light coming from God above.

The central panel shows the Angel Gabriel with a scroll containing the text of The Ave Maria. The left-hand panel depicts Christ the King with his orb and sceptre. Beneath this is the text of the Lord's Prayer. The lack of a pictorial accompaniment perhaps denotes the literacy and high status of the donors and the Guild members.

The bottom three panels add the Ludlow context with three locally venerated saints. The central panel depicts St John the Baptist holding a lamb — the ‘Lamb of God’ image of Christ contrasts with Christ the King above — and in the background there is a hermit. In the legend of St Christopher it is a hermit that instructs the Saint to carry the Christ-child across a stream: right-hand panel. St Christopher, as patron Saint of travellers was important to the merchant guild of the Palmers.

The left-hand panel depicts St Catherine who was a very popular Saint in the medieval period, not least in the Marches. The south transept of St Laurence's was, and is, dedicated to her as was a Chapel which once stood on Ludford Bridge. In the early 15th Century this Chapel was occupied by Thomas the hermit, an unseen reference to the adjacent panel, maybe. A further link to the Palmers' legend is another that their supposed founder, Edward the Confessor, gave a relic of ‘St Catherine's oil’, which he had brought back from Mount Sinai, to Westminster Abbey when he founded it.

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