Our Stained Glass Window

All Saints Church Stained Glass window above the altar.

All Saints Church Stained Glass window above the altar.

Stained Glass Window

Louis Blache–Fraser, in his later years in 1987-88, wanted to give something to the
church to commemorate his family’s long involvement with All Saints; his mother Emma
and three sisters had all been very involved with the Church.  After some discussion it
was decided to erect a large illuminated cross on the outside Eastern wall of the church;
it was to identify the building to all who passed by as ‘A Place of God’.

Mr. Michael (Mike) Watson, F.M.G.P.A., an experienced master-craftsman trained in UK,
was commissioned to fabricate and install the cross – an inspired choice, as
subsequent events demonstrated.

In preparing the supporting structure to hold the Cross, he started to chip the wall; a
small piece of glass fell out and he realized that the wall was not solid, but rather that
there seemed to be ‘something behind it’. He called Fr. Christopher and Canon (then
Fr.)  Joseph and they started to investigate what lay behind the ‘wall’.  The date was
June 10th 1987 and, in consequence, the stained glass window was to be discovered,
albeit in a very bad state of repair and, as a later Press Release noted, ‘entombed
between two walls’.  Subsequently, a number of parishioners indicated they had
forgotten the window which, they recalled, had been there during their childhood.

The advice of such persons as Colin Laird, noted architect, Toney Farrell of CEP
Engineering and, of course, Mike Watson himself, was sought and, with the assistance
of the German Embassy in Port of Spain, extensive research revealed that the window
was of German origin. It had been fabricated in 1852, sent to London in 1853, shipped
to Trinidad and installed at All Saints in 1854/55.  It is the only known example of a
German stained glass window in Trinidad and Tobago, described as ‘a massive three-
light window depicting our Lord Jesus Christ, flanked by St Paul and St John’ and
dedicated to the memory of a person known only as ‘Richards’.

It was recalled that the window was covered, probably in 1932, allegedly because boys
from QRC would throw stones at a balata tree over the road, on the Savannah. Stones
missing their target flew across the road and damaged the window. Whether this story
is apocryphal or not, the window was certainly in a very  bad state of repair, with large
pieces of glass missing.  It was eventually covered (entombed!) because it was
unsightly and because the reredos needed protection, presumably from both the rain
and the possible further depredations of the young gentlemen from around the corner.
The church could not afford repairs and no-one in Trinidad was capable of undertaking
such work. Clearly, extensive restoration was necessary and, with the support of a Fund-
Raising Committee established by the Vestry, the necessary $140,000 were raised,
mostly from the congregation.

On July 31st 1987, the Vestry granted permission to proceed and work began on August
3rd.  Four years of hard work by Mike Watson and his team, including Joseph Barath
and Hugh Schamber, and with advice and assistance of the gentlemen noted above,
were needed to restore the window to its former glory.  The German Embassy assisted
with transporting parts of the window to Germany, for restoration work there.  Almost one
third of the glass had to be replaced and tiny spaces remain, for which the necessary
glass could not be obtained.

At the Dedication Service, Fr. Christopher led the congregation in this prayer:  ‘O Lord
God, the whole world is filled with the radiance of your glory: Bless the offering of this
window which we now dedicate to you for the adornment of this place and the
inspiration of your people.  Grant that, as the light shines through it in many colours, so
our lives may show forth  the beauty of  your manifold gifts of grace; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.’

Clearly, All Saints’ owes a great debt of gratitude to Mike Watson. Sadly, he died a few
years later, but his assistant, Joseph Barath, has continued the work and is currently
restoring the Holy Rosary Church.  Mike’s papers were given by is mother, Mollie, to UWI
and have been catalogued.