The Windows at the Cross


by Callum Stuart, historian


In 2020, Queen’s Cross Church celebrated the centenary of the main glass window in the East gable. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 break, the congregation couldn’t really commemorate as it deserved. Here goes our homage. 

On Sunday, the 28th March 1920, the congregation at Queen’s Cross first experienced the morning sun shining through the new stained-glass “Rose Window” in the East gable. The Window was designed by Douglas Strachan, R.S.A. and gifted by David Douglas. In the centre is the Great Ark which is surrounded (clockwise from the top) by the Stars, Sun, Day, Air, Water, Earth, Fire, Night and the Moon. The encircling rainbow contains the message-”With Thee I will Establish My Covenant” that is there to symbolise the “Designer’s Presence”. 

The whole work represents Providence-”of design which cannot go wrong”. The ark represents the human race carried on an ocean of time. The mystical vessel moves between the powers of good- 3 choirs of angels-and those of evil - dragons and serpent monsters.


There are two windows on the ground floor which are designed by the same artist, Vanessa Thoms Ohyama. Vanessa was a former pupil of Aberdeen High School for Girls and Edinburgh College of Art. Uniquely, she “found” her husband Yoshira Ohyama through the “Yellow Pages”! After qualifying as a stained glass artist she moved to London in a bid to find an apprenticeship. “It’s very difficult to find that type of work so I looked up the Yellow Pages and asked for a job” said Vanessa. “One of the numbers I called was the studio where Yoshiro was doing commissions for Japan”. The couple became engaged and were married at Aberdeen Registrar’s Office followed by a blessing at Queen’s Cross Church by the Rev. Edmund Jones.



This marks another big celebration: “donated by Mrs Barbara F Gibson on the occasion of her centenary”. Barbara Fiddes Gibson, daughter of local grocer and Wine Merchant Henry Gibson, was born on the 29th of February 1888. Consequently, when she celebrated her “100th year” it was only her 25th birthday! Barbara had been a life-long devoted member of Queen’s Cross Church, where she was one of the first babies baptised and later became president of the Women’s Guild. In her later years she was a resident of Devanah Gardens Nursing Home, officially opening their new wing at the age of 96. She died, in 1991, at 103 years of age. The left panel depicts four doves in an abstract background, two of which are bearing olive leaves (referencing Noah’s Ark). The centre panel depicts a dove of peace (the Holy Spirit) in an oak tree. Underneath the tree there is a young girl beside her mother who is holding a basket with daffodils and also another small child. On the right-hand panel there are four doves, again two of which bear olive leaves. 



This window is “in loving memory of Andrew J M Harper 1971-1976”. Although his life was brought short by leukaemia, the window represents some of the things which had been special to Andrew and his family- a ball and plane in the left hand panel; a kite and a boat in the right hand panel; a child in the centre panel with a songbird in a cage, a cross, some blocks with letters of the alphabet, a guitar, a toy car, some playing cards and a teddy bear. 


The Milne Window

The Scott Window

The Brown Window

The Collie Window

THE MILNE WINDOW (South Balcony West end)

The window is another by Douglas Strachan and was installed in 1904. This highly ornate window displays Strachan's exceptional mastery of the craft of stained glass using many techniques with Norman Slab glass, acid etching and painted work, typical of the Arts and Crafts period. At the very bottom of this window are some stylised flowers, four of which are cut glass, four of which are painted and silver stained. The entire window is heavily painted and makes liberal use of silver stain.

There are two seraphim looking down from the octofoil above the two lancets. The inscription on the left lancet below a musician angel (harp) reads 'I am the resurrection and the life'. Below this Jesus sits at the table of Lazarus being proffered food by Martha. The inscription on the right lancet, below the musician angel playing an organ, reads 'Jesus loves Martha and her Sister and Lazarus'. Under the inscription Lazarus sits at the table with Mary at his knee. In each of the two lancets there are two other figures. At the bottom of the window, the dedication reads across the two lancets 'This window was placed here AD 1904 by William Milne in affectionate memory of his mother Anne Kidd Dunbar who died the 8th of August 1893 aged 90 years and of his sister Barbara Milne who dies the 19th of September 1898 aged 74 years'. William Milne was a Merchant Tailor, living at 40 Albyn Place.

THE SCOTT WINDOW (South Balcony East end)

This window commemorates the life of Margaret Gage Scott. She was born on 18th August 1868 at 50 Victoria Street. Her father, George Jamieson Scott had been Secretary of the India Steam Navigation Company, where he married Mary Anne Duff in Hourah, Calcutta. Subsequently, the family lived at Bayview House on Queen’s Road. It was here that the 19 year old Maggie Scott succumbed to pulmonary consumption.

The window was the work of Ballantynes of Edinburgh, designed by Messrs Shrigley & Hunt, Lancaster and installed in July 1892.

At the top of the two lancets a quatrefoil depicts the Agnus Dei- the Lamb of God. The lancets show the heavenly messenger Archangels Gabriel (left lancet) and Rafael (right lancet). Gabriel is holding a lily, the symbol of purity. Rafael, the angel who reveals to man the light of divine wisdom, is holding an oil lamp. The crowns and the pearls in the border symbolise Heaven. Foliage and conventional ornaments fill the lower parts of the window.

THE BROWN WINDOW (North Balcony West End)

This window was dedicated in May 1911. It is a memorial to Mirna Helen Brown from her husband, Dr Brown of Kenley. Mrs Brown was a member of Queen’s Cross Church, along with her sisters, the “Misses Lowe”. The window is the work of Mr A L Moore, Southampton Row, London.

The octofoil depicts Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the foreground is the kneeling figure of Christ. In the background are seen the sleeping disciples, and in the distance the Walls of Jerusalem.

The two panels represent the Resurrection Morn. Both lancets display canopies and pedestals. The left lancet shows Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Lazarus' sister and Mary Magdalene. The right lancet shows the Archangel Gabriel sitting on the empty tomb, the lily beside him.

The inscription reads 'THE LORD IS RISEN'. The window dedication reads 'To the Glory of God and in memory of Mirna Helen wife of Robert Brown and daughter of Alexander Low died at Kenley Surrey February 7th 1910'.

THE COLLIE WINDOW (North Balcony East end)

George Collie was a well-known advocate in Aberdeen. He entered into partnership with his brother James, the firm becoming that of “Messrs J and G Collie”. Mr Collie was “a strict and energetic man of business, but never showed any desire for public preferment or any ambition to engage in political life, choosing rather to give most of his time to the duties of his profession”. He was an attached member of the Free Church, and was at one time a deacon of Ruthrieston Church. He afterwards became a deacon of Queen’s Cross Church. As far back as 1882, when the congregation was taking shape, he was elected a deacon. On that occasion he declined office, but subsequently he was admitted as a deacon on 16 May 1886, just fifteen years before his death on 15 May 1901.

His only son, George, died at Middleton, Pitfodels in 1872, aged 7 years. He was survived by his wife and 6 daughters who lived on at Balnagarth, Cults.

The quatrefoil shows the Holy Spirit.

The left lancet shows Jesus sowing the seeds (teaching of humanity) 'He that soweth the good seed is the son of man'. The right lancet shows a Reaper angel (showing the way to everlasting life) 'The reapers are the angels'.

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