Much of the information contained on this website has been drawn from the excellent guidebook to St Cynllo's written by Rev. Brian Whatmore - this lovingly written and scholarly guide is highly recommended for those who would like to learn more about the history of this beautiful Church.
Copies of the guidebook
are available at the
Over the past few months the east window has undergone major cleaning and renovation.
During the process it has been possible to obtain close-up detailed photographs of the window (possibly for the first time) which, combined with the cleaning away of decades of grime and mould, have revealed a wealth of hitherto hidden detail.
Over the next few months we will be adding photographs to this page and explaining the significance and meaning of the many figures and symbols incorporated in the window.
Over a period of many years a combination of dirt, mould, cobwebs and dust had built up over the entire surface of the window, and in some areas had formed a hard deposit on its surface. as the window is largely painted (a technique whereby a special glass paint is used to make the images which are then fired in a kiln to form a hard enamel-like finish) no abrasive or chemical cleaners could be used - the only safe way to clean the window was to first use a very soft brush to remove loose dirt and cobwebs (not a job for anyone afraid of spiders!) then to use distilled water and cotton wool to gently soften the dirt to the point where it could be safely dabbed off the surface - it was a long, careful, and painstaking process!
Some before and after images which show the scale of the problem.
These are images of two of the Nine Orders of Angels
positioned at the very top of the window.
Below is a composite image showing their relative positions and some close-up photographs with details.
The most influential Christian angelic hierarchy was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 4th or 5th century in his book De Coelesti Hierarchia (On the Celestial Hierarchy)
Pseudo-Dionysius and Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica) drew on passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, to develop a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs
The Nine Orders of Angels as depicted in the East Window follow this medieval Christian classification
4 Dominions or Lordships
5 Virtues or Strongholds
6 Powers or Authorities
7 Principalities or Rulers
The first sphere angels serve as the heavenly servants of God the Son incarnate.
Seraphim (singular "Seraph") is literally translated as "burning ones". They are mentioned in Isaiah 6:1-7 and in the Book of Revelation (iv. 4–8). Seraphim are the highest angelic class and they serve as the caretakers of God's throne and continuously shout praises: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!
In the vision as decribed by Isaiah, the Seraphim have six wings covered with eyes - "Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings." The Seraph in the East window is positioned at top left, and is depicted in simpler form - possibly because of the limited space available, but more likely to be an aesthetic choice of the artist designed to keep a more unified scheme to the whole group.
Cherubim (Cherub) - modern language usage has confused the distinction between Cherub as Angel, and 'cherub' as baby or toddler depicted in Renaissance figurative art - they are very different things!
Cherubim guard the way to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24) and the throne of God (Ezekiel 28:14–16)
In Christian iconography they are often depicted holding a Bible protectively, echoing their role as guardians.
The Cherub in the East window is positioned at centre right
Thrones (Greek: thronoi, pl. of thronos), or Elders, are an order of celestial beings mentioned by Paul of Tarsus in Colossians 1:16.
They are living symbols of God's justice and authority, and have as one of their symbols the throne. They are also the carriers of the Throne of God, hence the name.
The Throne in the east window is positioned at top right and is seen holding the symbol of a throne.
Some Christian theologians that include the Thrones as one of the orders describe them as adoring elder men who listen to the will of God and present the prayers of men. The Twenty Four Elders in the Book of Revelation are usually thought to be part of this group of angels.
Dominions (Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16) (lat. dominatio, plural dominationes, also translated from the Greek term kyriotētes, pl. of kyriotēs, as "Lordships") or "Dominations" are presented as the hierarchy of celestial beings "Lordships" in some English translations of the De Coelesti Hierarchia. The Dominions regulate the duties of lower angels. It is only with extreme rarity that these angelic lords make themselves physically known to humans.
The Dominions are believed to look like divinely beautiful humans with a pair of feathered wings, much like the common representation of angels.
The Dominion in the East window is positioned at centre left and is depicted holding an orb - a symbol commonly associated with this order of angels.
Virtues - These angels are those through which signs and miracles are made in the world.
The term appears to be linked to the attribute "might", from the Greek root dynamis (pl. dynameis) in Ephesians 1:21, which is also translated as "Virtue" or "Power". They are presented as the celestial order "Virtues", in the Summa Theologica.
From Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite's De Coelesti Hierarchia:
"The name of the holy Virtues signifies a certain powerful and unshakable virility welling forth into all their Godlike energies; not being weak and feeble for any reception of the divine Illuminations granted to it; mounting upwards in fullness of power to an assimilation with God; never falling away from the Divine Life through its own weakness, but ascending unwaveringly to the superessential Virtue...'
The Virtue in the East window is positioned at far left and is depicted with hands together in prayer.
Powers (lat. potestas (f), pl. potestates), or "Authorities", from the Greek exousiai, pl. of exousia
The primary duty of the Powers is to supervise the movements of the heavenly bodies in order to ensure that the cosmos remains in order. Being warrior angels, they also oppose evil spirits, especially those that make use of the matter in the universe, and often cast evil spirits to detention places. These angels are usually represented as soldiers wearing full armor and helmet, and also having defensive and offensive weapons such as shields and spears.
The Powers are the bearers of conscience and the keepers of history. They are also the warrior angels created to be completely loyal to God. Some believe that no Power has ever fallen from grace, but another theory states that Satan was the Chief of the Powers before he Fell (see also Ephesians 6:12). Their duty is to oversee the distribution of power among humankind, hence their name.
The Power in the East window is positioned at far right and is depicted in full armour holding a sword.
Principalities (Latin: principati) also translated as "Princedoms" and "Rulers", from the Greek archai, pl. of archē (see Greek root in Eph 3:10), are the angels that guide and protect nations, or groups of peoples, and institutions such as the Church. The Principalities preside over the bands of angels and charge them with fulfilling the divine ministry. There are some who administer and some who assist.
The Principalities are often shown wearing a crown and carrying a sceptre. Their duty also is said to be to carry out the orders given to them by the upper sphere angels and bequeath blessings to the material world. Their task is to oversee groups of people. They are the educators and guardians of the realm of earth. They are said to inspire living things to many things such as art or science
The Principality in the East window is positioned at lower centre and is shown holding a sceptre.
Archangel (and arch-angels) It is useful to make a distinction between archangel (with a lower-case a) and Archangel (with an uppercase A).
The former can denote the second-lowest order (arch-angels in the sense of being just above the lowest order of angels that is called only "angels") but Archangel (with an uppercase A) may denote the highest of all the angels Archangels in the sense of being above all angels, of any order.
The seven highest Seraphim, Michael, being the highest of all.
The depiction in the East window is undoubtably that of the Archangel Michael - it is positioned centrally and is the largest and most detailed of the group of angel windows.
Michael has four main roles or offices. His first role is the leader of the Army of God and the leader of heaven's forces in their triumph over the powers of hell. He is viewed as the angelic model for the virtues of the spiritual warrior, with the conflict against evil at times viewed as the battle within.
In his second role, Michael is the angel of death, carrying the souls of all the deceased to heaven. In this role Michael descends at the hour of death, and gives each soul the chance to redeem itself before passing; thus consternating the devil and his minions.
In his third role, he weighs souls in his perfectly balanced scales. For this reason, Michael is often depicted holding scales, as he is in the East window.
In his fourth role, St Michael, the special patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament, is also the guardian of the Church; it was thus not unusual for the angel to be revered by the military orders of knights during the Middle Ages, and it is for this reason that he is nearly always shown carrying a sword and wearing armour.
Angels or malakhim, i.e. the "plain" angels (ἄγγελοι, pl. of ἄγγελος, angelos, i.e. messenger or envoy), are the lowest order of the angels, and the most recognized. They are the ones most concerned with the affairs of living things.
Within this order of the angels, there are many different kinds, with different functions. The angels are sent as messengers to humanity. Personal guardian angels come from this order.
In the East window there are two small triangular lights positioned symmetrically at bottom centre which depict this lowest order of angels. The design very cleverly, and very beautifully, indicates that this order of angels visit humanity by showing a night sky with stars behind the angel - these are the only angels in the window with this visible indication of the earthly realm.
This meticulous attention to the smallest detail is very typical of the designer JH Powell - remarkably so when it is impossible to see this level of detail from the floor level of the Chancel below - Truly meant 'For The Glory of God'