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News > Old Girls' News > The story behind the Senior School's centenary window

The story behind the Senior School's centenary window

Upon a recent enquiry from his daughter, we discovered more about the artist Edward Payne, who was commissioned to produce a stained glass window for the School's 100th birthday

Stained glass artist Caroline Swash contacted us recently with a question: "apparently there is a stained glass window in your school that was created by my father in 1981. If by any chance it is still in situ, I wonder whether it might be possible for someone to take a photo of it so that the archive might be complete? I am currently working on his biography; I should add that his father forms part of this story."

The window Caroline describes is located on the ground floor of the Senior School and to the left of the main entrance at the foot of the stairwell. It was commissioned to celebrate the School's centenary, back in 1981, recorded at the time in the school magazine, (below). The window drew inspiration from then Headmistress, Miss Colvile, and the School's historical publication, Graham Street Memories.

Apart from his years at the Royal College, Edward worked with his father (Henry Payne), who today is best best known for his painting of the 'Choosing of the Red and White Roses' in the Palace of Westminster as well as the murals he created for Earl Beauchamp in Madresfield Court Chapel. 

Henry died in 1940, passing on his commissions in stained glass to Edward who (apart from serving with the 4th/7th Dragoon guards in the war), worked in this medium from 1935 to 1990 in his studio in the village of Box in Gloucestershire!

The stained glass window, below, was created by Edward in 1981. Says Caroline, "I do remember him telling me about doing the studies for the daffodils and that he had greatly enjoyed painting them in the window! This was one of about fifty commissions for stained glass windows made between 1935 and 1990, no nonsense about retirement! He died in 1991. 

Fortunately he approved of my intention to write his biography, leaving me his notes and day books as well as a list of all his windows. 

As a young man, he had studied under Sir William Rothenstein  at the Royal College of Art, working in the summer holidays as a mural painter on a remarkable project - a painted compilation of local life on the walls of Wood Green’s Village Hall in Hampshire.

He served in the war with the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards, drawing portraits and making paintings of some of the action. On his return he and his wife and us two children settled in Box, a small village near Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire. 

The house we lived in backed onto ‘common land’ and overlooked the orchard and unused tennis court of Mrs Fyffe (of banana fame) and with her permission my mother arranged to have a studio /workshop attached. Coal hole and kiln as well. So Edward had everything there to run his business!

He was such a wide minded man, with amazing depths of imagination and thought. That a bad firing meant an inept design decision was so very much the way he looked at things. I’m just so grateful that the School has preserved his correspondence!"

With thanks to Caroline Swash for her invaluable contribution about the life and work of her father, Edward Payne, and School Archivist, Clive Bartram.

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