Sunderland City Council Cabinet Secretary, Cllr Mel Speding, with artists Rachel Welford and Adrian Riley in the Bakehouse refectory at St Peter’s Church

WORK has been completed  to install stained glass windows at Bede’s Bakehouse café at St Peter’s Church in Sunderland, where the first stained glass in England was made in 674 AD.

The 12 new windows mark the completion of a major project to enhance St Peter’s and increase public awareness of the historical importance of the site.

Artists Rachel Welford and Adrian Riley designed and made the windows drawing inspiration from Bede’s book ‘The Reckoning of Time’, written in 725AD, which calculated a 1,253-year cyclical calendar – a forerunner of the western calendar we still use today.

Bede’s observations of the changing seasons, tidal patterns, phases of the moon and the daily passage of time are celebrated in the imagery used in the windows.

Adrian Riley said: “Collectively the windows represent both a whole year and just one hour of time. For Bede, science and Christian faith were intertwined and ‘The Reckoning of Time’ draws parallels between the workings of the natural world and passages in scripture that seek to explain God’s relationship with creation.”
Rachel Welford added: “Just as Bede observed the changes from day to night, the windows change with the light, revealing variations in pattern, shadow, reflection and colour at different times of the day and year and in varying weather conditions.

The first stained glass in England was made at the same historic site in 674 AD after Benedict Biscop, founder of Wearmouth-Jarrow Priory, brought skilled craftsmen from Gaul to create a stained glass window for his new church.