Jesus blessing the children – read by Caroline Haycock

“St Thomas’s has fine stained-glass windows, of which the one you are looking at here in the South Aisle, is ‘Christ blessing the children’ – a favourite with many visitors and children.

These windows, in the north and south aisles, are assigned to the Bromsgrove Guild which was established in 1898 by Henry Gilbert. The guild, part of the Arts and Crafts movement, produced many fine church pieces using traditional methods and materials. This is a particularly fine example produced by the artist Henry Payne and dated around 1911.

It is like a snapshot in time. The angry disciple at the back thinks the children, in the foreground, are wasting Jesus’ time. But Jesus tells him off by just a look and is saying ‘Let the children come to me’. Jesus is shown with a halo above his head that has the symbol of the cross upon it. He is dressed in blue. The woman in the background is almost certainly the Virgin Mary, with baby Jesus in her arms also wearing blue, showing that Jesus was once a child himself with a family.

The children in the foreground are responding to Jesus and offering Him a toy. One little girl is so taken by Jesus she has her arms held aloft, asking to be picked up, and has dropped her toy dolly which is forgotten as she waits for Jesus to respond to her. The whole scene is set in a garden with shrubs and plants.

The window has a commemoration which can be seen on close inspection at the bottom. It was installed in memory of Hugh Sherrard, a long serving vicar of St Thomas’ who steered the church from public governance to a parish church and part of the Diocese of Worcester in 1866. The Reverend Sherrard gave St Thomas’ 50 years of his life and was highly respected.”