The Four Rivers of Paradise

  The Four Rivers of Paradise

Photo © Martin Crampin

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Four-light window. Each main light is headed by youths pouring water above four scenes representing baptism: Moses striking the rock in the wilderness, the cleansing of Naaman in the Jordan, Peter baptising and Philip baptising the Ethiopian. Angels and symbols of the evangelists in the tracery, with John the Baptist in the uppermost quatrefoil.

technique: stained glass

firm/studio: C.E. Kempe

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Monmouth, Monmouthshire

The window was given by Charles Henry Crompton Roberts, and unveiled on Easter Sunday 1883.

It is illustrative of the originality and quality of Kempe's work in the 1870s and 80s, and also shows how formulaic much of the work of his Studio had become by the turn of the century.

The four rivers that the youths pour out are the Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates. A smaller four rivers window was made for the Church of St Bridget, West Kirby (1889). Adrian Barlow points out that these youths are not angels, but figures perhaps more Hellenic than Christian. Their design is more reminiscent of the work of Kempe's designer Wyndham Hope Hughes, although he left Kempe's employment in 1878.


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Further reading

John Newman, The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire (London/Cardiff: 2000), p. 397.

Margaret Stavridi, Master of Glass: Charles Eamer Kempe 1837-1907 (Hatfield: John Taylor Books, 1988), p. 89.

Adrian Barlow, Espying Heaven: The Stained Glass of Charles Eamer Kempe and his Artists (Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 2019), pp. 603.


Martin Crampin, Stained Glass from Welsh Churches (Talybont: Y Lolfa, 2014), p. 134.

View this object on the Stained Glass in Wales Catalogue

  The Four Rivers of Paradise

Photo © Martin Crampin

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