The North Transept

Here can be found a stained glass window magnificent in its detail and symbolism.  It was designed and executed by Douglas Strachan LL.D of Edinburgh in 1936.

Its theme is Thanksgiving.  In it, praise is seen to come from all creation, both living and inanimate, human  and divine, reaching its climax in the world’s joy at the birth of the Saviour.

At the top of the window, the four elements of   Earth, Fire, Water, and Air are represented in  a marvellously rich composition.  The waters are blue-green;  Mother earth is shown as a rock mass, heaving and thrusting its way out of the waters.  Fire is indicated by  glowing, orange-red flames which shoot up from behind the figure  of Earth.

Finally, Air is visualised in the rays from  sun, moon and stars, which  also represent day and night in their hymn of praise.

Beneath this, and in the centre of the window, Joy and Gladness, are shown as two angels carrying the crowns of thorns and of victory.

The lower part of the window contains a simple scene of the manger of the Nativity, – acting as a counterpoint to the strange scene above of the birth of the Earth from out of the waters- and symbolising Glory to God in the highest from humble humanity.

The window abounds in agricultural and pastoral scenes, as might be expected from one which commemorates a family of agriculturalists, such as the Gilchrist family.

The four seasons are represented in the upper part of the window, by female figures

Spring, with a lamb gambolling at her feet; Summer, with her arms full of flowers; Autumn, holding a sheaf of wheat in one hand and a sickle in the other; while the shrouded figure of  Winter carries a bundle of  bare branches or  faggots.

On either side of the angel group in the middle are small scale representations of a ploughman and beasts of the field, with immediately underneath, two dove-like birds of the air.

The Nativity scene contains kneeling shepherds from the hills of Bethlehem, with a dog crouching behind them, with oxen in the stalls; while flanking it on the right is a harvester with a scythe, accompanied by a female gleaner, and on he left, a shepherd carrying a lamb over his shoulders, followed by a flock of  sheep..

Above all this rich imagery can be seen two composite sentences from Scripture

“O all ye powers of the Lord, bless ye the Lord!   Praise and exalt  Him for ever”

“O all ye beasts and cattle, ye children of men, bless ye the Lord”

The whole window is a marvellous improvisation based upon Psalms 145, and 148, and might even be regarded as a pictorial representation of the Hymn by St. Francis of Assisi “All creatures of  our God  and King”

Painted along the foot of the window is the record “To the Glory of God.  Erected by Marion Gilchrist in memory of  her father William Gilchrist and her mother Margaret Williamson, her brothers, John William and Douglas, and her sister Agnes.

The Gilchrists were a remarkable family.  The father, William, was a prosperous farmer who farmed Bothwell Park with considerable success, while the sons all became pioneers in their different ways in applying science to farming.

John was appointed assistant professor of Agriculture at Glasgow Technical College in 1892, and president of the Scottish branch of the Surveyors’ Institute in 1927.  As an expert valuator, he was also, for many years, agricultural adviser and manager to H.R.H the Princess Louise, Duchess of  Argyll in respect of her Rosneath estates.

Douglas was, in succession, professor of  agriculture at the University College of North Wales, Bangor;  then at University College, Reading; and finally at Armstrong College, Newcastle –on-Tyne(1902)

The actual donor of the window, Dr Marion Gilchrist, was herself a pioneer of  a slightly different kind, as she became the first woman to qualify in Medicine from a Scottish University, graduating  MB.Ch B. at Glasgow in 1894.

Work by designer of this window, Dr Douglas Strachan can be seen in St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Guildhall, London; a series of windows by him were also Britain’s gift to the Palace of Peace in the Hague, Holland.

Nearer  home, Dr Strachan provided the stained glass in the Scottish National Shrine in Edinburgh Castle.