Three significant commissions of stained glass, installed over the last sixty years, grace the School Chapel: The Seven Ages of Man, by Hugh Easton, were dedicated in 1950; the nine figures of Christ as portrayed by John Piper and executed by Patrick Reyntiens were dedicated in 1956, and the much more recent installation of the windows by Mark Angus, which shed their glorious colours over the north and south naves. Collectively they represent some of the finest twentieth century stained glass in the country.
Hugh Easton designed many windows for churches and cathedrals throughout the country, including windows for the chapel of his old school, Wellington College in Berkshire, the Inner Temple Library, and perhaps most notably, the Battle of Britain Memorial Windows in Westminster Abbey. The series installed in the ambulatory at the east end of the Chapel were dedicated by the Bishop of Peterborough on 17 June 1950, and were designed to be viewed by entering the ambulatory from the south side, moving from the infant in the first window to the old man in the seventh window. In addition to the main image, the windows include many details, some of them witty, some with special relevance to the age of man being depicted, or to those in whose memory it was designed.
In 1955, S. John Woods prophesied over the first designs for stained glass made by John Piper for Oundle School Chapel:. ‘They are extremely vital works; there is nothing quite like them in the contemporary visual arts...and after they are installed in 1956, they are likely to play a part...in a far reaching revival.’
It was, however, the combination of Piper's artistry and the skills of craftsman Patrick Reyntiens which gives the windows their power, and the quality of their partnership is evident in every aspect of the work - from the very start the designs were thought of as something to be expressed in glass. The nine lights of the three windows in the apse show nine representations of the abstract and eternal qualities of the Son of God, shown not only in the figures themselves, but what they hold in their hands. The use of strong colours, and the understanding of the impact of light shining through Piper's designs undoubtedly explains the hushed silence that greeted the original unveiling of the windows by the late Queen Mother in May 1956, and the continued power of these windows some fifty years later.
Commissioned to mark the Millennium, these thirty-six stained glass windows now illuminate the north and south aisles, and the west end porch. The windows are a generous gift from Alexander Patrick OO in memory of his brother Andrew, who died of muscular dystrophy, aged 13, while Alexander was a pupil at Oundle.
The first windows to be installed in the south aisle were blessed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, on 9 September 2002. These windows were designed and made by Mark Angus in collaboration with Katharina Eisch. The last windows to be installed in the west porch were completed in 2005.
The scheme commences on the south side with the Creation story, leading eventually towards the seven trumpets blowing for the vision of the Apocalypse. The windows on the north side tell the story of Man and his Salvation, from the Old Testament through the stories of Adam, Noah and Moses, moving towards the New Testament and the teaching of Jesus, his death and resurrection. Taking leave of the Chapel via the west door, the visitor is accompanied by the images of four angels, two white angels placed at the extremities of the north and south aisles, and two pink angels on either side of the inner doors at the end of the nave.
Finally, there are four windows installed in the porch enclosed between the great west doors and the inner doors, each depicting a saint of the Eastern Church, signifying the links of the Grocers’ Company with the Christian orient. These saints are: St Anthony of Egypt, founder of Eastern monasticism and patron saint of the Grocers’ Company, to whom the Chapel is dedicated; St Margaret of Antioch; St Katherine of Alexandria, patron saint of students; and St George of Lydda, patron saint of England.