The following-pieces are the highlights of the Cathedral's amazing stained-glass collection
The Creation by Henry Holiday
This window can be found at the west end of the nave. Set in three lancets, the story of the Creation unfolds. Christ is seated in the upper part of the central light and in His hand is the Universe with adoring Seraphim on either side with words "Let the Heavens rejoice and the Earth be glad." Cherubim with scrolls bear the words "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts."
Underneath this figure is the text “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Below this in the centre of the windows are the six Days of Creation with each day enclosed in a circle. Along the bottom are biblical characters famous for singing; in the centre are Shadrach, Meshek and Abednego in the fiery furnace and in the side lights are David, Deborah, Miriam and Moses.
This work was created in 1903 by Pre-Raphaelite artist Henry Holiday (1839–1927). His earliest stained-glass work was in 1861 for Powell’s Glass Works, but by 1891 he had setup his own glass works in Hampstead. The window at the Cathedral was funded by H T Whithers in memory of his parents and a brother.
Christ in Majesty by Sir Ninian Comper
This window can be found above the Great Screen in the choir. Set across three windows, it shows Christ in Majesty flanked by the Virgin Mary and St John, and surrounded by a flock of doves. This was created in 1948 by Sir Ninian Comper, the famous Gothic revivalist architect and designer of church furnishings.
The Cathedral also contains another window by Comper in the north choir aisle. Examples of his architecture and furnishing work can be found in the retrochoir as he designed the chapels and many of their fittings.
The Baptism of Christ by John La Farge
This window is located in the Harvard Chapel. It shows the Baptism of Christ, referring to the original dedication of the chapel to St John the Baptist and the baptism of John Harvard which happened in 1607 when the Cathedral was the parish church of St Saviour's. It includes the arms of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, which John Harvard attended, Harvard University and the Stuart Royal Arms.
It was created in 1907 by John La Farge who is best known for his innovation in stained-glass design. He brought in the use of flat sheet opalescent glass into the creation of stained-glass and created an original method of layering and welding. La Farge shared his ideas with Louis Tiffany and both applied for patents for the technique of using opalescent glass which led them to fall out.
The window was damaged in 1941 in a WW2 bombing raid. It was reconstructed in 1948.
Rider Window by Lawrence Lee
In the retrochoir, the large three windows on the south side were completed in 1959 by Lawrence Lee. It was given by the family of Thomas Rider whose firm had rebuilt the Cathedral's nave in 1895.
The windows tell the story of the building and rebuilding of Southwark Cathedral. In the top left, it shows the legend of St Mary Overie who founded the nunnery in 606. In the bottom left, it illustrates Bishop Peter des Roches surveying the burning ruins of the priory in 1212. In the top right, it shows Bishop Thorold surveying the new nave in 1895 and in the bottom right, it shows the various people behind the work across the centuries surveying the building.
In the centre of the window are two Bishops, William Giffard who is considered to be one of those responsible for building St Mary Overie, and Edward Talbot, the Bishop of Rochester at the time of the nave reconstruction, looking at the plans. Throughout the window can be found little figures of builders, stone masons and glaziers; there is also a portrait of Thomas Rider.
Lawrence Lee is best known for the stained glass he created for Coventry Cathedral.
Shakespeare Memorial Window by Christopher Webb
This window is in the south aisle of the choir. Designed to replace an earlier Shakespeare Memorial window, this stained glass by Christopher Webb (1866–1966) was unveiled in 1954 by Dame Sybil Thorndyke, the celebrated actress.
It depicts many of the characters from Shakespeare’s plays. The left panel represents the comedies with characters such as Feste and Bottom. The centre panel feature characters from the Tempest and the right panel includes characters such as Hamlet and Lady Macbeth who are found in the tragedies. Along the bottom are scenes from the Ages of Man from a speech in As You like It.
A large collection of Webb’s stained glass can be found at Sheffield Cathedral.
Diamond Jubilee Window by Leifur Breidfjord
This most recent piece of glass can be found next to the Rider Window in the South wall of the retrochoir. This was the winning design for a window to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
The piece is an abstract design showing ‘a celebration of life, a vibrant sparkling creation that inspires joy, happiness and optimism for the future’. It was created by Icelandic artist Leifur Breidfjord.