NEW glass doors have transformed the entrance to All Saints’ Church in Emberton, Buckinghamshire.

Light can now flood into the church, making the building more welcoming. Tracey Sheppard, Fellow of the Guild of Glass Engravers, was commissioned to engrave the glass doors with a design that was inspired by the rural setting of All Saints’ church. The PCC felt her design was both beautiful and spiritual while respecting the history of the church.

The Diocese of Oxford supported the project along with a private donor.

Tracey says: “The guidebook states that All Saints’ church ‘…has stood with its commanding view of the village and surrounding countryside through six-and-a-half centuries of change’. In Christian art, a church standing on a hilltop can be seen as a symbol of heaven. The view of All Saints’ is the starting point and from its door flows all the other elements of the engraved design.

“There is a particularly lovely lychgate at the entrance to the churchyard. The gate has a number of symbolic meanings in Christian art—in this design, it represents the entrance into the heavenly Paradise.

“The church and the village of Emberton are surrounded by the rolling countryside of the ceremonial county of Buckinghamshire. A small patch of ancient woodland, Hollington Wood, lies about a mile south-east, and the River Great Ouse flows to the north. These geographical features have been incorporated into the design.

“The path from the gate descends the hill and disappears into a valley. The land in the foreground rises up to a hill where three beech trees represent the three crosses. They are showing new spring growth suggesting the Tree of Life, and the Resurrection. Among other elements, the Buckinghamshire coat of arms incorporates a beech tree and a Buck. In this design a Fallow stag runs down the hill towards the church representing the county arms and to depict the stag from Psalm 42: vs 1 – a symbol of religious aspiration – ‘As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee O God.’

“Spring wheat and bluebells tumble down the hillside from the woods, again underlining the theme of spring and rebirth. The bluebells serve a second important function in this design representing the bells in All Saints’. Bells have been central to the history and growth of this church beginning with the gift of bells by the rector, John Morden in the 15th Century.

“The lower part of the design shows stylised waters of the Great Ouse here suggesting the cleansing waters of baptism and the Waters of Life. Roach, perch and chub swim in the river and here link us to the ancient symbol used by early Christians to represent Christ. The dragonflies serve as a further reminder of the Resurrection.”

Photos: Nick Carter