Features > Through the glass, brightly

06 October 2016 | by Joanna Moorhead

Through the glass, brightly


A new exhibition in Shrewsbury seeks to restore the neglected reputation of one of Britain’s most impressive stained-glass artists who was also a Carmelite nun

She rode a motorbike, smoked cigars and became a Carmelite nun. And Margaret Rope (pictured below), who died in the 1950s, also designed some of Britain’s best stained glass. According to a new exhibition she is one of the most impressive, but also most neglected, artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

The exhibition, which runs in her home town of Shrewsbury until 15 January, pays tribute to the legacy Rope left in the many churches illuminated with windows created following her designs; and it also poses questions about whether she sought to interpret often-ignored women’s faith experiences in the unlikely medium of stained glass.

Rope was born in 1882, one of six children. Her parents, a surgeon and his wife, were Anglicans, so as a child and then as a teenager, Marga, as she was known to her parents and siblings, worshipped each Sunday at the medieval church of St Mary the Virgin, a stone’s throw from their home in central Shrewsbury. Today the church is no longer in use as a regular place of worship, but it remains one of the town’s biggest tourist attractions, not least because of the extraordinarily intricate, and colourful, stained-glass window above the altar that depicts Christ’s antecedents through the Jesse tree.


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