Stained glass bringing Second World War history to light

Peter Malett, 
Staff Writer

Glass fragments from the Second World War illuminate residents at Veterans Memorial Lodge with a glowing light.

The series of ten stained glass windows at the Broadmead Care long-term care home incorporates fragments from London’s Westminster Abbey, bombed in the final days of the Battle of Britain in May 1941, Dorset Highcliffe Castle, and the Abbey of Saint-Étienne in Normandy, France.

“Our Second World War veterans can still remember that time,” said Chaplain Francis Welch, Coordinator of Spiritual Care at Broadmead Care.

Chaplain Welch said the artwork’s origin intrigues most residents.

“To them, this artwork is very real because it is made from actual buildings they may have seen or walked in,” Chaplain Welch said.

He said residents are fascinated that remnants of destruction and the madness of war can create joy and hope.

Five of the stained glass windows honour different branches of the military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Merchant Marine and Women’s Services. Another window is dedicated to the province of British Columbia.

Carson Sage, Veterans Memorial Lodge Manager of Volunteer Services and Innovative Activation, said the stained glass windows not only make for great talking points for visitors but also provide some therapeutic value for residents with dementia.

“The idea behind the windows and the stories they tell is to stimulate the long-term memories of people with dementia, since they often have a loss of short-term memory,” he said.

Sage is working on a project on each pane of stained glass, which will describe the artwork contained and its historical or military significance.

Last summer, the staff made a presentation about the history of stained glass, initially inspired by the desire of Second World War veterans for world peace. The artwork was commissioned in 1956 by famed glass maker Goddard and Gibb of London, England, and dedicated on the site of Victoria’s Memorial Pavilion at Royal Jubilee hospital. When the pavilion closed its doors, the contents of the chapel and its stained glass were eventually moved to Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich, which opened in 1994.

The local branch of the War Amputations of Canada and the Veterans’ Care Society played active roles in restoring the stained glass window in its current location.

World war stained glass

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