London’s Most Unusual Windows

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London’s Most Unusual Windows

From stained glass beauties to ivy-strewn ruins, London’s home to some eye-catching windows. Below we’ve rounded up a few of the most unusual.

The warped window

Metal mouldings mishap or glitch in the matrix? This warped window on the eastern side of Trafalgar Square’s St Martin the Fields church is actually the work of Iranian-born artist Shirazeh Houshiary and was installed in 2005 as part of a £35m renewal of the church.

The stained glass clown

Most churches depict biblical scenes in their stained glass windows, but not Holy Trinity in Dalston. This nightmare-inducing tableau is actually a tribute to Joseph Grimaldi, the London-born entertainer who gave the world the modern clown. The basement of the church even used to house a clown museum, before it sadly closed owing to building safety concerns.

The artist’s vista

Image: river road travels via the Londonist Flickr pool

Next time you’re on the M4, look out for these unusual Arts and Crafts-era houses close to Baron’s Court. St Paul’s Studios were designed by Frederick Wheeler in the 1890s to house bachelor artists, which suggests that the unusual vastness of their spectacular arched windows was a practical choice, as well as a stylistic one. As this Observer piece shows, the windows let in a huge amount of natural light, ensuring each studio could double as a workroom.

The window that is no more

London’s home to a lot of striking ruins, but none quite so melancholically beautiful as St Dunstan-in-the-East. The City church took an absolute battering during the Blitz and in the early seventies its ruins were transformed into a tranquil public garden. The foliage encroaching on these Gothic revival window arches gives the spot an eerie, almost post-apocalyptic vibe in dramatic juxtaposition to the surrounding office blocks.

Westminster Abbey’s pastoral pop art

Image: Shakespearesmonkey via the Londonist Flickr Pool

In 2018, Westminster Abbey’s northern transept became a whole lot more colourful. Named ‘The Queen’s Window’, this vivid stained glass job’s courtesy of David Hockney. The piece, which depicts a vibrant pastoral scene in the acclaimed artist’s native Yorkshire, was commissioned to celebrate Elizabeth II’s status as the longest-reigning monarch.

The Georgian relic

Image: Andrea Vail via the Londonist Flickr Pool

Walking down Princelet street is like travelling back in time — aside from the Instagrammers you have to dodge to get a glimpse of Number 4’s crumbling red stucco facade that is. Constructed in 1723, this Grade II listed terraced house is a proper Georgian capsule that is nowadays used primarily for photoshoots or private hire events. It might be haunted — the photographer who submitted this photo to our Flickr pool mentioned that the left shutter kept opening and closing of its own accord. Spooky.

The pandemic memorial window

Image: The Historian at QMUL

Right now we’re spending more time than ever before staring mournfully out of windows, Edward Hopper-style, thanks to our own current pandemic. But this window at Queen Mary, University of London’s Whitechapel Library (housed in a former church) is a tribute to a public health crisis that predates COVID-19 by more than a century. This candy-coloured triptych is the work of German graphic artist Johannes Schreiter and honours the heroes of the 1918-1919 flu pandemic — note the zigzagging line that calls to mind the peaks and troughs of infection rates.

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