The Right Revd Paul Butler Bishop of Durham dedicates new Paradise window at St Brandon's Brancepeth with Priest in charge Revd Rick Simpson

 The Right Revd Paul Butler Bishop of Durham dedicates new Paradise window at St Brandon's Brancepeth

The Right Revd Paul Butler Bishop of Durham dedicates new Paradise window at St Brandon’s Brancepeth
The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, today Sunday 18th May helped mark the end of restoration work on a church which was reduced to a shell in a fire sixteen years ago. He attended the eucharist at St Brandon’s Anglican church at Brancepeth, County Durham,  during which he dedicated the installation of their new East (Paradise) Window. The church, which has more than 900 years of history, had to be rebuilt after the devastating fire caused widespread damage on 16th September 1998. The Paradise Window a contemporary work representing hopes for the future and the life ever-after was in set in place in march 2014. Priest-in-Charge the Reverend Rick Simpson said: “In many ways, this marks the completion of the rebuilding of St Brandon’s, after the fire of 1998. “The design and installation of a new East (Paradise) Window is the last major project of the re-imagining and restoration of the beautiful and historic building in which we have the privilege of praying.” The window has been designed and constructed by Helen Whittaker of Barley Studios in York, and picks up on part of the story of St Brandon (or Brendan), who lived c. 484-577 AD. He is known as Brendan the Navigator, and there is a long and largely mythical account of his great journey called, The Voyage of Saint Brendan, written about 900 AD. In spite of the more fanciful chapters of The Voyage, it is believed that he did sail a long distance and it is possible that he reached America (if so, beating Christopher Columbus by nearly 1,000 years).
 The Revd Rick Simpson at the Paradise Window

The Revd Rick Simpson at the Paradise Window
Rick said: “Many legends grew around Brandon/Brendan’s original navigating, some perhaps anchored in real events, while others slipped their mooring from history altogether. “Within the book is found a story of him discovering a paradise island, with beautiful and exotic flowers and birds. Our new window design picks up on this story, and seeks to convey a vision of that paradise. “We did not want the window to be a memorial of the fire, nor a monument to the past of St. Brandon’s, but something that allows us to look forward. “Also, it seemed clear that our new window should not look like classic Victorian stained glass. Our building is now both ancient, going back to some of its original simplicity, and genuinely modern, and we felt that the window needed to reflect this. A bold approach was called for. “We also decided that we wanted our window to speak of Christian hope. Helen has worked with this idea by going back to the legend of Brandon and the story of paradise. The Christian hope is that we will share the “paradise” which is heaven, made possible by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for us. It is this hope which our new window celebrates.
 The Paradise Window at St Brandon Brancepeth

The Paradise Window at St Brandon Brancepeth
“We are celebrating its arrival formally in our service today the nearest Sunday to St Brandon’s Day, and are delighted that the Bishop was able to attend.”

Bishop Paul said: ”I have heard and read many things about this building and the work that has gone on in its restoration, but this is my first visit inside and I am very impressed with the look and feel of the building and the centre piece which is this new window.”

In his sermon Bishop Paul said: “We must seek paradise not just for the future, but seek it now in our communities. This is a contemporary piece of art giving hope for the future set in the context of an ancient building that symbolises new life and hope for the people of Brancepeth and the wider community.”    

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