Permission granted for replacement of Colston stained-glass at St Mary Redcliffe

First published 9th June 2023

St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, is delighted to announce that permission by the Diocesan Chancellor has been given to install new stained glass panels to replace those commemorating the slave trader Edward Colston.

In order to replace the original Victorian stained glass, the church required permission from The Consistory Court of The Diocese of Bristol. In his judgement, the Chancellor agreed that the original Victorian panels hinder the church from its mission of “singing the song of faith and justice”.

First of four stained glass windows being created for St Mary Redcliffe

Following the toppling of the Colston Statue in 2020, St Mary Redcliffe removed the panels from the church, and later launched a competition for new designs to replace the designs in 2021, in the hope of 'promoting a sense of hope in a shared future'.

St Mary Redcliffe requested creative and imaginative designs that reflected the question that prompted Jesus to tell the story – ‘Who is my neighbour?’. The designs also needed to work well within the whole window and complement the architecture of this area of the church.

The new panels, which depict Jesus in multiple ethnicities to counter the anglo-centric narrative of 'white Jesus’, are designed by local doctor Ealish Swift. These are the first images of a non-white Jesus to be installed in St Mary Redcliffe Church and join two other windows, which feature non-white subjects.


Dozens of people from a variety of backgrounds entered the competition and five shortlisted designs were displayed during an exhibition that took place at St Mary Redcliffe during the summer of 2021. Members of the public were invited to provide feedback on the five designs and their comments were included in the decision-making process.

Doctor Ealish Swift, said: “I am deeply honoured that my design has been chosen for this wonderful space that means so much to me. I’m thrilled that my design seemed to resonate so much with the local community and I hope everyone will come to visit to see the final piece and experience everything this wonderful church, and community, has to offer!”

The church says the project marks an 'important step' in its journey to become a welcoming place to all members of the community.

Canon Dan Tyndall said: "The toppling of Edward Colston turned an international spotlight onto Bristol and its entangled history profiting, as it most certainly did, from human trafficking.

"The opportunity to reimagine how we can tell the story of the Good Samaritan was grasped enthusiastically by the church.

"As part of our response we have grown our social action programme and now run Redcliffe Community Hub in a local shop unit, providing information, advice, clinics and, throughout the winter, a warm space in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country."

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