An ancient symbolic tree in a window


By 2016 the garage at the bottom of my garden was really in need of a revamp, I decided to design a new one with a steeply pitched roof so that I could have a high window in it, like in Dutch houses but on a smaller scale. I used old reclaimed bricks to stay in keeping with my Victorian house, and I decided to put a stained glass window in, to cheer up my garden on cold winter’s nights.

In my view you can never have too many trees in a garden, and I decided on a Yew tree for the window. It is a tree that has been venerated for thousands of years. You often find them in churchyards; and usually they were there before the churches, which had been built on ancient pagan sites that existed before Christianity. The Yew tree has the greatest longevity of all British trees, living as long as 7000 years. The oldest in Great Britain is 5000 years old but there are few old ones left, as many were used from the middle ages to make long bows.

The Yew tree came to represent death and resurrection in Celtic culture and I represent this with my tree reflected in water at the bottom. The sphere at the top is ambiguously meant to symbolise the moon at night and the sun during the day.

The garage before, and after the window was installed. The white reflective screen can be seen on the left picture, and that’s Duck on the right.

I had to modify the design of the garage by building a screen illuminated by two roof lights, set back 6 feet behind the window. In this way the window can be enjoyed from the garden when the sun lights up the screen on sunny days and the colours ring out. The window always changes as the light changes. It can be quite beautiful.

The window was built from my design for me by the wonderful stained glass artist Katherine Boyd, at Yorkshire Artspace.