Adam and Eve Window

The small window nearby is the work of Alexander Gibbs, introduced in 1870, and artistically and technically much superior to the window of the following year, formerly in the Lady Chapel, which, designed by his brother, Charles A. Smith, represented Eli and the infant Samuel. The iconography of the temptation of Eve would have been familiar to Victorian church people from the steel-engravings in their family Bibles. The choice of subject may have been prompted by the contemporary controversy surrounding the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, although from the earliest times many Christian thinkers had discounted the quasi-historical elements of the Genesis narrative to penetrate the inner core of its moral meaning . The lines of Alexander Pope in his Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot may serve to elucidate the form of the serpent, traditionally understood to be a Satanic incarnation, as it appears in the window:

‘Eve’s Tempter thus the Rabbins have exprest,
A cherub’s face, a Reptile all the rest……’