Henry VII stamped his presence as King of England on Great Malvern Priory. His is the least of the medieval windows. His son destroyed the monastery.
The window is called the Magnificat Window and tells the story of the Incarnation and scenes from Christ’s life including his presentation at the Temple and turning water into wine.
The bottom lights, or panes, depict the donors and send a significant political message alongside the joys of the Virgin Mary. The key donor is King Henry VII. He is pictured along with his queen, Elizabeth of York. Sadly her image is lost. There are tiny Tudor roses as well as the Tudor heir, Prince Arthur. Pictures of Arthur are rare so this is a treasure, that Worcester Cathedral copied. The window was placed in 1501 or early 1502 to celebrate the Tudor success of an heir married to a Spanish princess. Arthur, the red and white rose combined, died in 1502 at Ludlow a few months after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so the grand window with its less than subtle political message, trumping the Plantagenet west window of Richard, then duke of Gloucester, is rather flawed.
Two other donors feature. There is Sir Thomas Lovell on the far left, then Sir John Savage, his image is gone as well, and finally Sir Reginald Bray.
Lovell, a Norfolk man, was attainted by Richard III but under Henry VII, having fought alongside him at Bosworth, became chancellor. In 1487 he fought with Henry at the Battle of Stoke and in 1489 he became Constable of Nottingham Castle. He had links with the Malvern area. He was also an executor for Margaret Beaufort. He died in 1524 having served Henry VIII but increasingly sidelined by the rise of Wolsey although in 1506 it was Lovell who went to Dover to collect Edmund de la Pole and transport him to the Tower. It is said that Lambert Simnel attended Lovell’s funeral.
Sir John Savage, another of Henry VII’s privy council, commanded the left wing of Henry Tudor’s army at Bosworth. He was also the nephew of Margaret Beaufort’s husband Thomas, Lord Stanley. The Savages were a Cheshire family with strong connections to Macclesfield. They were also linked to Malvern Chase being keepers of Hanley Castle. Savage and his father were both Sheriff of Worcestershire.
Sir Reginald Bray was a Worcestershire man and as Chrimes observes it is unlikely that Henry VII, if he had been the key donor of the window, would have placed Savage, Lovell and Bray alongside his son – or himself for that matter. Far more likely then that Bray and his fellow privy councillors paid for the window which Henry VII graciously permitted (Chrimes: 337). To find out more about Bray double click on his name.
Chrimes, S.B. (1999) Henry VII (The Yale English Monarch Series)
Wells, Katherine. (2013) A Tour of the Stained Glass at Great Malvern Priory. Friends of Great Malvern Priory.