The relics of Winifrede, or Gwenfrewy, were brought from Gwytheryn to Shrewsbury Abbey in 1138. The saint was chosen as the joint patron of Roman Catholic diocese of Shrewsbury, which was created in 1851 and originally extended from the West Midlands across north Wales to Anglesey, before the creation of the Diocese of Menevia in 1895. Shrewsbury Cathedral was opened in 1856, after the young architect Edward Pugin took over the project following the death of his father A.W.N. Pugin in 1852.
The artist Margaret Rope is currently being celebrated in an exhibition at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, and she has a number of works at the cathedral. The artist, who became a Carmelite nun in 1923, seems to have taken a particular interest in Winifrede. She is depicted in a number of windows by Margaret Rope, although whether the artist was instrumental in the choice of subjects for these commissions is not known. The cartoon for her depiction of the saint made for the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Newport (Shropshire) is included in the exhibition, having been lent from its present home at Holywell Museum.
The west window of the cathedral was Margaret Rope’s first major commission, and includes the figure of Winifrede with Oswald, with a scene below showing her at Caradoc’s feet after he cut off her head. There are further windows depicting the saint in the Chapel of St Winifrede, and a scene showing the translation of her relics to Shrewsbury, and these were made by Hardman & Co. of Birmingham, a stained glass studio set up by A.W.N. Pugin’s friend John Hardman in 1845. A relief bust of Winifrede is also found in the chapel, and the cathedral is home to a relic of Winifrede which is kept in a reliquary designed by Margaret Rope.
Two windows by Rope in the cathedral depict scenes from the lives of other saints who have medieval Welsh lives that are being edited as part of our project. There are two images from the Life of Martin in a First World War memorial window and Lawrence is shown as a standing figure at the centre of a three-light window which has further scenes from his life. I have yet to come across any scenes from the life of Lawrence from any period in a Welsh church!