Brian Nicholls, 1991
Dimensions: 300cm x 200cm
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The large Hurricane stained-glass window was created to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. It is situated on the right hand side of the Entrance Hall of Bentley Priory Museum, thereby engaging Museum visitors immediately with Bentley Priory’s important Battle of Britain history.
The window is a rectangle, portrait in orientation, with a curved top. It is large, about two meters wide and almost three meters high at the tallest point. The black leading of the stained glass window panes follow the shape of the window, forming arches where the window curves at the top. The bright colours of the stained glass window stream into the dark Entrance Hall.
In the centre, dominating the space, is a Hawker Hurricane aircraft, from a birds eye view. It is emerald green interspersed with more subdued camouflage greens; a blue RAF roundel in the centre of each wing stand out in contrast. The Hurricane was flown by more than three-fifths of RAF’s Fighter Command squadrons, with over 14,000 manufactured during the Second World War.
In the lower right of the window, larger than life-size, is the head and shoulders of a fighter pilot. He is wearing a flying helmet and oxygen mask over his nose and mouth, leaving only his eyes visible. His flying goggles are pushed up onto his forehead and his bright yellow Mae West lifejacket stands out over his dark blue flying uniform. To the left of the pilot are outlines of other pilots scrambling – running away from the viewer towards their fighter aircraft pictured in the distance.
Above them is a light blue sky, with three chain home radar station masts on the left. These are tall thin metal towers. In the sky behind the large Hurricane are aircraft in flight, one of which has been hit and is spewing dark smoke.
At the top of the window sits the Royal Air Force ‘Pilot’s Wings’, in a bright yellow gold colour. The RAF’s initials are surrounded by a circular laurel wreath. An eagle’s wing extends from either side of the wreath and the monarch’s crown sits on top.
This window, along with the Spitfire window directly opposite, were commissioned in 1990 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and were installed in 1991. Students from Chelsea College of Art and Design were invited to submit proposals for the windows. The designs by post-graduate student, Brian Nicholls, who had served in the RAF, were chosen. Also in the Entrance Hall are smaller windows commemorating other parts of the Dowding System and the Battle of Britain which were added later.