Margaret Agnes Rope

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Margaret Agnes Rope
Famous Carmelite Nun.JPG
Detail of window at Oxton, Birkenhead, Thérèse of Lisieux, a Catholic saint of particular importance to Margaret Rope in her calling as a Carmelite nun
Born20 June 1882
Shrewsbury, England
Died6 December 1953 (aged 71)
Quidenham, Norfolk, England
EducationBirmingham Municipal School of Art
Known forStained glass
Notable workStained glass windows

Margaret Agnes Rope (20 June 1882 – 6 December 1953) was a British stained glass artist in the Arts and Crafts movement tradition active in the first four decades of the 20th century. Her work is notable for the intensity and skill of the painting and the religious fervour underpinning it. She should not be confused with her cousin, Margaret Edith Rope (known professionally as M. E. Aldrich Rope), another British stained glass artist in the same tradition, active from 1910 until the mid-1960s, with whom she cooperated on some windows.


The two Margaret Ropes were first cousins, granddaughters of George Rope of Grove Farm, Blaxhall, Suffolk (1814-1912) and his wife Anne (née Pope) (1821-1882). The elder Margaret Rope, Margaret Agnes Rope, was the second child of Henry John Rope, M.D (1847-1899) and Agnes Maud (née Burd: 1857- 1948). "Marga" was her nickname. She was born on 20 June 1882 and christened Margaret Agnes at St Mary's Church, Shrewsbury on 7 July. Her elder brother was Henry Edward George Rope. It was an Anglican family but, soon after her husband's early death in 1899, her mother converted to Roman Catholicism (along with 5 of her 6 children). She brought her children up in some degree of poverty, exacerbated by her father's will, which denied money to any descendant "in religion". Of the children, two became nuns (herself and Monica) and one a priest (Fr. Harry Rope). Two other siblings were Irene Vaughan, a botanist, and Squadron Leader Michael Rope, an aeronautical engineer, who died in the R101 airship disaster. Only one, Denys, a doctor of medicine, continued as an Anglican, following his father.[1]

She was educated at home until she went in 1900 to the Birmingham Municipal School of Art.[2] Studies included enamelling and lettering. From 1901, she studied stained glass under Henry Payne. She had an illustrious career at the school including a number of scholarships, plus many awards in the National Competition for Schools of Art. In 1909, she left the school and worked from home (The Priory, Shrewsbury) especially on the large west window of Shrewsbury Cathedral, the first of seven she did there. From 1911, she worked (sometimes with her cousin M. E. Aldrich Rope and other artists such as Joseph Edward Nuttgens[3]) at The Glass House (Fulham) until 1923 when, on 14 September, she became a Carmelite nun, Sister Margaret of the Mother of God. As a nun, she was first at Woodbridge, Suffolk, later at Rushmere, Ipswich, and, after the Second World War, at Quidenham Hall, Norfolk. At Woodbridge, she was able to continue her work, sending glass to and fro by train to the Glass House in Fulham for cutting, firing and leading up. This continued until 1939. After the war and the move to Quidenham, she was not well enough to do more than help with the designs for the windows for the monastery church, which were made by her cousin. She died on 6 December 1953 aged 71.[4]

Although she is buried at Quidenham, a memorial window to her can be found at the Church of the Holy Family and St Michael at Kesgrave, near Ipswich, itself a memorial to her brother Michael Rope. This memorial was a window adapted by her cousin from an incomplete work of hers. Her archive was held at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery but has since been transferred.

She is reputed to have been a strong character, smoking and motorbike-riding being among her pastimes before she took her vows.[5] Her stained glass work also shows strength of character as well as artistry in design and execution of a high order. Much of her best work is typified by strong colours, jewelled intensity and consummate glass painting skills. The sense of individual personality that shines from many of the faces she portrayed is powerful.[6]


Apart from student pieces on secular themes, her artistic output was exclusively for churches, nearly all Roman Catholic. Common themes of her windows were the Catholic English Martyrs, the Annunciation and the lives of the Saints. In a shorter career than her cousin, only 30-odd years, she inevitably produced fewer windows - around 60. The most notable examples are listed below with locations and some illustrations. First are windows in the United Kingdom, followed by those in other countries, in alphabetical order of county or country. Inaccessible windows have been omitted. Asterisks indicate windows of particular importance.[7]

Location Details Notes
Cheshire: Oxton, Birkenhead, Holy Name English Martyrs; SS. Elizabeth, Mary, John the Baptist; SS. Therèse of Lisieux & Winifride *** See gallery
Cheshire: Hoylake, St Hildeburgh St George - memorial window .
Cheshire: Stockport, Our Lady & the Apostles The Holy Family East window
Dyfed: Llandovery, Our Lady Memorial window to her sister's children[8] ** See gallery
Gwent: Llanarth, S.Mary & S.Michael SS Francis & Benedict .
Lanarkshire: Lanark, S.Mary The Last Days & Crucifixion, Parable of the Prodigal Son *** See gallery
London: Clapham, St Mary The Holy Family, Crucifixion, Virgin & Child, Blessed Sacrament .
London: Tyburn Convent 20 roundels commemorating the English Martyrs[9] ***
Norfolk: Quidenham Carmelite Monastery Many windows in the chapel designed by her but made by her cousin Also S.Theresa, S.Joseph, Holy Trinity in the enclosure
Oxfordshire: Clifton Hampden St George & Dragon .
Shropshire: Newport, SS Peter & Paul SS Peter & Paul, SS Winefride & Nicholas, Our Lady Help of Christians *** See Gallery
Shropshire: Cathedral Church of Our Lady & S.Peter of Alcantara English Martyrs, Visitation with S. Cecilia, Congress window, Soldier window, S. Lawrence, Baptistery[10] Several of her early windows, inc. her first major work. See gallery: 3 images
Suffolk: Blaxhall, S.Peter Nativity with Saints (East window: family memorial) ** An early work (also porch window with her cousin)
Suffolk: Kesgrave, Holy Family & S.Michael Holy Family & S.Michael, David & Isaiah, SS.Thomas More & John Fisher, SS.Margaret & Catherine, S.Dominic, Holy Saturday Procession, Virgin & Child (her memorial) Many works including cartoons in this memorial church to her brother Michael. See gallery.
Surrey, All Saints S.Hedwig .
Australia: Geraldton, WA: S.Francis Xavier 6 windows including Janua Coeli, Rosa Mystica, Resurrection, Bp Kelly memorial in Cathedral designed by Monsignor Hawes (Priest and Architect)
Italy: Rome, Venerable English College S.Ralph Sherwin .
South Africa: Balgowan, Michaelhouse School Samuel, David, S.Michael, Virgin & Child, Gabriel, John the Baptist, Loaves & fishes Seven memorial lancets in school chapel **
South Africa: Randfontein, S.John the Divine "This do and thou shalt live" .
USA The Well of Love, Goblin Market Student pieces not usually on display at Los Angeles County Museum (former) and New York Metropolitan Museum (latter)


A major exhibition of Rope's work, under the title Heavenly Lights, opened at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery in September 2016.[11] In August 2019 the museum unveiled a new stained glass window created by local artist Nathalie Hildegarde Liege inspired by the exhibition.[12]



  1. ^ "The Life of Margaret Agnes Rope ("Marga")". Two Margaret Ropes, Stained Glass Artists in the Arts and Crafts Movement. Archived from the original on 12 February 2002. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  2. ^ Phillips, Dr Peter (2009). "A Family Recorded in Glass, the Windows of Margaret Rope in Shrewsbury Cathedral". Midland Catholic History. 16.
  3. ^ Cormack, Peter (2015). Arts and Crafts Stained Glass. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-300-20970-9.
  4. ^ Cormack, Peter (1985). Women Stained Glass Artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement. London: London Borough of Waltham Forest Libraries & Arts Department. pp. 12–14. ISBN 0901974226.
  5. ^ Phillips, Dr Peter (2009). "A Family Recorded in Glass, the Windows of Margaret Rope in Shrewsbury Cathedral". Midland Catholic History. 16.
  6. ^ "The Life of Margaret Agnes Rope ("Marga")". Margaret Agnes Rope, Margaret Edith Rope, Stained Glass Artists of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  7. ^ "List of Works by Margaret Agnes Rope ("Marga")". Two Margaret Ropes, Stained Glass Artists of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  8. ^ Crampin, Martin (2014). Stained Glass from Welsh Churches. YOLFA. ISBN 9781847718259.
  9. ^ A Celebration of the Martyrs - in stained-glass. London: Shrine of the Sacred Heart and the English Martyrs, Tyburn Convent.
  10. ^ Hall, Roger (2008). Letting in the Light of Christ: Margaret Rope and her Shrewsbury Cathedral Windows. Shrewsbury: Shrewsbury Cathedral.
  11. ^ Margaret Rope: The 'genius' stained glass artist who became a nun, BBC News, 25 September 2016. Accessed 25 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Stained glass project to be unveiled at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery". 15 August 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Margaret Agnes Rope at Wikimedia Commons