Moira Forsyth

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Moira Forsyth
The round window above the altar at Guildford Cathedral - - 1152326.jpg
The round window above the altar at Guildford Cathedral, designed by Moira Forsyth
Stafford, Staffordshire
EducationCeramics training in Stoke-on-Trent, Royal College of Art
Known forStained glass
Notable work
Stained glass (Norwich Cathedral, Guildford Cathedral, Eton College Chapel) and ceramics
MovementArts and Crafts movement
AwardsQueen's award for lifelong services to the arts
ElectedPresident, Society of Catholic Artists

Moira Forsyth (1905–1991) was an English stained glass artist. Her father was Gordon Forsyth a Scottish ceramics designer, stained glass artist and teacher. They both made impressive works for the St. Joseph's Church in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. She made her name for her stained glass works, such as those found at Guildford Cathedral, Norwich Cathedral and Eton College Chapel.[1][2]

Most of her work life centered on The Glass House studio in Fulham in Greater London with other artists, such as Wilhelmina Geddes, Mary Lowndes and Alfred J. Drury. She also made and exhibited ceramics and created a large ceiling mural for the St Joseph's Catholic Church in Burslem, Staffordshire.

Personal life[edit]

Moira Forsyth was born in 1905 in Stafford, Staffordshire to Gordon Forsyth. Her father's career took the family to the Manchester area by 1911,[2][3] although they returned to Staffordshire after the First World War.

After training and her professional career in Stoke-on-Trent and London, Forsyth moved to Farnham, Surrey. She was initially trained in pottery and taught it, as well as making murals, but she was primarily known for her stained glass designs and work. She worked in the Ministry of Town and Country Planning during the years of World War II. She died in April 1991. Her requiem was held at Farnham's St Joan of Arc Church where Forsyth was a member.[2][3][4]

TO write that no-one ever found an unkind word to say about the Catholic artist Moira Forsyth, who died recently, might suggest a rather bland and insipid personality, writes Winefride Pruden. Nothing would be farther from the truth: she could be trenchant in her opinions and judgements, and her wit was not without a touch of astringency.

— Catholic Herald obituary, 26 April 1991

Education and career[edit]

At Stoke-on-Trent, Forsyth studied ceramics in 1921 at the Burslem School of Art where her father was principal. While there she also created and exhibited her works, including an exhibition in 1925 at White City Fair "to worldwide acclaim".[1][2][5][6] Orders begin coming in from around the world.[3][6] The following year she opened up her own studio for ceramics design, but due to the 1926 general strike when the kilns were not operating, she needed to close down her work place.[5][7]

She then attended the Royal College of Art after having received a scholarship in a national contest.[6][7] One of her instructors was Martin Travers.[nb 1] Taking up an interest in stained glass while there, glasswork became her professional aspiration.[1][2] Forsyth then moved to the Greater London area where she first worked at St Oswald Studios and then at The Glass House studio where she worked with Wilhelmina Geddes and the studio owners Mary Lowndes and Alfred J. Drury.[2]

During her career she was a member of the International Society of Christian Artists and Society of Catholic Artists member and president.[7]

There are more than 1,000 historical files about Moira Forsyth, dating from 1877 through 1989, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. These include family certificates of birth and death (1877 to 1976) and papers directly related to her, including business and family correspondence, applications for commissions or memberships, drawings and sketches, project files, photographs and more.[7]


Forsyth received prestigious commissions for Cathedrals as well as for schools and parish churches. She has been described as "one of England’s most notable stained glass artists:[9] Her work reflected use of slab glass, cross-hatching and colours of the Arts and Crafts movement.[6]

The Children's Corner (or Chapel) The emphasis is very much on 'creation and the incarnation'. The stained glass by Moira Forsyth, demonstrates the happiness of brought by the birth of Christ who is destined to re-establish the Garden of Eden. The illustrations are very much of the 1930s and show children white children with blond hair and shorts playing in the forests with the angels. The glass was exhibited in the Royal Academy before being put in place in St Thomas.

— Church of St Thomas the Apostle, Hanwell summary of their artwork[10]

This is a list of some of her more important works.

Work or place Location Type Notes and references
All Saints Snodland Stained glass [9]
Aylesford Priory Aylesford, near Maidstone, Kent Stained glass [9]
Church of the Holy Family Heath End, Farnham Stained glass This church is said to have the largest collection of her work. She made fourteen windows over a period of sixteen years; amongst which is a great Epihany window and a Last Supper window. Forsyth also designed 2 Lady Chapel windows, which is described here: "one of the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary when he conveyed God’s wish that she had been chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus and the other shows Mary responding to the angel’s visit." She lived in Farnham and worshiped at this church.[9]
Emanuel School Battersea, London Stained glass Forsyth collaborated with heraldry expert Wilfrid Scott-Giles on 15 windows for the school chapel, commemorating the Dacre family, founders of the Emanuel Hospital. The hospital was founded in 1954 and operated as such for years. It was then re-purposed for the Emanuel School. It is believed that much of the work was performed at The Glass House (Fulham). Her efforts are recognized in a plaque in the chapel.[3][9]
Eton College Chapel Berkshire Stained glass Eight 25 feet (7.6 m) roll of arms windows were created for the college chapel. It was one of her most significant commissions, completed in 1959 after five years of work.[2][4][7]
Guildford Cathedral Guildford, Surrey Stained glass It was her first significant commission and was completed for Sir Edward Maufe.[1][2][7]
Norwich Cathedral Norwich, Norfolk Stained glass The Benedictine window, completed in 1963, was one of her most significant commissions.[2][4][7] The work was covered in John Harries book, Discovering Stained Glass, which highlighted how she painted the lettering and her detailed figures.[11]
St Botolph’s Chevening Stained glass [9]
St Columbia's Pont Street, London Stained glass [7]
St John's Higham Stained glass [9]
St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church "Christ in Glory" mural Burslem Mural She also did a large ceiling mural called "Christ in Glory" for St Joseph's. The work, done in panels was generally done at The Glass House and brought then to the church. It was completed in 1937. Based on her relationship and affection for the church she only wished to paid for incidental expenses.[1][12]
Saint Margaret parish church Tatterford Stained glass She designed the windows of the parish church that were installed in 1951.[9]
St Mary Church - first window in the north nave Friston Stained glass The work was installed in 1952.[2][13]
St Mary's Church east window Hampden Park, Eastbourne Stained glass It was installed in 1953.[2][14]
St. Thomas the Apostle Boston Road, London Borough of Ealing Stained glass Moira Forsyth made stained glass for the children's chapel and small panels at the west end of the church, "Suffer Little Children." which was made in Arts and Crafts style.[15]


She frequently exhibited at art galleries and the Royal Academy.[3]


Moira received the Queen's award for lifelong services to the arts.[1]


  1. ^ Mr. Travers was commonly known as Martin Travers, but his birth name was Howard Martin Otho Travers.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hughes, Fred. (20 December 2008). "Father and daughter left legacy to Mother Town." The Sentinel. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Architects and Artists F-G: Moira Forsyth. Archived 2013-08-02 at WebCite Sussex Parish Churches – Architects and Artists. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e Moira Forsyth: designer of Emanuel School chapel windows.[permanent dead link] Emanuel Alumni. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Moira Forsyth." Catholic Herald. 26 April 1991. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  5. ^ a b FORSYTH Moire 1905-1991. Archived 2012-12-24 at Stoke Museums. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d Untitled stained glass window panel. The Stained Glass Museum. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h E. Lomas. (1 January 2001). Guide to the Archive of Art and Design: Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Taylor & Francis. pp. 96-97. ISBN 978-1-57958-315-6. [cited 12 September 2012].
  8. ^ Architects and Artists T-U-V: M Travers. Archived 2013-04-24 at the Wayback Machine Sussex Parish Churches – Architects and Artists. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h History of the Church of the Holy Family. Archived 2014-04-19 at the Wayback Machine Holy Angels Church, Ash. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  10. ^ Church of St Thomas the Apostle, Hanwell, describing Moira Forsyth's artwork. St. Thomas the Apostle, Hanwell. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  11. ^ Harries, John. (4 March 2008). Discovering Stained Glass. Osprey Publishing. pp. 4, 17. ISBN 978-0-7478-0205-1. [cited 12 September 2012].
  12. ^ Moira Forsyth's Artwork for St. Joseph's Church, Burslem. Archived 2012-03-14 at the Wayback Machine St. Joseph's Church, Burslem. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  13. ^ St Mary Church, Friston. Sussex Parish Churches. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  14. ^ Allen, John. (21 February 2011). Eastbourne – St Mary, Hampden Park. Archived 2013-01-24 at WebCite Sussex Parish Churches. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  15. ^ Cherry, Bridget and Nikolaus Pevsner. (11 March 1991). London 3: North West. Yale University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-300-09652-1. [cited 12 September 2012].

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