Ascension Window & Chest

From the chancel, turn left, and you will see an oak chest on your left, with the Ascension window above it.

The Ascension window is at the eastern end of the south aisle.  For a stained-glass window it is very light, because of the small square glass panes that make up two thirds of the window. It was designed in 1878 by the artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and there is no doubt that it was made by the William Morris Company in London. The small glass panes and delicate floral design certainly have the William Morris influence. Burne-Jones and Morris were part of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood founded in 1848 by a group of English painters and poets. The window depicts an account of Jesus ascending to heaven and is a memorial to Mrs Elizabeth Lockwood.

Many churches today possess an old chest, especially churches as old as St Mary’s. In fact, in years gone by churches were compelled by law to have one, and in 1188 Henry II ordered all churches to use a chest to collect funds for the Crusades. In 1287 the Synod of Exeter commanded each church to have a chest for books, vestments and to hold alms for the poor. The solid and heavy chest is made of oak panels and is supported by legs to keep it off the damp church floor. Iron straps strengthen the sides, back, front and lid, and there are five strong iron locks, a key being held by the vicar and each of the four churchwardens. Prescot church still has four churchwardens to this day, which is unusual for a parish church. 

The church chest is not to be confused with the Prescot Town Chest of 1597, which was taken to King’s College Cambridge in 1912 before being returned to Prescot in 1992, where it is now housed in Prescot Museum.