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Great Britain

03 November 2020

Christmas 2020

Great Britain: Christmas 2020, 3 November 2020. Images from Royal Mail and Collect GB Stamps.

Technical Specifications:

November 3 2020
Printed by: International Security Printers
Stamp format Portrait (standard); landscape (large)
Stamp size 24mm x 28mm (standard); 34mm x 28mm (large)
Printer International Security Printers
Print process Gravure
Perforations 14.5 x 15
Phosphor Bars as appropriate
Gum Self-adhesive

Stained-glass celebrations of the uplifting Nativity story appear on eight elegant Christmas 2020 stamps featuring scenes of the new-born infant Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

The images showcase the detail and craftsmanship of this highly specialized decorative art.

The set includes six standard portrait and two large landscape Special Stamps.

Second Class (and Second Class Large) St Andrew’s Church, East Lexham, Norfolk:

The round tower of this church is said by some to be the oldest in England, built about 900AD. It is crudely shaped, built of flints with occasional bands of very large flints and tapered outside above 35 feet, at the belfry level. Above the belfry openings inside are traces of a ring of circular openings. The nave and chancel walls are continuous, which is a sign of an early church. The tower is now capped with an octagonal roof. The circular churchyard with the church on a slight mound suggests that this could have been a site for pagan worship, later taken over by the Christians in perhaps the 7C to prevent a continuation of pagan worship here. The original church could have been built of wood or wattle and daub.

The east window glass is believed to have been made by Clayton & Bell in about 1859. It shows the Crucifixion in the centre, flanked by Christ carrying his Cross and the Deposition in the Tomb. Across the bottom are illustrations of the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. In the apex are two angels announcing, “He is risen”, above two sleeping soldiers. These are flanked by the witnesses of the Resurrection, St Peter, St John and the three women bearing spices.

First Class (and First Class Large) St Andrew’s Church, Coln Rogers, Gloucestershire:

The Anglican Church of St Andrew at Coln Rogers in the Cotswold District of Gloucestershire, England was built in the 11th century. It is a grade I listed building. The Saxon church was built in the 11th century and the layout is largely unchanged. The only variation is that the east wall of the chancel was rebuilt and the tower inserted. A screen was put into the chancel arch before 1844 during alterations by Samuel Daukes and John Hamilton.

The parish is part of the Chedworth, Yanworth and Stowell, Coln Rogers benefice within the Diocese of Gloucester.

The limestone building consists of a nave and chancel, with a south porch and a west tower. The two-stage tower holds three bells the oldest of which dates from 1676. The stone pulpit is from the 15th century and the font Norman. There are traces of 15th century stained glass in some windows of the nave. A tablet within the church has the names of everyone from the village who served in the armed forces during World War I, all of which survived, making it one of the Thankful Villages.

£1.45 Church of St James, Hollowell, Northamptonshire:

This is a large red-brick church typical of many from the latter part of the C19 aimed at providing a substantial amount of accommodation for relatively modest expense. It has a tall six-bay, clerestoried nave with flanking lean-to aisles. The style is plain Early English with simple architectural lines which rely upon polychromy to enhance the visual effect The clerestory has three equal-height lancets in each bay (apart from the W bay which has a single light). The aisle bays are demarcated by short buttresses and there are two equal-height lancets per bay. The tower, the last part of the church to be built, has three stages (the first of these being very tall), and has set-back buttresses. The belfry lights are pairs of windows with thin Y-tracery. Above these comes a clock stage and a plain parapet behind which is a low pyramidal roof. The main roof runs over the nave and chancel at a continuous level. The clerestory is continued from the nave into the chancel. At the E end there is a window with three equal lancets and circular window above with a central circle surrounded by a ring of eight smaller ones. There are no buttresses at the E end.

£1.70 All Saints’ Church, Otley, West Yorkshire:

All Saints’ Church in Otley, West Yorkshire, England is an active Anglican parish church in the archdeaconry of Leeds and the Diocese of Leeds. The church is of Norman origin with alterations from the 14th to the 18th centuries. There is an altar tomb on which there is the recumbent effigies of Thomas, Lord Fairfax; an army commander under Elizabeth I and later MP for Yorkshire and his wife. The church was Grade I listed on 30 July 1951.

The earliest parts are of rubble stone. The church has tall perpendicular windows with the exception of the chancel which has two Norman windows. The church has a Georgian oak pulpit. The church has a Norman doorway to its north although it’s doubtful it is in its original position. Outside the church is a memorial in memory of the navvies who died building the nearby Bramhope Tunnel between 1845 and 1849.

£2.50 St Columba’s Church, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire:

Topcliffe is a village and civil parish in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, England. The village is situated on the River Swale, on the A167 road and close to the A168. It is about 5 miles (8 km) south-west of Thirsk and 11 miles (18 km) south of the county town of Northallerton. It has a population of 1,489. An army barracks, with a Royal Air Force airfield enclosed within, is located to the north of the village.

The village was the centre of a large ancient parish in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The parish included the townships of Asenby, Baldersby, Catton, Dalton, Dishforth, Eldmire with Crakehill, Marton-le-Moor, Rainton with Newby, Skipton-on-Swale and Topcliffe. All of these townships became separate civil parishes in 1866.

The village has a church dedicated to St Columba. As the name suggests, there has been a church in the site since early Saxon times, possibly around the time of St Aiden’s mission in 650AD. The present building date from the 13th century with improvements being made throughout the ages. It is a Grade II* listed building.

£2.55 Christ Church, Coalville, Leicestershire:

Church, 1836-8, by H J Stevens of Derby. Chancel added in 1894-5; restored 1948-52. Of ashlar with slate roofs. 4-bay aisleless nave, chancel, transeptal chapels. 4 stage W tower with angle buttresses, battlements and pinnacles, mast and weathercock; lit by plain lancets and a 2-light window with Y-tracery at 1st floor level to the west. The body of the church lit by cusped lancets with hood-moulds over, between buttresses. Interior has brass commemorating 35 miners killed in a fire at Whitwick Colliery 19 April 1898. N Pevsner Leicestershire and Rutland.


Article from Somersetlive.co.uk, published on 3 November 2020:

Royal Mail Christmas stamps 2020 revealed – featuring stained-glass Nativity scenes

The 2020 collection features colourful artistry taken from churches across the country

By Emma Bowden, Palorna Hughes
06:08, 3 NOV 2020

The Royal Mail has unveiled its Christmas stamps for 2020 – featuring the story of the Nativity told through stained glass windows.

Scenes from windows in six churches across the country, covering a range of eras, styles and techniques, are included in the set, which will be on sale from Tuesday.

The Nativity story is a common subject in stained-glass artistry, with scenes often focused on the relationship between the new-born infant Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Philip Parker, of Royal Mail, said: “Our beautiful Christmas stamps feature the Nativity as told through the artistry of different styles of stained-glass windows.”

The 1st Class stamp sees Mary cradling the new-born Christ child in a brightly coloured window from St Andrew’s Church in Coln Rogers, Gloucestershire.

The 2nd Class stamp depicts the Adoration of the Magi from the east window of St Andrew’s Church in the village of East Lexham in Norfolk, the round tower of which is said to be one of the oldest in England, built around 900AD.

Another stamp shows the Virgin and Child scene from a window in Church of St James in Hollowell, Northamptonshire, which is known for its stained-glass windows.

The Virgin and Child scene is also seen in the £1.70 stamp, with Mary seated and holding the infant Jesus on her knee, taken from a window in the All Saints Church in Otley, West Yorkshire.

A stained-glass window from St Columba’s Church in Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, is divided into three lights, showing three scenes in the life of Mary which also relate to the birth of Christ.

The £2.50 stamp in the Royal Mail series includes a scene from this colourful window, showing the details of the Holy Family.

The final £2.55 stamp shows a section of a window from the Christ Church in Coalville, Leicestershire, which focuses on Mary and the Christ child.


Article from Linn’s Stamp News, published on 5 November 2020:

World Stamps

Britain’s Christmas stamps capture the beauty of stained glass windows

Nov 5, 2020, 9 AM

By Denise McCarty

Great Britain’s Royal Mail is celebrating Christmas with eight new stamps featuring Nativity scenes in stained glass.

The stamps were issued Nov. 3. In announcing them, Royal Mail said that the designs were “inspired by the artistry of stained-glass windows in Anglican churches the length and breadth of the country, focusing on the Nativity scene and the depiction of the Virgin Mary with the newly born Jesus Christ.”

The Christmas set includes four nondenominated stamps: second-class for standard mail (currently 65 pence), second-class for large mail (88p), first-class for standard mail (76p) and first-class for large mail (£1.15).

Royal Mail defines standard-size mail as letters not exceeding 24 centimeters in length, 16.5 centimeters in width and 0.5 centimeters in thickness, with a weight limit of 100 grams. Large letters can be up to 35.3 centimeters in length, 25 centimeters in width and 2.5 centimeters thick, with a weight limit of 750 grams.

The other four stamps in the set are denominated: £1.45 (letters to Europe up to 20 grams and worldwide up to 10 grams), £1.70 (international letters up to 20 grams and letters to Europe up to 100 grams), £2.50 (international letters to zones 1 and 3 up to 100 grams), and £2.55 (international letters to zone 2 up to 100 grams).

The two second-class stamps feature details from the 19th-century stained-glass window at St. Andrew’s Church, East Lexham, Norfolk.

In an article in a local newspaper Dereham Times, the Rev Canon Heather Butcher (the church’s rector) said, “The east window is full of colour and conveys so much of the Christian message with the triumphant ‘He is Risen’ at the apex. It is wonderful to have the window in this lovely little church illuminating the Christmas stamps this year.”

Featured on the two first-class stamps is the scene of Mary cradling Jesus from the east window of St. Andrew’s Church, Coln Rogers, Gloucestershire.

Additional details from the two windows are shown on the two nondenominated stamps for large mail. For example, on the second-class stamp for large mail, Joseph is pictured on the right, and the Magi (also known as the three kings or the three wise men) can be seen adoring the new-born Jesus.

The other stamps feature windows from the Church of St. James, Hollowell, Northamptonshire (£1.45); All Saints’ Church, Otley, West Yorkshire (£1.70); St. Columba’s Church, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire (£2.50); and Christ Church, Coalville, Leicestershire (£2.55).

Royal Mail Group Ltd. and the design firm Up designed the stamps, using photographs from different sources. Royal Mail described these designs as reflecting the “extraordinary detail and craftmanship of this highly specialised decorative art, covering a range of eras, styles and techniques.”

International Security Printers printed these self-adhesive stamps by gravure in sheets of 50 (sold in panes of 25 at most postal outlets), The first-class and second-class stamps for standard-size mail also were issued in booklets of 12.

The two stamps for large mail measure 34 millimeters by 28mm each, and the other stamps are each 24mm by 28mm. The stamps have die-cut perforations that gauge 14.5 by 15.

A souvenir sheet includes the eight Christmas stamps with traditional stamp gum displayed against a background showing light reflecting from a stained-glass window of St. Grada and Holy Cross Church in Cornwall. The sheet, which is 179mm by 74mm, was printed by lithography by International Security Printers.

Other products offered with this Christmas set include FDCs; a set of nine postcards reproducing the designs of the stamps and the souvenir sheet; a presentation pack with all eight stamps, plus illustrations and text about the windows; and a pane of 20 stamps that Royal Mail calls a “collectors sheet.”

The collectors sheet includes eight each of the second-class and first-class stamps and one each of the denominated stamps. Shown in the selvage are the illuminated stained-glass windows of St. Mary’s Church in Norfolk depicting the Nativity.

The stamps and related products are available online from Royal Mail.

Ordering information also is available from Royal Mail, Tallents House, 21 S. Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB, Scotland. Royal Mail’s agency in the United States is Interpost, Box 400, Hewlett, NY 11557.

Miniature Sheet of 8 Stamps:

Presentation Packs:

Half- and Full Sheets of 25 and 50 2nd Class and 1st Class Stamps:

Booklets of 12 2nd Class and 12 1st Class Stamps:

First Day Covers:

Generic Sheet:

A revival of the art and craft of stained-glass window manufacture took place in early 19th-century Britain, beginning with an armorial window created by Thomas Willement in 1811–12. The revival led to stained glass windows becoming such a common and popular form of coloured pictorial representation that many thousands of people, most of whom would never commission or purchase a painting, contributed to the commission and purchase of stained-glass windows for their parish church.

Within 50 years of the beginnings of commercial manufacture in the 1830s, British stained glass grew into an enormous and specialized industry, with important centres in Newcastle upon Tyne, Birmingham, Whitechapel in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Norwich and Dublin. The industry also flourished in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. By 1900 British windows had been installed in Copenhagen, Venice, Athens, Bangalore, Nagasaki, Manila and Wellington. After the Great War from 1914 to 1918, stained glass design was to change radically.

Following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, many churches, abbeys and cathedrals were built, initially in the Norman or Romanesque style, then in the increasingly elaborate and decorative Gothic style. In these churches the windows were generally either large or in multiples so that the light within the building was maximized. The windows were glazed, frequently with coloured glass held in place by strips of lead. Because flat glass could only be manufactured in small pieces, the method of glazing lent itself to patterning. The pictorial representation of biblical characters and narratives was a feature of Christian churches, often taking the form of murals. By the 12th century stained glass was well adapted to serve this purpose. For 500 years the art flourished and adapted to changing architectural styles.

The vast majority of English glass was smashed by Puritans under Oliver Cromwell. Churches which retain a substantial amount of early glass are rare. Very few of England’s large windows are intact. Those that contain a large amount of Medieval glass are usually reconstructed from salvaged fragments. The east, west and south transept windows of York Minster and the west and north Transept windows of Canterbury give an idea of the splendors that have been mostly lost. In Scotland, which never manufactured its own stained glass but bought from the south, they lost much of their glass not because it was smashed but because the monasteries were disbanded. These monasteries had monks with skills in repairing. When they went, windows gradually fell apart.

Medieval windows and drawings of them provided the source and inspiration for nearly all the earlier 19th-century designers.

Canterbury Cathedral retains more ancient glass than any other English cathedral except York. Much of it appears to be imported from France and some is very early, dating from the 11th century. Much of the glass is in the style of Chartres Cathedral with deep blue featuring as the background colour in most windows. There are wide borders of stylized floral motifs and small pictorial panels of round, square or diaper shape. Other windows contain rows of apostles, saints and prophets. These windows, including the large west window have a predominance of red, pink, brown and green in the colors, with smaller areas of blue. Most of the glass in this remarkable window is older than the 15th-century stone tracery that contains it, the figure of Adam being part of a series of Ancestors of Christ that are among the oldest surviving panels in England.

York Minster also contains much of its original glass including important narrative windows of the Norman period, the famous “Five Sister” windows, the 14th-century west window and 15th-century east window. The “Five Sisters”, although repaired countless times so that they now contain a spider’s web of lead, still reveal their delicate pattern of simple geometric shapes enhanced by grisaille painting. They were the style of window which was most easily imitated by early 19th-century plumber-glaziers. The east and west windows of York are outstanding examples because in each case they are huge, intact, at their original location and by a known craftsman. The west window, designed in about 1340 by Master Robert, contains tiers of saints and stories of Christ and the Virgin Mary, each surmounted by a delicate Gothic canopy in white and yellow-stain, against a red background. The highly ornate tracery lights are filled with floral motifs. White glass stone borders surround each panel, making it appear to float in its frame. The east window of 1405 was glazed by John Thornton and is the largest intact medieval window in the world. It presents a narrative in sequential panels of the Creation, the Fall of Man, the Redemption, the Apocalypse, the Last Judgment and the Glory of God. York also has windows with small diaper-shaped quarries painted with little birds and other motifs which were much reproduced in the 19th century.

Between them, the windows of York and Canterbury cathedrals provided the examples for different styles of windows—geometric patterns, floral motifs and borders, narratives set in small panels, rows of figures, major thematic schemes.

Scattered all over England, sometimes in remote churches, is similar evidence of the designs, motifs and techniques used in the past. Two churches, St Neot’s in Cornwall and Fairford in Gloucestershire, are of particular interest. Fairford escaped the depredations of the Puritan era and, uniquely in England, retained its complete medieval cycle of glass. The theme is that of the east window of York, the Salvation of Mankind, but in this case the theme is spread across all the windows of the church, large and small. The west window, of seven lights, shows a single narrative incident, the Last Judgment. This scheme and these particular windows provided a rare source for the designers of narrative windows for parish churches.


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