Polar Explorer Captain Scott and the Stained Glass Window at Binton

Polar Explorer Captain Scott and the Stained Glass Window at Binton

Sometimes there are things that you discover that are worthy of note all by itself.

This is one of those.

Robert Falcon Scott is one of Britain's most famous polar explorers and adventurers. His death in 1912 made headlines around the world on his ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica where he led a team of five in trying to be the first to reach the South Pole.

He was beaten out by the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen by about a month and began their 800 mile return journey back. Deflated and in worsening weather conditions, hungry, short of fuel and exhausted - the team never made it. The bodies of Scott and his two of his team Dr Edward Wilson and Lt Henry Robertson Bowers were discovered in the snow and ice by rescuers eight months later. Missing confirmed dead were the other members including Petty Officer Edgar Evans who died from injury and conditions on their route and Captain Oates who walked out of the tent into a blizzard not wanting to be a burden to his fellow explorers.

A Church and path to the church
Binton Church of St Peter

A church tower
Binton Church Tower

In the gem of a church called St Peter's in the tiny place of Binton in Warwickshire tucked in the crook of a hill with splendid views across the Avon river valley lies a simply amazing stained glass window memorial to Robert Falcon Scott and the expedition.

It was unveiled in 1915 during the middle of the First World War. But why is it here you ask?

Simply, the association between the polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott and Binton village lies with his wife Kathleen Bruce. Her brother was the Reverend Lloyd Hervey Bruce, vicar of this parish. Legend will tell you that Kathleen and Robert Scott made one of their last visits together just before he left for the long trek to the Pole to the vicarage at Binton.

The money was fundraised for the window by those near and far. The locals believed that Captain Scott was one of their own.

The wonder of this stained glass window is that not only was it designed and created the company of Kempe but its scale and layout means that it tells the story of the Scott expedition from a local point of view. It was Bruce's church after all.

Seen on the window are four scenes of the events of the Terra Nova expedition including:

1. Captain Scott and his companions setting off for the South Pole

stained glass window

2. The Scott team coming across the flag of Roald Amundsen realising that the Norwegian team had beaten them

stained glass window

3. Captain Oates unwilling to be a burden sets off alone out of the tent not wanting to be a burden to his comrades

stained glass window

4. The search party erect a cairn to mark the resting place of the members of the Terra Nova expedition: Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Dr Edward Wilson and Lt Henry Robertson Bowers

stained glass window

Other notable and brilliant parts of the window include a scene of the Terra Nova ship, the Cairn and religious and patriotic imagery inspired by the man and his expedition.

The Terra Nova Ship in stained glass
The Terra Nova Ship

Churches may not be your thing but this piece of art is unique for the story it remembers and by the people, the family who placed it here. And here it stands some one hundred or so years later.

It is also interesting to note that there is a small exhibition on Scott inside the church and the crucifix that Kathleen Scott, who was an eminent sculptor, designed for her brother on his death in 1924 in now inside having been brought in from his grave in the churchyard for preservation.

A Bronze Crucifix by Kathleen Scott for her brother
A Bronze Crucifix by Kathleen Scott for her brother

a framed saying from Warwickshire