There was a Catholic chapel on the RAF base at Lyneham from at least 1964. By 1968 the brick built church of Saint Joseph had been constructed in Preston Lane, Lyneham.
In 1968 the stained glass artist Geoffrey A. K. Robinson, a Fellow of The British Society of Master Glass Painters, was commissioned to design and produce stained glass panels to be incorporated into Saint Joseph’s Church. Geoffrey A. K. Robinson was the son of the renowned stained glass artist Arnold Wathen Robinson and was a director and owner of the stained glass window production company Joseph Bell and Sons of Bristol. Geoffrey A. K. Robinson had already designed stained glass windows for numerous churches in the West Country and South Wales.
In Volume XIV of ‘The Journal of Stained Glass’, Geoffrey A. K. Robinson wrote of these windows as follows:
“I was successful in a limited tender to design windows for a new Roman Catholic Church at RAF Station, Lyneham, Wiltshire. There are eight single-light Nave windows in cast glass and epoxy resin, six of which incorporate leaded antique glass panels. There is a colour progression as one goes from West to East, from whites through greens to blues and purples, finally culminating in two East windows of extreme richness of rubies and purples, tempered however with neutrals and olive greens. Also for this church a sanctuary window incorporating the Tabernacle in white, yellow and orange cast glass and resin and a leaded glass Christus Rex suspended above the altar.”
Following the last regular celebration of Sunday Mass at Saint Joseph’s on 25th May 2008, the decommissioning of Saint Joseph’s Church took place in 2009. The stained glass was removed at the time of the building’s demolition in 2011 and acquired by Saint Edmund’s Parish in March 2011.
The antique leaded panels and the leaded Christus Rex panel were reworked by the local stained glass artist Andrew Taylor, Fellow of The British Society of Master Glass Painters, and installed above new oak entrance doors at Saint Edmund’s Church on 3rd March 2012. This stained glass panel and new entrance doors were blessed by Monsignor Canon Richard Twomey on 11th March 2012, the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the laying of the church’s Foundation Stone.
This photograph shows the local stained glass artist Andrew Taylor, Fellow of The British Society of Master Glass Painters, working on the Christus Rex panel prior to its instillation above the main entrance doors of the church.
This photograph shows the stained glass artist Andrew Taylor, along with two parishioners installing the Christus Rex panel above the main entrance doors of the church on 3rd March 2012.
On the Feast of Saint Edmund, 16th November 2014 the stained glass windows at the church were blessed at a Mass concelebrated by the Parish Priest, Father Michael Walsh and the Principal R.A.F. Roman Catholic Chaplain the Reverend (Wing Commander) James Caulfield. At the Mass a special plaque was blessed in memory of the ten personnel on board Hercules XV179 who lost their lives when the Hercules was lost to enemy action in January 2005. The plaque is on display in the church porch.
The Lyneham C130K Hercules, XV179, from 47 Squadron, having left Baghdad was flying to Balard in Iraq on 30th January 2005. The aircraft, call sign Hilton 22, together with its crew of nine and one soldier was lost to enemy action; this was the biggest single loss of life in Operation Tellic. The ten members Service Personnel are remembered in the ten stained glass windows which were originally at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church, Lyneham, and are now installed within the sanctuary at Saint Edmund’s Church.
The names of the Service Personnel are recorded on the plaque:
Flight Lieutenant David Stead
Flight Lieutenant Andrew Smith
Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel
Master Aircrew Garry Nicholson
Fight Sergeant Mark Gibson
Chief Technician Richard Brown
Sergeant Robert O’Connor
Squadron Leader Patrick Marshall
Corporal David Williams
Lance Corporal Stephen Jones
The stained glass panels can be seen in their original setting.