Design for War

Design for War - Body

About this Object

While sometimes stained glass windows are purely decorative, more often they were intended to instruct by depicting symbolic or religious themes, much like in the stained glass windows found in places of worship around the globe. If a person couldn’t read their religious text, they would still be able to “read” the stories being told in the windows. Geometric patterns had a similar purpose, their intricacy being a thing to focus on during meditation or prayer. The one thing most stained glass windows have in common is that their images or patterns are made up of many pieces of different colored glass that fit together like a puzzle. The pieces are then joined together by thin strips of lead.

Click here to see how that looks close up.

Click here to learn more.

This memorial window was commissioned to honor “the village boys who fell” in the First World War (1914-1918). It was installed symbolically in the east wall of Allithwaite church in 1922. Click here to learn more about this.

Helpful Terms

Light – the vertical (tall, narrow) sections or panels of the window, separated by mullions

Mullion – the stone strip dividing the lights of a window

Tracery – ornamental stone openwork elements that support the glass

Cartoon – the final working drawing that serves as the “map” of the image to show how all the glass pieces will fit together when assembled

More to Explore...


  • Recreate a window by drawing your own empty shapes (these are your lights). You can rearrange your shapes in different ways until you find the overall window layout you like best.
  • Now that you’ve arranged your lights into a window, tell a story by drawing your ideas into the blank shapes…or, choose a theme for your window. Examples of themes could be a collection of your favorite things, or the steps for making pizza!
  • Each scene of your story or theme would go into the different shapes, or lights.
  • Try to think about how the colors will look when light shines through your stained glass. You can also hold your paper up to the light to see how the colors you’ve chosen will look.

Level Up

Transfer your completed cartoon onto tracing paper and hold that up to a window to see an even more dramatic effect.

Question Corner

  • Who or what was the “star” of your story? If it was you, did you change clothes for each scene, or wear the same ones so others would know it was the same person throughout the story?
  • Was your story imaginary, or was it based on real life? Did it include your family or friends? Maybe you went with the theme idea instead. Good choice!
  • What overall shape did your window end up like? Was it arched like this one? Square? Round?
  • Did you have a favorite scene? Would the story continue into other windows (groupings of lights)? Do you think your story would make a great creative writing project?