Margaret Sandbach window, Llangernyw

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Margaret Sandbach window, St Digain’s Church

In the south transept of Llangernyw church is a memorial window for Margaret Sandbach (1812-1852). She was a poet, and a friend and patron of the sculptor John Gibson.

Samuel Sandbach of Liverpool bought the Hafodunos Estate, on the western outskirts of Llangernyw, in 1830. His son Henry Robertson Sandbach married Margaret Roscoe two years later. Margaret’s writing includes poems inspired by places or events in Llangernyw.

She met the great sculptor John Gibson, who was born in Conwy, while on a visit to Rome, where he lived. Her grandfather, William Roscoe, had been one of the first to recognise the young sculptor’s talents and commission work from him. In 1842 Henry commissioned Gibson to create a sculpture of Aurora for his wife. The marble figure is now at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (click here to see a photo of it on the museum’s website). Margaret had a gallery built onto their house at Hafodunos to display her collection of sculpture. Gibson advised that the roof of the octagonal gallery should admit light, to illuminate the sculptures well.

Margaret underwent a mastectomy but died of breast cancer in 1852. Gibson carved a monument to her which is now at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (photo on Victorian Web here). He in turn is commemorated by a bust in St Mary’s Church, Conwy.

Henry commissioned this memorial window from Ballantine & Allan of Edinburgh. Its theme is the virtues of faith, charity, hope and brotherly kindness. Historian Mark Baker has identified one of the women depicted – in the left-hand section – as Margaret Sandbach.

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