The remarkable stained-glass windows, which play a vital role in the architectural ensemble of Christ Church in Lausanne, were made by the London workshop of Clayton & Bell around the turn of the 20th century. Christ Church is fortunate in that parishioners and benefactors at the time endowed it with the Gothic Revival ensemble that is recognised now as an historical treasure, unique in Switzerland.
The great choir window, showing the Passion and Christ crucified, is balanced in the west wall by the Ascension and Christ among His Apostles. The two are linked along the north wall by scenes from the earthly life of Christ.
The Gothic Revival was specifically an English movement: it had parallels with, but was not identical to, similar movements on the Continent, especially in France. John Ruskin was one of its strongest proponents and there was a link with the pre-Raphaelites, although the windows of Christ Church are closer to the medieval artistic canons, especially in the predominance of the white-red-blue colour scheme of late gothic English glass.
That the windows were planned as a series, perhaps even by the architect of the Church, George Street, is shown by their remarkable artistic coherence; they were executed and put in place over a period of about two decades. The two largest, in the west and east walls, were put in between 1878 and 1882. The last of the series, probably Saint Luke and Saint Mark, appear to have been made just before World War I, with Saint Elizabeth and Saint Zachary coming just before.
The quality, both the craftsmanship and the artistic merit, of the work is remarkable. Interestingly, the glass itself had no need for special conservation work — only the supporting elements. This became evident during the urgent restoration work undertaken in the winter of 1995-96 when the buckling of the west window had become so bad that there was real danger of the glass falling. The problems were entirely within the structural elements, particularly the stonework which may have been badly repaired in the 1920’s.
A number of Anglo Swiss families played an important part in the founding of Christ Church and in the life of the church community. These include Charles de Cerjat and the family of William Haldimand, an Anglo-Swiss who had settled back in Switzerland after a banking career in England. Although he died before Christ Church was completed, Haldimand had been an important benefactor of the Croix-d’Ouchy Church, built in 1840 by Henri Fraisse, and where services were originally held. As a good friend of the de Cerjat family, he also participated in the construction of the Asile des aveugles, the well-known local eye hospital. The de Cerjat family donated seven of the remarkable stain glass windows in memory of family members (William, Maria, Elizabeth, Helen, Charles, August and Clarisse).