knox grammar school


Inspiration: the windows of the William McIlrath War Memorial Chapel

The windows of the William McIlrath War Memorial Chapel tell intricate stories.

When the Chapel was opened in 1962 it contained one stained glass window designed and installed by artist David Saunders of Eroica Studios – read a short history here.

The East Window (Sanctuary Window)

This was the first stained glass window. It was the gift of Dr Winston Smith and Mrs Helen Smith (daughter of Mr William McIlrath, School Council member 1923-1955); it depicts the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

  1. Born in a stable - cave-ox and ass-star
  2. At a Church School - what He used, what He wrote
  3. In the Temple - lamp with seven branches - the law, four square
  4. His carpenter's workshop
  5. With the fishermen
  6. Teaching - building on rock - heart - mind (light)
  7. Dinner in a rich man's house
  8. Healing
  9. The Old and the New - tables of Law - Dawn - Bible - new light

Top, Centre: Guards' helmets - tomb empty - rays of light - the Cross - crown.

Left: Vine and cup

Right: Wheat and loaf

The West Window (Christian Service Window)

This was the gift of the Old Knox Grammarians' Association. Its theme challenges youth to apply Christian ideals to their whole lives. It was unveiled in 1964 and stands as a memorial to those who laid down their lives for these ideals.

Christ, the Supreme Example of Service

  1. Under the cross of triumph and Greek insignia for Christ is the vine whose branches extend through the remaining 11 panels, each of which represents the fruits of the vine, and illustrates the power and influence of Christianity throughout life.

2 / 3. Church and School strive to challenge youth with these ideals.

Service to the Community

  1. Voluntary service to others both locally and throughout the world.
  2. Service to authority.
  3. Emergency service through service organisations.

Need to Set up Christian Home

  1. The three links symbolising mother, father and child invited under the guiding influence of the Bible.
  2. Aspects of neighbourliness and friendliness regardless of race, highlighted with the thought of giving and receiving lighted with the thought of giving and receiving.
  3. Depicts the need to approach recreation in a wholesome atmosphere.

Man's Attitude to Work

10 / 11 / 12. The fruits of the vine are found in man’s attitude towards his livelihood, whether he earns his living with his hands or with his mind. The man of Science in the centre binds both.

The fact that Christ is the supreme example is stressed by the cross woven into the background of the panels. These panels have at their foot the reminder that they are a Memorial to those who gave their lives in the service of their country.

Viewing the window conveys man’s rights and responsibilities in a free world to work, live and serve his family and fellowman in the widest possible sense under the daily influence of Christ.

The first South Window (The Prodigal Son Window)

In 1987, building on an idea for a window to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the opening of the War Memorial Chapel, the School Council asked David Saunders to determine a vision for eight more stained glass windows.

David Saunders proposed four South Windows depicting the parable of the Prodigal Son, representing the spiritual building blocks – the implications of becoming aware of one’s own need for redemption and reconciliation with God through the life and example of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is depicted in the Sanctuary Window.


1 / 2 / 3. Rejoicing in Heaven over the lost now reconciled to the Father. The rings symbolise Unity.


  1. Adam & Eve, the first Prodigals, are tempted - Eve to take the apple while the

sword of God's Truth cries against this prospect.

  1. Eve has taken the apple and Adam has consented so each now contemplates the sins committed - each a little different but their relationship of Trust with God is broken.
  2. They are banished, with the serpent, from the Garden of Eden.


  1. Having squandered his inheritance (birthright) - symbolised in food and money (security) he was prepared to eat the food the swine ate.
  2. During this time of worldliness (asleep) he reflects upon his state of poverty and ultimately upon his Father's greatness and ability to provide. This is represented in the form of a dream. A small seed, a
    shoot, a bud of a flower - represents the kind of person God intended him to blossom into - his true identity. The eye of God is in the background.
  3. The thought of journeying home and of accepting the cross as a consequence is still hazy. But, while unsure, he has at least picked himself up and put himself on the other side of the fence. He is still
    utterly ashamed of his condition so hides behind the cross.


  1. He has now resolved to 'arise' and go to my Father'. The shackles (chain of old self) are being broken and the free spirit (dove) emerging.
  2. The idea of changing from what he has become to what he'd like to be develops like the embryo in the mother's womb - the new child of God. His first life (old self) is giving rise to a new hope (new
  3. Again, the shackles (old self) are broken and a new heart separates itself from the old - all identified with the cross of victory.
The first North Window (Founders' Window)

Four North windows depict the School, representing the building blocks in the life, work and development of the School and the first is the Founders' Window.

1. Balance

Ingredients essential to a healthy education -spiritual, academic, social and physical; symbolised by the scales. McIlrath and Gillespie were founders and financial supporters of the School.

2. Growth

The hand, symbol of caring; the seed, implementing of ideas; Fire, symbol of Truth and Wisdom. The true (Holy Spirit) symbol of development and growth: becoming a whole person. Gilmore

was the Presbyterian Minister who initiated the idea of the School.

3. Direction

The sea represents the world. The lighthouse - our navigational skills obtained through spiritual and academic wisdom. Reid was another founder and financial supporter of the School.

4. Cultivation

Strong roots are important. The tree (the boy) is planted in soil, but the quality of the fruit is all important. The original School property (Mackellar) contained an orchard and Gillespie Field was an orchard.

5. Progress

Reading for fulfillment and achievement. The hat of academic success and the Crown of Righteousness. Both ladder and steps form the saltire cross as the School's origin was Presbyterian.

6. Acquisition

A large house and two small cottages were purchased from Dorothea Mackellar's family. The area was 12 acres and included an orchard

7. Reward

Sheaves of wheat and laurel wreath - "That which you sow you shall reap". Staff and pupils have received personal and collective rewards since the foundation.

8. Authority

Man - a sign of office; art - symbol of sovereignty, Hat and scroll - academic achievement. MacNeil was the School's foundation Headmaster.

9. Foundation

In 1924, with symbols of instruments and drawing paper suggesting planning and preparation.

10. Commitment

Symbolised by the clock, money bag and hand-giving time, money, and oneself.

11. Challenge

Symbolised by hurdles - overcoming obstacles.

12. Devotion

Symbolised by hands praying, book (study), and candle (illumination) - seeking God's help in all matters. Searching getting answers and putting oneself entirely behind the task.

Extract from pamphlets 'Knox Grammar School, War Memorial Chapel - The Windows' and archivist notes.

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