The Washington Window – Selby, England - Atlas Obscura

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The Washington Window

Selby Abbey
Selby, England

This stained-glass window in an English church bears the coat of arms of George Washington's family. 


High in the south clerestory of the choir in Selby Abbey, an 11th-century church in Yorkshire, England, is a 14th-century stained glass window. The window may look familiar to residents of Washington D.C., as it resembles the District of Columbia flag. It depicts a coat of arms belonging to one of George Washington’s ancestors, the same coat of arms the Washington family used after moving to America.

It’s believed to commemorate senior clergyman, John Wessington, the 15th-century Prior of Durham. Wessington is believed to be the most distinguished of Washington’s ancestors. The coat of arms is comprised of two red bands and three red stars. 

Although it’s large and decorated like a cathedral (the design of Selby Abbey was loosely based on Durham Cathedral), the church is only deemed a parish church. The abbey was the first monastic building established in northern England after the Norman conquest. It’s amazing the building survived the Reformation.

Know Before You Go

This window is not the only important stained glass in the church. The east window is one of the largest examples in England of Jesse Window, which depicts the family tree of Jesus.

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January 20, 2020

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