Saved: window that was model for US flag
AMERICAN benefactors have paid to restore a North Yorkshire church's 14th-century stained-glass window, the design of which is thought to have been the model for the Stars and Stripes.
The window at Selby Abbey was donated by the English ancestors of George Washington, the first president of the United States. It shows the coat of arms of his forebears, the de Wessyngtons, which depicts three spiked spur wheels above two red bars across a white shield. Washington is known to have used the heraldic device on two of his personal seals and a bookplate.
Officials at the abbey used the link with America to raise funds across the Atlantic as part of a long-running campaign to raise pounds 6 million for restoration work.
Three donors, including a charitable trust and British American Tobacco, agreed to donate pounds 100,000 for specialist cleaning and re-leading of the medieval glass.
Brig Jeremy Gaskell, the director of the appeal, said: "We are really pleased to have got the Washington Window project fully funded by American donors. Visitor numbers have doubled since we started the appeal almost six years ago.''
Wessyngton, which had various spellings until it evolved into Washington, comes from the Anglo Saxon Hwaes, a Saxon chief's name, inga, meaning "family of'', and tun, an estate.
Historians believe the coat of arms was probably included in the window to commemorate John Wessington, a medieval Prior of Durham.
He also decorated the battlements of the tower with a frieze of washing tubs or tuns, a rebus - or visual pun - on his name.
The Stars and Stripes, with 13 stars arranged in a circle and 13 red and white stripes representing the original 13 colonies, became the official flag of the United States on June 14, 1777.
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