Three Scenes from the Life of Christ by the London glass-painter Andrew Hall
St Kenelm’s, at Church Enstone in Oxfordshire, a few miles north of Woodstock, has an unusual window of three lights containing three scenes from the life of Christ. From left to right they are the Nativity (or Adoration of the Shepherds), the Crucifixion and the Ascension (Fig. 1). The three scenes are an interesting if damaged example of early modern painted glass, combining pot-metal glass for large areas of colour (e.g., red, blue and purple robes) with much enamel-work. But who painted them, and when? Pevsner’s Oxfordshire guide hedges its bets with a wide dating range followed by a rhetorical question: ‘Stained glass: in the south aisle E window: Crucifixion and Nativity, in the painterly style of the C17 or C18. Is this the glass which was removed from the E window in the C19, said to have been signed by A Hall and dated 1637?’ This hesitant description is by Pevsner’s co-author Jennifer Sherwood, and is repeated in her own Guide to Oxfordshire Churches.
Various letters and numbers, putatively the remnants of the artist’s signature, can still be found on rocks around the foot of the cross and below the manger, but they are hard to decipher without further help. Luckily we have the testimony of two Victorian clergymen that in their day the glass was signed ‘A Hall 1637’. One of them, the Revd John Jordan, also mentions a second autograph, ‘A.H. 1637’, and says the signatures are on ‘representations of stones’. The ghost of a cursive ‘A’ can indeed be made out in the Crucifixion on a large stone at St Mary’s feet (Fig. 2). The crossbar of the ‘A’ continues to the right, suggesting that it originally formed a conjoined AH monogram, part of it faintly visible in a detached fragment. The date ‘…37’ is partly visible in black paint on another detached triangular piece below and to the right. Examination of the large rectangular block below the manger in the Nativity reveals the shadow of a second monogram of the same kind, which Mr Jordan missed (Fig. 3). This is now the clearer of the two, and we can see that it is composed of all the individual letters in Hall’s name, A+H+A+L, with a second cursive flourish on the L. It is oddly reminiscent of the A+V+L monogram used by Abraham van Linge, which Hall may have seen somewhere.
Part of the full signature noted by both clergymen may also have survived on an oval stone between St John’s leg and the base of the cross (Fig. 4). The capital letters A+L are still visible, with the date ‘16–’ below them and somewhat to the left. Nothing similar has so far been detected in the Ascension, but the monogram below the Crucifixion may have been displaced at some stage. The group of stones in which it appears partly obliterates the skull at the foot of the cross, which seems unlikely to have been Hall’s intention (Fig. 5).
All these marks are badly eroded, and their interpretation uncertain, but careful restoration of the glass may well recover further detail. For instance, removal of the repair leads in the glass shown in Fig. 2 may well reveal this to be ‘A+Hall’.
Even without a name or date it would make sense to place this glass in the first half of the seventeenth century, during the revival of biblical glass-painting associated with Archbishop William Laud, and before Parliament began moves in 1640 to reintroduce a ban on ‘superstitious images’. The fragmentary inscription below the Crucifixion is typical of the period, written in elegant Roman capitals and lower case, with hooked serifs on the terminal letter ‘s’ and a pointed, bent-over top to the letter ‘t’ (see Fig. 10). The artist treats his subject in the modern manner of his day, painting his detail and background in a wide range of enamel colours, while still employing considerable quantities of coloured (pot-metal) glass for the main areas of drapery – in this case blue, red and purple.
Although his sources have not been traced, Hall’s images probably derived from print copies of contemporary or fairly recent Netherlandish paintings. The Nativity (Fig. 6) has particularly distinctive features that may help identify these – for instance, the stable window with its view onto a wintry northern landscape (Fig. 7); and the disposition of the beasts, with the ox low down in the left foreground, and the ass at top right, sneaking some extra fodder from the hopper (Fig. 8). The image may well have been reversed in copying, so that in the original the ass may be top left and the ox low down to the right.
The Crucifixion, with Sts Mary and John, is conventional and somewhat stilted, but the Ascension is again portrayed in a lively manner, with much individual character in the upturned faces of the Apostles gathered around the Mount (Fig. 9).
What remains of Hall’s glass at Enstone is now displayed in a window of three lights with cusped heads in the east wall of the south aisle. Its base is well over six feet from the floor, which may explain why it has escaped closer examination in modern times. The glass was in the east window of the chancel when the Revd John Jordan described it in his Parochial History of Enstone. The chancel itself had recently escaped a Victorian make-over by G. E. Street, who confined his attentions to the body of the church. The glass was moved to the south aisle in the 1870s – presumably with its accompanying stonework, since Jordan noted that even in his day it was not in its original frame – and probably suffered damage in the process. One clue to its original form is the incomplete Latin quotation from chapter 53 of Isaiah, arranged on two lines over four panes with the remains of a yellow stain border (Fig. 10): ‘[C]astigatio pacis no[st]rae super Eum [et] | [liv]ore eius [sanati su]mus. Esa. 53.’ (‘The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with his stripes we are healed.’)
It would take another two panes – one on each side – to complete the inscription and border, and the scene itself must have been trimmed to the same extent. Its original width would have allowed the complete figures of the two saints to be included with room to spare. Similarly, the two outer lights have clearly lost substantial parts of the figures grouped around the manger and the Ascension witnesses, and presumably both also had biblical inscriptions below them. Otherwise these two scenes appear more or less complete – there is nothing obviously missing that could account for the large areas of white glass above them. Curved leads over the Nativity and Crucifixion suggest that all three scenes originally occupied similar, relatively broad, arched openings. Taking all these factors into account, one can visualise a group of round-headed windows, the middle light much taller than the others, and probably designed for a gable-end (Fig. 11).
History of the Glass
Nothing is known of the origins of Hall’s window, and it is far from clear that it was made for Enstone. Possibly it came from a private chapel in a neighbouring county. The Oxford antiquarian Anthony Wood did not record it when he visited the church in the later seventeenth century, but it does not turn up anywhere else among his extensive notes on Oxfordshire houses and churches either. Admittedly Wood’s main interest lay in memorial inscriptions, and most of the glass he did record was armorial. However, he was also a Latinist, and may well have been prompted to note the inscriptions below the biblical images. Hall’s window had certainly reached Enstone by 1718, when it was recorded by Richard Rawlinson, along with another window (now lost) thought to reflect Enstone’s former links with Winchcombe Abbey: ‘In the east window of the chancell are painted the Crucifixion, Resurrection &c. | In the east window of the north Ile are three figures not improbably those of an abbot and on each side of him a monk.’
The fullest account of the window and its inscriptions – including Hall’s signatures – is that given in 1857 by the Revd John Jordan, a vicar of Enstone: ‘Whatever painted glass there may have been in the church before the time of the Commonwealth, when these things were much destroyed, there is none now remaining anywhere except in the Chancel, and that of the very age when destruction was rife. The date is given in two places in the central part of the window, in representations of stones, thus: A.H.1637. A. Hall 1637. The window is one of three lights, and the glass was originally designed for a similar one, though with a different head. The left-hand light contains a picture of the Adoration of the infant Jesus by the Shepherds in the stable at Bethlehem. The middle one represents Christ on the Cross with the scroll I.N.R.I., for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Beside the cross on either hand are standing Mary the Mother of Jesus and John the disciple whom Jesus loved. Underneath this representation are these words: Castigatio pacis nostrae super eum & livore ejus sanati sumus. Esa. liii. [sic] 5. In English this is, “The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed”. Isaiah liii.5. The third, or right hand window, represents the Ascension of our Lord, in which a part only of his figure and his feet are seen passing into the clouds, which received him out of the sight of his disciples, while these are seen in a considerable number formed in a circle upon the earth, from the midst of which he has passed away into the heavens.’
Jordan’s attribution to Hall is confirmed by the following brief description given eleven years later by another clergyman, Edward Marshall: ‘The chancel, of which the walls are presumed to be of Early English date from the string course of that character which runs along them on the exterior, has Perpendicular windows, square headed, on the north and south sides, with a modern one at the east end, which is apparently an imitation of an Early English window of three lights in that position. This contains the remains of some painted glass, the left hand light having the Adoration of the Shepherds, the central the Crucifixion, and the right hand the Ascension. It has inscribed “A. Hall. 1637”.’
Shortly after this was published, the window was moved to its present position. Since then a gentle fog of obscurity has fallen on it, assisted by its awkward height and the general lack of interest (until comparatively recently) in English glass of the post-Reformation period.
There can be little doubt that the Enstone glass is the work of Andrew Hall, who was active as an armorial glass-painter in London at least from the early 1640s until his death about 1664. It provides the first evidence that Hall had reached artistic maturity in time to take part in the early seventeenth-century revival of religious imagery. So far the Enstone window is his only known large-scale work in this vein. In 2006, however, NADFAS church recorders reported another figurative work by Hall, a monochrome roundel of St Luke with his ox, dating from 1642 (Fig. 12).
The saint is depicted as the gospel writer, rather than as the painter said to have captured the likeness of the Virgin Mary, but his palette and brushes are close at hand. Although possibly one of a set of four Evangelists, it also looks as if it could be a personal portrait, and certainly shows Hall’s considerable skill in small-scale work. This charming work is hidden away in a vestry window at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford, displayed alongside a glass portrait of Beethoven. How this unlikely couple came to be there is uncertain, but they are said to have been donated by Canon Ernest Cecil Kirwan, who was Rector from 1907 until his death in 1936, and for the last five years Provost of Guildford Cathedral, which at the time occupied Holy Trinity. According to the NADFAS team leader, Michael Wilson, Kirwan was reputed to have acquired the glass from a senior clergyman under whom he had served as a curate. Judging from his entry in Crockford’s, this could only have happened at Bracknell, where Kirwan was curate 1891–93, or at Holy Trinity itself, where he served as curate 1893–1901. (From 1901 to 1907, Kirwan was himself Vicar of Yorktown with Camberley). The signature on the glass is reasonably consistent with what remains of Hall’s marks on the Enstone glass, as can be seen in Fig. 13.
Andrew Hall belonged to the small group of artists, headed by Richard Butler (d.1638) and Baptist Sutton (c.1600 – 1667) who made Holborn, with its Inns of Court and similar establishments, the main centre of London glass-painting from about 1620 onwards. Though relatively short-lived, Hall clearly belonged to a younger generation and, as he is not mentioned in Butler’s will, could well have been one of Sutton’s apprentices and assistants. He may have been the son of Francis Hall, who is briefly recorded as a glass-painter in the accounts of the Inner Temple for 1621–22. As an armorial glass-painter Hall first appears at the Inner Temple in 1640–41, in a role previously undertaken by Butler, and working initially alongside Butler’s former assistant:
To Hugh Pember and Andrew Hall, for making and setting up in painted glass in the hall window the lord keeper’s and the Master of the Rolls’ arms, and mending other coats £3 6s
His last appearance there was in 1661–62, following the restoration of the monarchy:
To Hall, for painting and setting up the Duke of York’s arms in the hall window £3
Unfortunately none of the old glass at the Inner Temple has survived. Hall’s opposite number at the Middle Temple was Baptist Sutton, and the two men probably collaborated on work in the Temple Church, which the Temple Inns used as their joint chapel. When Sutton gave up glass-painting around 1661, Hall succeeded him at the Middle Temple. In 1661/62, Hall was commissioned to paint the arms of Edward Hyde, who had been created Earl of Clarendon in 1661 by a grateful King Charles II. Hyde’s previous panel, its inscription newly updated by Sutton, would no longer do, and Hall was paid £3 to paint Clarendon’s arms, supporters and mantling. Hall worked on seven armorials during his brief career at the Middle Temple, and this is the most impressive of the two or three that survive (Fig. 14). For some reason, Clarendon’s escutcheon was replaced in 1666, and this was done by Thomas Crofts, Hall’s successor for a brief period. Surprisingly, it is in pot-metal, and has been re-installed back to front at some stage.
Andrew Hall and Frances Harding were married at the Temple Church on 13 July 1647. They later settled in Magpie Lane, off Fetter Lane, and had a number of children baptised at St Andrew’s Holborn, between 1656 and 1663. There is an unexplained gap of nine years here, but there is also a record of the burial of a Rebecca Hall, ‘daughter of Andrew Hall, glazier’, the date of whose baptism has not so far been established, so there may have been other older children as well. Andrew’s early death, between 1663 and 1666, – perhaps in the Great Plague of 1665 – evidently left Frances coping with a young family, though nothing is known about how they fared.
My thanks to Brian Sprakes for supplying details of Hall’s Middle Temple panel, and to Martin Harrison for drawing my attention to the St Luke at Guildford.
Further Reading and Sources
Geoffrey Lane, ‘A World Turned Upside Down: London Glass-painters 1600-1660’, The Journal of Stained Glass, xxix, 2005, pp. 45–75
Jennifer Sherwood, Guide to the Churches of Oxfordshire, Oxford, 1989
John Jordan, Parochial History of Enstone, London and Oxford, 1857, p. 181
Edward Marshall, An Account of the Township of Church Enstone, Oxford and London, 1868, p. 49
Anthony Wood’s description of Enstone Church may be found in Bodleian Library, Wood MS, E.1 f.156. Richard Rawlinson’s description may be found in Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MSS, RAWL B 400f, f.290.