- Anglo-Saxon Window Glass Discovered at Glastonbury Abbey (Somerset)
- Thirteenth-century Windows Sold in Paris
- Llanwarne Roundels Appeal
- Blickling Hall
- Dr Dagmar Täube
Anglo-Saxon Window Glass Discovered at Glastonbury Abbey (Somerset)
New research led by the University of Reading has revealed that finds at Glastonbury Abbey provide the earliest archaeological evidence for glass-making in Britain.
Professor Roberta Gilchrist of the university’s archaeology department has re-examined the records of excavations that took place at Glastonbury in the 1950s and 1960s. Glass furnaces recorded in 1955–57 were previously thought to date from before the Norman Conquest, but radiocarbon dating has now revealed that they date to much earlier, roughly to the 680s, and are likely to be associated with a major rebuilding of the abbey undertaken by King Ine of Wessex. We have documentary records of glass-making at York and Wearmouth for the 670s, but Glastonbury provides the earliest and most substantial archaeological evidence for glass-making in Anglo-Saxon Britain.
The extensive remains of five furnaces have been identified, together with fragments of clay crucibles and glass for window glazing and drinking vessels, mainly of vivid blue-green colour [Fig. 1]. It is likely that specialist glassworkers came from what is now France to work at Glastonbury. The glass will be analysed chemically to provide further information on the sourcing and processing of materials. Professor Gilchrist said: ‘Glastonbury Abbey is a site of international historical importance, but until now the excavations have remained unpublished. The research project reveals new evidence for the early date of the monastery at Glastonbury and charts its development over one thousand years, from the sixth century to its dissolution in the sixteenth century.’ An exhibition at Glastonburg Abbey Museum, ‘From Fire and Earth’, tells the story of the abbey’s pioneering role in medieval crafts and technology, and runs until 16 September 2012.
The full archive of excavations will be brought to publication by Professor Gilchrist, in partnership with the trustees of Glastonbury Abbey, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The radiocarbon dating was funded by the Somerset Archaeology & Natural History Society and the Society for Medieval Archaeology. Specialist analyses of the glass are being undertaken by Dr Hugh Willmott (University of Sheffield) and Dr Kate Welham (University of Bournemouth).
Thirteenth-century Windows Sold in Paris
Two thirteenth-century windows attributed to the Dominican priory in Strasbourg have been acquired by the French state following their auction by Sotheby’s in Paris on 20 April 2012. The Betrayal [Fig. 1] sold for 156,750 EUR (including buyer’s premium), and the Crucifixion [Fig. 2] for 228,750 EUR (including the buyer’s premium). The windows were discussed in our last issue; see Vidimus 59.
French law allows the state to use a right of pre-emption on works of art or private documents of national importance. This means that the state substitutes itself for the last bidder and becomes the buyer. In such a case, a representative of the French State announces the exercise of the pre-emption right immediately after the lot has been sold, and this declaration is recorded in the official sale record. The French state then has fifteen days to confirm the pre-emption decision.
Llanwarne Roundels Appeal
Parishioners in the tiny village of Llanwarne (Herefordshire) have launched a fund-raising appeal to help with the cost of restoring twenty-six Flemish roundels that were given to the church in 1901.
The roundels feature some extremely rare subjects, including scenes from the story of Sorgheloos (sometimes spelt Sorghelos), a late-medieval Dutch morality tale about a young man who squanders his fortune on gambling, loose women and false companions [Fig. 4]. When he becomes penniless, his friends and family desert him and he ends up destitute. Unlike the Christian parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke XV, 11–32), Sorgheloos is rejected when he returns home. It is a harsh warning to the irresponsible and feckless. Sorgheloos has been the subject of a previous Vidimus ‘Name that Roundel’ puzzle; see Vidimus 41.
The glass was donated to the church by the then rector, Walter Baskerville Mynors (1826–1932), after it was removed from the parish church of St Weonard in 1884 by Walter’s younger brother Robert Baskerville Mynors (b.1819), to make way for a memorial window to their mother. The Mynors family lived at nearby Treago Castle, a fortified manor house built c.1500. The glass had been brought to Herefordshire by Walter and Robert’s mother Elizabeth (née Halliday) after she married Peter Mynors (b.1787) in 1817, and came from part of her family’s Somerset estate at Chapel Cleeve.
A fund-raising appeal is being launched in the village over the weekend of 18–20 May. This will include an exhibition and a talk by Dan Humphries of Holywell Glass. Telephone 01981 540825 for more information and tickets.
If anyone would like to contribute to the appeal, please send cheques payable to ‘Llanwarne PCC’ to Anne Hyde Smith, The Old Manor House, Llanwarne HR2 8JE.
The Llanwarne glass is described by William Cole in his Catalogue of Netherlandish and North European Roundels in Britain, CVMA (GB), Summary Catalogue 1, Oxford, 1993, pp. 131–34. The Sorgheloos roundels are also discussed in. J. Berserik and J. M. A. Caen, Silver-Stained Roundels and Unipartite Panels before the French Revolution. Flanders, II: The Provinces of East and West Flanders, Turnhout, 2011.
Important windows, including panels from Steinfeld Abbey, have been cleaned and reinstated as part of a two-year campaign to restore the great hall of Blicking Hall (Norfolk), a mansion near Aylsham that was built in the seventeenth century and is now owned by the National Trust owned.
In 1820, the original great hall was enlarged. As part of the new scheme twelve sixteenth- and seventeenth-century windows were bought from John Christopher Hampp, the leading importer of and dealer in stained glass of the day [Fig. 1]. For further information, see our Special Supplement about the Steinfeld Abbey glass in Vidimus 35.
Dr Dagmar Täube
After fifteen years at the Schnütgen Museum in Cologne, Dr Dagmar Täube has become the new Director of the Draiflessen Collection in Mettingen.
During her time at the Schnütgen Museum, Dr Täube was responsible for curating the marvellous Rheinische Glasmalerei: Meisterwerke der Renaissance exhibition and editing its accompanying two-volume catalogue [Fig. 1]; see Vidimus 8.
We wish her every success in her new post.