- Timsbury Glass Survives Fire
- Ancient Lead in York Minster’s Great East Window
- New Book on Medieval York
- BSMGP Summer Lecture and Touring Conference
Timsbury Glass Survives Fire
Important early fifteenth-century glass at the parish church of St Andrew in Timsbury (Hampshire) has survived a terrifying fire that destroyed parts of the ancient roof and bell tower and severely damaged a modern window at the west end made in 1999 by Andrew Taylor FBSMGP (Figs 1–3).
The fire was reported at 7.27am on Sunday 9 March. Six fire crews belonging to the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene and quickly put in a fire-break while tackling the fire directly by removing tiles from the roof. Firefighters used four breathing apparatus, three jets and hose reels to put the fire out. Preliminary findings suggest that the blaze was caused by an electrical fault. The church architect, Gary Seymour RIBA, has said it could take up to a year before the church is operational again.
The medieval glass is arranged in several windows at the eastern end of the church and consists of canopy side-shafts and tops and other assorted fragments, including the blackletter inscriptions ‘Orate p(ro)’ and ‘mag(i)st(r)o’ (Figs 4–6). In 1925, the stained glass historian, John Dolbel Le Couteur (1883–1925) noted similarities between the Timsbury windows and others of a similar date installed in Winchester College and Cathedral. The medieval glass at Winchester College can be attributed to the glass-painting workshop of Thomas of Oxford (d. in or before 1427) with certainty, and Le Couteur suggested that the Timsbury glass could also be his. Anya Heilpern, who is currently researching the glass at Winchester Cathedral, confirms similarities between some of the Timsbury fragments and some of the cathedral glass which may be by the Thomas of Oxford workshop. However, especially in the absence of any figural glass at Timsbury, attribution of this particular glazing scheme to Thomas himself must remain speculative. Modern scholars recognize the need for further detailed research on Thomas of Oxford and those who worked with him, and evidence about Timsbury may emerge during these studies.
J. D. Le Couteur, ‘Ancient glass in Timsbury church’, Journal of Stained Glass, i/2, 36–37
J. H. Harvey and D. G. King, ‘Winchester College stained glass’, Archaeologia, 103 (1971), 149–77
R. Marks, Stained Glass in England during the Middle Ages, Toronto etc., 1993, 171–78
C. Woodforde, The Stained Glass of New College, Oxford, Oxford, 1951
T. Ayers, The Medieval Stained Glass of Merton College, Oxford, CVMA (GB), VI, Oxford, 2013, part 2, pp. 274–82
Vidimus is grateful to Roger Harris (a local parishioner), Anya Heilpern, Julie Jacobs ACIM of Hampshire Fire and Rescue, and Gary Seymour RIBA of Seymour & Bainbridge Architects Ltd. for their help with this article.
Ancient Lead in York Minster’s Great East Window
Lead that has long been suspected to be medieval in a shield in the bottom row of York Minster’s Great East Window has been further revealed during conservation.
The shield in panel 1f depicts the arms of the see of York impaling those of St William of York, an intricate design of red mascles on a gold background (Fig. 1). A small section of lead in the right half (as viewed) of the shield survived the restoration and releading carried out in the 1950s, as well as the damage and repairs of centuries; it may be original to the window, which was created between 1405 and 1408. The lead is likely to have survived due to the complex design of the shield, which would be difficult to dismantle and relead. A few pieces of modern lead have been incorporated into the shield, but the lead surrounding the nine original mascles is ancient, with a narrow profile.
Cleaning carried out by conservators at York Glaziers Trust has removed a build up of cement and dirt, allowing closer examination of the lead. This has confirmed the view that the lead is medieval, and most probably from the original glazing scheme. This would represent the only lead in the whole window believed to be medieval, and will be returned to the window as found. The conservation has also revealed yellow glass enclosed in the hollow red mascles, which was previously obscured (Fig. 2).
See the York Glaziers Trust website for more information on the Great East Window and the conservation project.
New Book on Medieval York
Adding to the already rich bibliography on York, David Palliser’s Medieval York, on the history of England’s second city, covers the 1,000 years from the post-Roman revival of the settlement to the end of the Middle Ages. The book compares York with other similarly sized places in Europe, in terms of its rich heritage of city walls, houses, churches, guildhalls, coinage, art, architecture, stained glass, festivities and religious drama (Fig. 1).
The book provides a survey of the city’s archaeology and history that draws on the numerous studies of particular buildings, sites, periods and themes; in addition, it accommodates much evidence found in recent years that modifies our understanding of what has been published in the past. Acknowledging that there may be more than a grain of truth in older ideas, Palliser paints a detailed picture of post-Roman York in the years 600 to 865 as a corrective to the popular idea life there after the Romans began with the Vikings. Whether discussing the medieval wool trade or ecclesiastical architecture, music, public health, religious drama, or the power struggles of the Wars of the Roses, York comes across in this book as a city state with its own distinctive culture and a proudly independent citizenry.
Medieval York 600—1540, by D M Palliser; ISBN 9780199255849; Oxford University Press, 2014
BSMGP Summer Lecture and Touring Conference
The BSMGP summer lecture will be given by Steve Clare and is entitled ‘An under-appreciated masterpiece: conservation of the great Jesse Tree window in Wells Cathedral’.
The window dates from around 1340 and features an unusual colour palette, predominantly of green and gold. The cleaning and conservation of the glass has enhanced the brilliance of these colours. The window is formed of seven main lights that trace Christ’s genealogy and contain monumental figures of ancestors set on a sinuous vine that grows from the recumbent figure of Jesse at the foot of the central light. At the apex of the central light is the figure of the crucified Christ on a green tau cross, and the tracery has scenes from the Last Judgment (Fig. 1).
Steve Clare first became involved with surveying this window in 1994 when working under the direction of Alfred Fisher at Chapel Studio, but it was fifteen years before the project to conserve the window actually began. The lecture will feature photographs of the window taken from the scaffolding and in the workshop, affording a rare opportunity to glimpse the complex processes of conservation at a conservation studio. The conservation campaign for this window has adhered strictly to the principle of minimal intervention, and the research methods were based on extensive research, including analysis of the restoration history of the window by charting mill marks in the centre of the lead cames, which were cross-referenced with archival material. The lecture aims to detail the painstaking work of the mastercraftsmen and women in the conservation of this beautiful glass, and will show details of the manufacturing process and installation of the protective glazing. This will be the first time these images have been seen.
The lecture will be held on Friday 13 June at the Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT, 6.15 for 6.45pm. Costs – lecture only: members £10, non-members £14, student members £7.50, student non-members £12; supper is an additional £10 per head. For further details and booking, telephone Helen Robinson on 01582 764834, or visit www.bsmgp.org.uk to book and pay online.
See Vidimus 43 for more information on this window.
Touring Conference: East Riding
The 2014 annual autumn touring conference will take place in the East Riding of Yorkshire from Thursday 28 to Sunday 31 August, with an option to stay for a further night. The group will be based in Hull, with accommodation at the University of Hull campus, and the centrepiece of the tour will be Holy Trinity, Hull, one of the largest parish churches in Britain.
The tour will include two large Sylvester Sparrow windows, with one made by him but designed by Walter Crane; a scheme of windows at Hotham designed by Douglas Strachan during the war years of 1938–45; a stunning early Clayton & Bell scheme at St Mary’s, South Dalton; Anning Bell glass at Warter; excellent Morris glass at Welter; work by the Belgian artist Jean-Baptiste Capronnier; as well as examples of 20th-century work by the ‘Yorkshire School’, including Harry Stammers and Harry Harvey. Delegates will also have the opportunity to visit the nearby York and Beverley before heading home. Peter Cormack will guide the group, with Ann Sotheran supplying her local knowledge of the ‘Yorkshire School’ in particular.
See the BSMGP website for booking and more information.