In 2009 the Glaziers’ Trust awarded its first bursary of £5,000 to the MA Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management course at the University of York. This two-year innovative course – the only one of its kind in the English-speaking world – offers training in stained glass conservation workshops, heritage management, arts administration, architectural offices, and the administration of historic buildings and museums and is a preparation for higher research degrees. The recipient of this bursary from the Glaziers’ Trust achieved an MA with distinction.
Students at the Stained Glass conservation studio at The King's Manor, The University of York
The Weald & Downland Museum in Sussex is home to an exhibition of historic vernacular buildings. It receives numerous schools and public visits throughout the year and the Worshipful Company of Glaziers has been a supporter for many years, having provided an example of a traditional glazing workshop in Court Barn, where the Plumbers' and Masons' Companies also exhibit. In 2011 a grant of £1,000 was awarded to enable the museum to upgrade a craft display in a new indoor location for schools.
In 2009 the Trust awarded St Oswald's Church, Malpas, Cheshire, a £5,000 grant for the conservation of its outstanding and extensive collection of early sixteenth-century satined glass from he Netherlands. One of he panels, dating from around 1500 and depicting Rebecca and Isaac at the Well illustrates the challenges facing the conservators Jonathan and Ruth Cooke.
In their report the conservators described the state of the glass and its historical importance and made detailed proposals for its conservation. The dramatic improvement in the condition of the panel following conservation can be seen in the above "before and after" images. Photographs © Jonathan and Ruth Cooke.
The panel, which dates from around 1500, has now been returned to the north wall of the family chapel where it forms part of a series of over forty panels presented to the church by the Marquis of Cholmondley in 1956. They were re-instated in a ventilated and temperature-controlled glazing scheme.
The untiring enthusiasm of a tiny congregation in north Yorkshire led to a successful grant-application to the Glaziers’ Trust in 2010. A grant of £1,000 to the church of St Thomas, Green Hammerton helped to restore the missing half of an interesting nineteenth-century window by James Powell and Sons (Whitefriars.).
The Church of St Mary the Virgin in Patrixbourne dates from the beginning of the 13th century. It possesses a glorious collection of 16th and 17th century Renaissance Swiss glass stained glass given to the church by the Conyngham family in 1837. By 1994 this glass required both conservation and protection. Reports carried out in 1994 and 1997 expressed concern about the condition of the painted decoration, particularly as condensation was observed on the inside of the glass. An additional concern was that the panels were bowing and the reports recommended the installation of environmental protection to the outside.
The total cost to restore, conserve and provide environmental protection for the stained glass of the east window was £32,000. The Glaziers’ Trust awarded a grant of £1,500 in 1997 specifically for work on the east window.
Whilst money was being raised the church was beset by further problems. In April 2007 the church was visited by scrap metal thieves, and all the copper wire grilles were stolen, including those protecting the Renaissance glass in the south aisle. Thankfully, no damage was done to the stained glass. Then in July 2007 a large fragment of glass fell out of the central light of the east window.
The necessity to intervene twice within a few months with temporary safety measures made it clear that the conservation and protection of these precious windows could not be put off any longer. Canterbury Cathedral Studios were appointed to carry out the work and after making a thorough assessment of the east window in May 2009. Over the following year an intensive programme of conservation was undertaken requiring a team of expert conservators. Before work could start research had to be undertaken and for this the Archives at the Vitrocentre of stained glass at Romont in Switzerland was an extremely useful source.
Stained glass panel from the east window before and after conservation. Photograph © The Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral
Once removed to the studio the glass itself had to be carefully cleaned, lost areas of stained glass had to be expertly created using resin or matching modern glass. Other fragile paint needed to be consolidated to avoid further losses. Before returning to the church careful records of all the interventions were made and photographs taken. Finally almost a year to the day the stained glass was returned to the church in May 2010 and protected by protected by external glazing.
The Congregation of the church were delighted now the project is complete as the windows not only appear much brighter but more of their intricate detail is visible.