Conservation by The Cathedral Studios, Canterbury
Vandalism rather than age occasionally initiates a major conservation project as it was in the case of St. Mary's Church, Lydiard Tregoze. The church is cram-full of enjoyable furnishings, the most impressive of which is the three light Perpendicular east window which Michael Archer has dated between 1628 and 1631 and attributed to Abraham van Linge.
The window, filled with figures and scenes, is characteristic of the Flemish work that was predominant in England during the second quarter of the 17th century.
The subject of the window includes St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist in the sidelights. They flank an olive tree, from which six coats of arms hang depicting the descent of the manor of Lydiard. The background of the shields consists of delightful pastoral scenes that were seriously vandalised in 1997.
Thankfully photographic records made it possible to reconstruct and restore the panel during the full conservation of the window between May and December 2000. Even the tiniest original fragments were re-used, missing glass was faithfully re-painted, signed, dated and edgebonded to the originals with special resins. During the process, most of earlier repair leads were removed, leaving the panel at least visually in a better shape than before the attack.
The remainder of the window was treated with minimal interference and with the respect due to a masterpiece. The window is now protected with an isothermal glazing which should ensure its survival for many generations to come.