Student Scholarship - Grant to the University of York
In September 2010, I embarked upon a change of career by enrolling on the MA in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management, at the University of York, with a Glaziers Trust scholarship. Whilst I had created private stained glass commissions since completing my B.A degree in 1997, conservation was an area in which I had little experience.
This situation was soon to be rectified.
Over the next two years, the academic coursework transformed my knowledge and understanding of conservation principles, ethics, best practice, art historical research, and the history of stained glass technique and conservation in Britain and Northern Europe. As well as learning about the latest advances in stained glass conservation, a third of the modules focused on ethics and principles across the conservation sector. Studying cultural heritage management enabled me to contextualise my learning and appreciate how the needs and requirements of glass conservation necessarily fit into the larger picture of funding, building aesthetics and repair.
The first year provided a 4-month practical work placement which I undertook at Atelier Rambaut in Ghent, Belgium. I also embarked upon two extra-curricular placements with the Barley Studio, York and Canterbury Cathedral workshops. During my time with each of these prestigious studios, I developed sound skills in practical stained glass conservation and documentation to complement the academic knowledge I had gained.
In September 2012, I completed the MA with distinction, and won the Nikolas Baker Award for my dissertation on The Stained Glass Legacy of Jean-Baptiste Capronnier in the Parish Churches of Yorkshire.
Subsequently, I have been lucky enough to find continuous employment as an Independent Conservator at various studios in Belgium and Germany.
I am extremely grateful to the Glazier’s Trust for their kind support during my studies, which has enabled me to begin my new and exciting career in Stained Glass Conservation.
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 2010 the church St Mary and St Nicholas, Wilton applied for a grant from The Glaziers Trust to restore and conserve some of the remarkable stained glass. In view of the enormous historical importance of the stained glass there was little hesitation in awarding a grant of £3,000 towards a preliminary phase of work on the north apse windows. Salisbury Cathedral Stained Glass Studio was appointed by the church to undertake this important work.
The church constructed between 1841-1844 was built at the instigation of the Dowager Countess of Pembroke and her son, Lord Herbert Lea on the site of the medieval church of St Nicholas. It contains an internationally important collection of medieval stained glass, much of it having been bought at auction for the new building. The ancient glass is of French, German, Swiss and English origin from places such as St Denis, St.Germain-des-Pres, in Paris, and Rouen Cathedral, #presumably removed during the French Revolution#. It subsequently found its way into private hands and auction houses.
It wasn’t long after this remarkable collection of stained glass at St Mary & St Nicholas was installed, that problems of damp and air pollution took effect. There was some evidence that the stained glass had been removed during WW2 for safekeeping. Sadly this attempt at protection may have made matters worse. It is thought that it may have been stored at Chilmark Quarry near Wilton. Not only was the glass a victim of damp once again, it seems that it was damaged by people unfamiliar with the fragility of stained glass – carrying the panels like trays rather than as curtains – causing the panels to crack and bow.
Salisbury Cathedral Stained Glass studio has been involved with the church since 2001. Following a Quinquennial Report on the church in 2005, alarm was raised about the state of the stained glass, and the studio began monitoring the effect of damp on the glass, considering ways of arresting it and in providing a protective environment for the glass to ensure its long-term survival.
A painstaking programme of conservation with minimum intervention has followed. It was decided to introduce internally vented secondary glazing to provide a condensation free environment for the precious stained glass and protection from impact and theft from the outside.
A further positive benefit of having stained glass on the bench has been the opportunity for close observation and analysis . Although already recorded in the RCHME volume of SE Wilts churches, for Salisbury, further study has revealed a number of new discoveries which will be published in the near future.
A service of re-dedication of the windows by the Bishop of Salisbury took place in October 2012 and was attended by the Master and members of the Company of Glaziers.