The Glaziers’ Trust

The Glaziers’ Trust – one of Vidimus‘s most generous supporters – is part of The Worshipful Company of Glaziers, one of the City Livery Companies. Here Susan Mathews, Secretary to the Trust, describes its work.

The Trust is delighted to support Vidimus, which helps fulfil one of its primary educational objectives. The Trust was established in 1966 for the advancement of education and the benefit of the public, to further knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the art of stained, etched and other forms of decorative glass and glass mosaic. It aims to encourage and assist members of the public to see fine examples of glass and to promote its study and care. It also maintains a library of books and other reference material and helps to repair and restore stained glass windows of historically important significance.

The Glaziers’ Trust provides grants to applicants both in church and secular areas. The total annual grant available is not large, and its annual budget and most grants are in the range of £3,000- £5,000 but the Trustees, who meet four times a year are dedicated to directing its funds in the most effective way possible. Although most grants are small they can often help in a fund-raising campaign by encouraging other bodies to ‘get on board’.

As its new secretary I have begun to appreciate how wide-ranging are the causes the Trust supports. Before Christmas its charity for the Relief of Need, bought a cooker for a retired glazier who had fallen on hard times. It sponsored three places on stained glass study weekends based respectively in Winchester and Liverpool, organised by The British Society of Master Glass Painters and The Stained Glass Museum. These weekend conferences enable young people to see stained glass in situ, to meet experts in the field and to share their passion with other enthusiasts. The Trust also takes lectures to audiences. Last year, for example, the Glaziers’ Annual Lecture held in London  ‘Lesser known Masterpieces of Medieval Glass’ given by Painton Cowen, was delivered a second time to the students in the  Architectural School of Stained Glass at Swansea Metropolitan University.

In 2008 the Glaziers’ Trust awarded its first bursary to the MA Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management course at the University of York. The student in question achieved an MA with distinction. 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.

Foraging in the archives in the basement of Glaziers’ Hall in London, I am beginning to discover how fascinating and diverse are the projects supported by the Glaziers’ Trust. At its December meeting the Trustees were so impressed at the money-raising efforts of a tiny congregation in north Yorkshire, to restore windows in their church, that a modest grant was given so that Barley Studio could re-create the missing half of  an interesting nineteenth-century window by James Powell and Sons (Whitefriars.)

It is vital for conservators to bring to their work a high degree of skill, knowledge and integrity. The Glaziers’ Trust is very supportive of those professionals accredited by ICON, the Institute of Conservation. For example, in 2009 the Trust awarded St Oswald’s church, Malpas (Cheshire) a grant for the conservation of its outstanding and extensive collection of early sixteenth-century stained glass from the Netherlands. Ruth and Jonathan Cooke have just completed the conservation of the entire set of forty panels. One of the panels, dating from around 1500 and depicting Rebecca and Isaac at the Well, gives an impression of the challenges facing the conservators.

Fig. 1. Rebecca and Isaac at the Well before conservation. ©Jonathan and Ruth Cooke

Fig. 1. Rebecca and Isaac at the Well before conservation. ©Jonathan and Ruth Cooke

Fig. 2. Rebecca and Isaac at the Well after conservation. ©Jonathan and Ruth Cooke

Fig. 2. Rebecca and Isaac at the Well after conservation. ©Jonathan and Ruth Cooke

There were several breaks to glass and lead, damage caused by cobwebs holding moisture against it, and deterioration of the glass itself. There were also pits and scratches on both surfaces of the glass, loss of paint and some unsightly mending leads from an earlier restoration [Fig. 1]. The conservators submitted a report to the Trustees describing the state of the glass and its historical importance and making detailed proposals for its conservation. The dramatic improvement in the condition of the panel following conservation can be seen in Fig. 2. Not only has the glass been carefully cleaned and repaired but its legibility has been much improved by the removal of the unsightly mending leads. 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 long-term survival  of stained glass depends on keeping it safe and dry, and this is greatly improved by means of ventilated and temperature-controlled  glazing – in other words a transparent, protective layer on the outside of the glass. The Glaziers’ Trust strongly supports the use of this form of protection and is pleased to receive applications of this kind.

Finally and looking forward, the Glaziers’ Trust is delighted to lend its support to  the creation of a new window for Southwark Cathedral to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

For more information about the Glaziers’ Trust and The Worshipful Company of Glaziers

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