Vale Abbey Glass Displayed at Chester

Fig. 1. Panel from Vale Royal Abbey.

Fig. 1. Panel from Vale Royal Abbey.

Fragments of fourteenth-century stained glass found during excavations in 1958 from Vale Royal Abbey (Cheshire), a Cistercian monastery built in 1277, are among the items on display in a new exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester. They may have been produced in the glassworks on the abbey’s land referred to in 1346/47, probably at Kingswood, a site that was excavated in 1935 and 1947.

Entitled ‘Discover a Medieval City: Places, Voices, Journeys’, the exhibition explores the role of religion, trade, identity and visitors on medieval life in Chester, through objects and documents. It runs until 22 September 2013. See the website for more information.

Vale Royal Abbey was suppressed in 1538 by Henry VIII as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Much of the abbey, including the church, was subsequently demolished, but some of the cloister buildings were incorporated into a mansion built by Thomas Holcroft, an important government official, during the 1540s. The building remains habitable and contains rooms from the medieval abbey, including the refectory and kitchen. During the mid- to late sixteenth century, Holcroft installed heraldic glass in the house. In 1947, Sir William Burrell purchased 38 of these post-Dissolution panels, which are now exhibited in the museum which bears his name in Glasgow.

To see additional panels from Vale Royal Abbey, visit the CVMA Picture Archive.

Further Reading

P. Hebgin-Barnes, The Medieval Stained Glass of Cheshire, CVMA (GB), Summary Catalogue 9, Oxford, 2010, pp. 243–47

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