Some Sixteenth-Century Heraldic Glass-Painting in Norfolk
Glass-Painting in Post-Reformation Norwich: the Demand for Heraldry
As is well-known, the Reformation brought about profound changes in attitudes to religious imagery. Stained glass was initially not so much affected by the resulting iconoclasm as other artistic media, but in 1547 the young Edward VI issued a set of injunctions of which number 28 reads: ‘Also that they shall take away … & destroy all shrines … pictures, paintings and all other monuments of feigned miracles … so that there remain no memory of the same in walls, glass-windows, or elsewhere within their churches or houses’. A careful reading of this could justify the retention of glass not depicting ‘feigned miracles’, but in the following year a further royal proclamation and an instruction from archbishop Cranmer required the removal of all images from places of worship. These measures were more severe than those taken against imagery in Germany and Switzerland, and local iconoclastic zeal often went further than official policy. It is hard to imagine the extent of the effect of these measures on the craft of glass painting. Initially much work in plain glazing to replace the destroyed painted glass would have been available, but the injunctions were modified by Queen Elizabeth in 1559 to make it clear that windows were to be preserved, as she realised the burden that their destruction was imposing on parishes. Piece-meal iconoclasm continued, however, frequently seen in the removal of heads from saints and angels with the retention of the rest of the figure, or the taking out of just the figures of God the Father and the Virgin Mary. By 1570, as Christopher Woodforde showed in his study of The Norwich School, some Norwich glaziers appeared in a census of the poor in Norwich and all were unemployed.
This dismal picture can be modified somewhat if we examine the enrolments of freemen as glaziers from 1547 to 1700 in the city records. In this period of a little over one hundred and fifty years, seventy-nine glaziers adopted the freedom of the city, entitling them to work there. We may take John Carre as an example of the continuity of the craft. He was a glazier whose career spans the break in 1547, his having become free in 1521 and dying in 1557. From him we can trace an unbroken craft genealogy involving 45 other glaziers who could all trace their descent from Carre through either birth or apprenticeship. Thus it is evident that the Reformation in Norwich did not completely interrupt the craft of glazing in Norwich and as we shall see did provide new opportunities. The craft does, however, appear to have lost in status and the individual glaziers may not have been as prosperous as their medieval forebears in the city. A good but not infallible guide to the success of freemen is the extent to which they assumed the various civic offices which were responsible for the city administration. Before the Reformation two Norwich glaziers, John Wighton and William Heyward, had become aldermen, although none reached the office of sheriff or mayor, and several were councillors. Afterwards, with the exception of John Carre, who was councillor for the Mancroft ward from 1539 to 1543, no glazier during the rest of the century rose above the humble rank of constable and most did not appear in the list of officers. The reasons for this lack of status are fairly obvious. Plain glazing was not paid as much as painted glass and the heraldry that was painted for houses in no way matched in extent the many windows of parish churches which had been provided with painted glass before the Reformation.
One reason for the continuity of work for the city glaziers, who had always worked for a large hinterland in the county and beyond, was the amount of plain glazing required initially for parish churches whose painted windows had been removed, but on a more long-term basis it was the glazing for the many large houses built around this time in both city and county which provided work. This glazing included in many cases some painted glass, predominantly heraldry and usually confined to the main hall, parlour and in some cases the gate house. A sizeable amount, although a tiny proportion, of this heraldic glass still survives today, mainly removed from its original context, often to a local church or to public collections outside the county. Much more, now lost, is recorded in antiquarian manuscripts, a group of which were made in the last quarter of the sixteenth century. Extant heraldic glass in Norfolk goes back to the late thirteenth century, but the pre-1540 examples are found in churches rather than private houses.
One interesting detail from the events surrounding the dissolution of the Dominican friary in Norwich demonstrates an awareness of the potential popularity of heraldic glass. In 1540 the dissolved friary was sold by Henry VIII to the city authorities and in 1542/3 the city chamberlain’s accounts record a payment ‘For a new payne of glasse in the east wyndowe in the chapel, with a new ymage of St. Katherine’, indicating repairs to the existing Dominican glazing, as the choir was used as a municipal chapel and the 1547 injunctions were still in the future. Some glass, however, was removed, and John Pilson, glazier, paid 10d for 6 roundels of glass ‘that war Gentylman’s arms’, presumably with a view to selling them to the families of the said gentlemen to put in their houses.
Heraldic Glazing from Norwich c.1530-85: Some Stylistic Groupings and Observations
The rest of this feature is devoted to a consideration of some groups of related painted glass shields and achievements of arms dating from c. 1530 to c. 1585 which were made in Norwich. Stylistic groupings can be made and design typologies drawn up and in some cases such groups can be attributed to a particular workshop or glazier, as some are signed with the painter’s initials. This material has not been discussed before as a whole, and the aim of the present contribution is to draw attention to it but by no means exhaust the possibilities for finding interesting aspects in what is a rather neglected subject.
Groups of panels associated with the extended workshop of John Carre?
To the first group of heraldic panels can also be attached items other than heraldry, such as religious and pious texts, which were never banned by royal injunction. Attributions to this group are based on a combination of style and certain recurring decorative motifs. The earliest and one of the most attractive heraldic panels of this group consists of a shield with the arms of the City of Norwich set on Renaissance ornament with putti, birds, grotesques and foliage. It is now in Melton Constable church and with it is a shield with the initials ‘IB’ for John Bassingham, goldsmith (figs. 1 & 2). This glass almost certainly came from a house on the north side of Cutler’s Row (modern London Street) in Norwich. The glass in the house was recorded in the eighteenth century and included an inscription which refers to Henry VIII’s assertion that he was ‘the only protector and supreme head of the English church and clergy’. This claim was first made in 1531 and suggests that there was a glazing campaign at the house sometime after this date; the style of the glass pointing to a date range of 1531- c.1540. This panel marks one of the earliest examples of Renaissance ornament to arrive in the city. Another early example is the east window of the parish church of St Stephen, dated to 1533, where a fragmentary donor figure is set in a frame of Renaissance architecture (fig. 3). While clearly by a local painter, the new Renaissance elements may have derived from an outside source.
One such source may have been the carved wood dado behind the mayor’s seat in the council chamber of the Norwich Guildhall, which was rebuilt in 1534-7. The carvings have the winged putti, long-necked and legged birds, grotesques and foliage rinceaux as seen on the glass (fig. 4). There is a lack of documented carvers at this time in Norwich and it is possible that one from elsewhere, perhaps London, was used. Another early piece of Renaissance decoration in Norfolk is part of a stained glass frieze now in East Harling church, but almost certainly from the hall, owned from the 1520s by the Lovell family (fig. 5). It is comparable with the Guildhall dado and as it is known that the Sir Thomas Lovell ordered glass shields from a London glazier the capital may well be the source of the Renaissance decorative glass.
Other glass by the same workshop and probably the same painter which painted the Melton Constable panels includes part of a set of proverbs now in King’s College Chapel and Herringfleet church, Suffolk, which are set on a plaque with simple Renaissance ornament and stork-like birds similar to the ones at Melton Constable (fig. 6); also two large quarries depicting putti supporting shields, one bearing the Grocers’ arms and the other the merchant’s mark of alderman Nicholas Osborne, grocer and mercer, who died in 1541. These are now divided between the Norwich Castle Museum and Foulsham (fig. 7). Three single shields with non-heraldic devices can also be ascribed to this workshop, but not the same painter. One, now in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, bears the merchant’s mark of William Mingay, a Norwich man (fig. 8), another at Foulsham has an ingenious rebus for Peter Peterson, a local goldsmith, and a third in the Guildhall at Norwich has what may be the badge of the clerks to the signet. A fragment in Surrey House, Norwich, depicts part of a winged putto bearing a shield with the grocer’s arms (fig. 44).
Elements of these disparate panels are taken up by slightly later glass. At Surrey House, an early-nineteenth-century building on the site of the sixteenth-century house built for the Duke of Norfolk when he was Earl of Surrey, there are four heraldic panels which may be linked to the Duke (figs. 9-12). One of them, the badge of Prince Edward, dates the group to 1537 to 1547 and the style suggests a date in the early 1540s. The badge of Henry VIII is also seen and the arms of the King and the Duke of Norfolk. The badges are set in a coloured wreath with red roses and yellow clasps and the two shields are within the Garter. Below three of them are inscription plaques, and the royal arms and badge of the Prince have at the top small yellow supporters reminiscent in their angular style of the birds on the Melton Constable panel. What is strange about these panels, however, is the varying quality. The two badges and their setting are beautifully designed and executed to a higher standard than hitherto in Norfolk heraldic glass, which might lead one to question whether the glass-painter was in fact local. However, the supporters, garters and inscription plaques are a quite different matter. The problem is not the painting as such but the plethora of mistakes in the inscriptions, which must have been painted by someone who was completely illiterate. Errors of spelling in inscriptions are found in fifteenth-century Norfolk glass, sometimes from established and otherwise high-quality workshops, but they are unusual. Here the errors are many and clumsy attempts have been made to correct some of them. On the garter motto ‘pense’ is spelt ‘pance’. As an example of the errors on the plaques, that for the royal arms has the motto ‘Dieu et mon droit’, but it is set out as:
Incorrect letters have been scratched out and others added roughly relieved from the paint in smaller size and subscript (fig. 13). One possibility is that the master glazier painted the heraldry and setting and an inexperienced apprentice did the inscriptions. What is surprising is that this should have been accepted in view of the inspections of work made by the wardens of the craft and also because of the high status of the customer and the fact that royal heraldry was involved. It is not possible to tell whether the corrections were made before or after the panels were installed.
Two series of shields from private houses can be attributed to this group, although they date from a few years later. The first, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, is from Beaupré Hall in Outwell on the border with Cambridgeshire (fig. 14). That they were seen as a genealogical display is demonstrated by the multiple quarterings recalling alliances long past and by the unusual inscriptions, detailing family connections, spiralling around a horizontal branch along the top of some of the shields. The connection with the glass discussed above can be seen from the inscriptions, which appear to be by the same hand as those on the proverb panels at Cambridge and Herringfleet, and from the complex cartouches, which include the birds seen at Melton Constable and Cambridge. The second very similar series is now in Redenhall church, originally made for the nearby Gawdy Hall for the Gawdy family (fig. 15). The hall was built shortly after 1570, when Thomas Gawdy purchased a manor in Redenhall. In 1583 he was forced to sell the manor to his uncle, Sir Thomas Gawdy of Claxton. The heraldry for the hall would have been made within this date range, probably c.1575. This is useful for dating the Outwell series, where the heraldic and historical evidence is not so clear.
The leading glazier in the city in the first half of the sixteenth century in Norwich after the death of William Heyward in 1505/6 and his brother Nicholas in 1517 was the above-mentioned John Carre (fig. 16). He became free in 1521 and wrote his will in 1557. He had three apprentices, Abraham Panworth, who became free in 1549, and Thomas Manne and Richard Lathe, both free in 1551, the latter dying in 1602/3. In the case of William Heyward and John Wighton and their workshops sufficient factual and circumstantial evidence is available to allow some attributions of glass. In the case of John Carre, the situation is far less clear-cut, but it is worth bearing in mind that his workshop would be a probable candidate for an attribution of the body of work outlined above.
The case of Richard Lathe, Carre’s third apprentice, is different, however. Two shields of arms in the Garter for Lord Dudley, one now in Norwich Cathedral having come from the church of St Simon and St Jude, the other in the Norwich Guildhall, have the initials ‘R’ and ‘L’ in the gaps to left and right between shield and Garter (figs. 17 & 18). Another shield, for Lord Cecil, also in the cathedral, and one with the arms of Elizabeth I in the Guildhall are clearly by the same glazier (figs. 19 & 20). Richard Lathe is the only glazier from Norwich with those initials and an attribution to him of the four shields can safely be made. Elizabeth I visited Norwich in 1578 and much heraldry relating to her was made about that time. Robert Dudley and William Cecil accompanied her on her visit and their arms were among those painted on the north wall of the cloister shortly after the visit. They were both deputies to the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk at that time, whose office was part of the College of Heralds and were thus responsible for examining pedigrees and allowing new grants of arms. That their arms in Norwich were made by a local glazier is an important fact, since it might otherwise be argued that heraldic glass, particularly for clients of the status of Dudley and Cecil, might well have been ordered from elsewhere, most probably London. There are heraldic panels of the relevant date in Norfolk which do not look like those in the style groups discussed here, and they may be from outside the county; indeed, some of these panels are not now in their original location and could have been made for elsewhere. Two shields of Sir Thomas Lovell in the Garter at East Harling may have been such a case (fig. 21). Now in the church, they came from the long-destroyed hall. They date from the 1520s. In 1522 Lovell ordered heraldic glass for his residence at Halywell and the church at Enfield from a London glazier and it seems quite probable that the East Harling shields were from the same source.
The initialled panels by Richard Lathe provide a basis from which many style and design comparisons with other heraldic glass made in Norwich can be made. These other panels vary in date from a decade before that suggested for the initialled panels to near the end of the century. All four of the Lathe shields in the Cathedral and Guildhall in Norwich are set in the Garter. There are several other Garter shields of the sixteenth century in Norfolk of which four have the same Garter design with the same lettering. They are at Thursford (fig. 22), East Wretham (fig. 23) and Denton, where again the arms of Elizabeth I are depicted, with another with the arms of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk (figs. 24 & 25). There are, incidentally, a few indications that the early arrangement in 1719 at Denton of disparate panels may be connected to that in the Guildhall in Norwich, thus strengthening evidence for a Norwich provenance of the Denton panels. The first two shields with the arms of Elizabeth I are of a similar date to the initialled shields, that at Thursford being dated 1579, but may not be by the same painter. The royal arms at Denton are of a later date probably in the 1580s and are by the same painter as a panel with the arms of the City of Norwich in the Norwich Guildhall, both having similar settings with classical architecture.
Another design feature of the Lathe heraldry is the decoration of the background to the shield, which is placed in a circular frame. This contains two elements. The first is a modest outer frame of Renaissance architectural motifs. This is seen in a more developed form in many other heraldic panels in the county. The second element is seen in two forms on the four Lathe shields and concerns the decorative motifs placed in the space between the shield and the outer frame. At the cathedral they consist of different colour beads threaded onto a string which also weaves in and out of the Renaissance frame; in the Guildhall glass swags of leaves and berries replace the beads and string.
At Rainthorpe Hall, Tasburgh, are several shields made for the Baxter family after they acquired it in 1579 and probably before the death of the owner’s wife in 1587. The shields are heavily, although probably accurately, restored, and the one with most original glass from the series is in fact a stray now in the church at nearby Long Stratton (fig. 26). In these shields the outer architectural frame has been turned inwards to form a cartouche surrounding the shield, but the string with threaded beads still weaves in and out of the Renaissance motifs of the cartouche and at the top some of the fruit is seen. The reasons for the reversal of the frame is obvious: in the Lathe panels all the shields were set in the Garter, leaving no room for a cartouche around them, whereas at Rainthorpe Hall there is no Garter; the cartouche is in fact the norm and the Garter shields special cases.
One issue affecting the division of this heraldic glass into groups and its attribution to known workshops is whether individual workshops or glass-painters specialised in a particular design of heraldic glass, or whether a range of different versions was available to clients from the same workshop or glass-painter. At Rainthorpe Hall are two shields with the arms of Appleyard and Robsart (connected to a previous owner of the hall), both with eight quarterings, which required a larger shield (fig. 27). This had the effect that there was not room for a broad cartouche of the type used for the Baxter shields and instead an outer laurel wreath was used with a narrow inner cartouche. The use of a laurel wreath for heraldic panels covers several decades in Norfolk glass, starting in the 1520s at Norwich, St Peter Mancroft and continuing until at least 1600. In view of its earlier use, it is possible that the two shields at Rainthorpe Hall are earlier than the Baxter heraldry, particularly as they relate to a previous family. One of them has a pattern of spear-shaped leaves on the background between cartouche and wreath: these leaves are seen in the Surrey House 1537-47 heraldry on the badge of Henry VIII, but also on an earlier shield in Norwich Cathedral, probably from the first decade of the sixteenth century, with the arms of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York . However, it is also possible that the two shields from Rainthorpe Hall were part of the 1579-87 glazing installed by Thomas Baxter and that they are from the same workshop as the Baxter family shields, attributed here to the Richard Lathe workshop.
The most extensive use of the wreath setting is now in Narborough church but of uncertain provenance. Six panels bear shields of the Spelman and related families set in a laurel wreath with red fruit at the cardinal points and coloured clasps in between. Above is a semi-circular Renaissance feature akin to a cartouche bearing the date 1578 and below a similar feature has the names belonging to the shield (fig. 28). That these panels are from Norwich can be demonstrated by comparing the setting with that on the late-sixteenth-century City of Norwich arms in the Guildhall there. This has a green wreath with red fruit and clasps almost identical to those at Narborough. Moreover, the semi-circular features with Renaissance motifs above and below the Narborough shields are also seen on the Guildhall panel. The royal arms at Denton, which as was mentioned above is by the same glazier as the Guildhall City of Norwich arms panel with the green wreath and red fruit, was linked to the Lathe shields by the design of the Garter. However, it is not possible to know whether the Narborough glass was made by Lathe or his apprentices or by one of the other apprentices of John Carre.
Another larger group of panels uses the design type of a shield set in an oval panel with a broad and complex cartouche based on architectural motifs with an inscription plaque. This general type of heraldic panel is seen in other counties, but it is the particular range of motifs used in the cartouche which distinguishes the panels of this group in the first place as Norwich work, but also as related to the Rainthorpe Hall panels where this type of cartouche is combined with the background decoration seen on the Norwich Cathedral Lathe panels. One such panel with the arms of Charles Le Grys impaling Manfyld, now at Denton, is dated 1567 and is the earliest dated panel in this group (fig. 29). It is damaged and only part of the cartouche survives, but the details around the plaque are from the same design (with minor difference) as those on a set of four heraldic panels with Wodehouse impalements now in Kimberley church, but almost certainly from the hall, as the foreign glass also there was given by Lord Wodehouse of Kimberley (fig. 30). Queen Elizabeth stayed in the hall when she came to Norfolk in 1578 and these panels probably date from around that time. A fragmentary panel with the arms of Karvile and Saunders at Norton Subcourse has a similar cartouche and is dated to before 1581. The closest comparison with the Kimberley panels is one at Langley bearing the arms of Berney impaling Hubbard; it must date from around the same time (fig. 31).
Two panels now at Denton with identical designs, one being dated 1583, bear the arms of the City of Norwich and the Goldsmith’s Company (figs. 32 & 33). These arms also occur carved on the doorway originally to John Bassingham’s house mentioned above, but are now removed to the Norwich Guildhall, and they may thus also be from that house. The painting style has hardened since that seen on the panels date to the 1570s and is now more like that on the Norwich City (fig. 34) and royal arms in the Guildhall and at Denton, dated above also to the 1580s. The design of the cartouche has some new elements, such as the fire and smoke being expelled by various heads and architectural motifs, but this may be an allusion to the craft of the goldsmith, which involves the use of fire to heat metal and anneal enamels. The basic architectural elements of the cartouche are still close to those seen on the earlier panels in this group, such as those at Kimberley and, even closer, to a panel from Beaupré Hall (not part of the main series) dated 1577 and bearing the arms of Bell (fig. 35).
A group of panels from the workshop of John Gogle?
The final, rather different, group of heraldic glass from Norfolk is that where a full heraldic achievement with shield, helm, crest, mantling and label are included on an oval panel. This is a common type in England and on the Continent, but in Norfolk several examples occur which appear to be taken from the same design and all of which have a particular distinguishing decorative motif; they can therefore be attributed to a common workshop. The oval achievements in this group are dated to between c. 1573 and c. 1586. Although two could be as late as 1595, their style suggests a date two decades earlier. A list makes matters clearer here:
Fig. 36 Norwich Cathedral Gardiner c. 1573
St Andrew’s Chapel
Fig. 37 Norwich Cathedral Gogle quarry 1575
Fig. 38 Norwich Cathedral Parkhurst quarry 1575
Fig. 39 Norwich Cathedral Gardiner 1575
Fig. 40 Norwich Guildhall Brown c. 1575-c. 1585
Fig. 41 Norwich St Andrew Layer quartering Butifant 1576-1585
Fig. 42 Norwich St Michael [Modern shield] 1577
Fig. 43 Ex-Beaupré Hall Bell 1577
Fig. 44 Norwich Wodehouse and Yelverton (fragment) After 1582
Fig. 45 Saxlingham Heydon 1586
Fig. 46 Baconsthorp Heydon c. 1586
In a north ambulatory window of Norwich Cathedral are some panels of heraldic glass taken from the Deanery, including one full-size achievement of Dean George Gardiner (fig. 38), and some quarries with coats of arms and one with an inscription and date. This latter quarry bears a Renaissance plaque with ‘D’ at the top and ‘Gardiner’ below, with the date ‘1575’ at the bottom. Above the date are the initials ‘G G’ (fig. 37). This must relate to Dean Gardiner and may have been placed below the achievement with his arms. Below the surname is a lion’s face, which also appears as a decorative motif on the lower part of the helm on the achievement. Another quarry has the arms of John Parkhurst, bishop of Norwich, who died in 1575; this has a lion’s face in each of the four corners and is almost certainly by the same painter (fig. 39). In St Andrew’s Chapel in the cathedral is another oval achievement of George Gardiner, painted from the same basic design as the one already mentioned, but with the small alterations often made by glass-painters to a much-used design model or cartoon (fig. 36). However, in this case this second achievement may be earlier than the first mentioned, as the blazon is different. The St Andrew’s Chapel shield bears sable a chevron ermine between three hunting horns argent stringed and garnished or, two and one, but that in the ambulatory window, almost certainly from 1575, charges the chevron ermine with three roses gules seeded or. Gardiner became Dean in July 1573; in the same year he was made chaplain to Queen Elizabeth and it is possible that he was allowed to add the three Tudor roses to his arms as an augmentation to mark this royal appointment, or he added them himself. The shield without the roses must have been made before this change occurred, which may not have been immediately after he became chaplain, but was in place by 1575 when the second shield was made. The minor differences between the two achievements suggest that two different painters from the same workshop were involved.
While this whole group of shields is demonstrably from the same design, it exhibits numerous changes of detail, some arising from the multiple reuse of the design, but also probably because a number of glass-painters were involved. The example at St Michael at Coslany has lost the original arms and the helm is cut off at the bottom, so that the lion’s face is missing, but the mantling follows the pattern of the others (fig. 42). All the achievements except that from Beaupré Hall have mantling tinctured argent and gules. The Bell achievement from Beaupré hall has argent and sable, matching the colours on the Bell arms (which also have ermine) (fig. 43). In some cases the mantling with argent and gules also matches the colours on the shield, as with the Heydon arms (figs.45 & 46), but in others it does not. It would seem that argent and gules was the default colouring for the mantling in this group, unless there was a good reason to change it. In the case of the Bell arms, two other achievements with Bell heraldry but with cartouches on white glass and no mantling appear to have accompanied it. The Bell heraldry requires no coloured glass and for economic or aesthetic reasons none was introduced on the mantling. Another variable feature was the label at the bottom; this consisted of the name of the family or families whose arms were on the shields, of the name and title, of the motto or of the date. The inscription was placed on a curved scroll or a Renaissance plaque and could be in black-letter or Roman script.
One glazier from this period who is not documented as having been trained in the John Carre workshop is John Gogle, although Carre did leave him 12d in his will in 1557. John Gogle was free of the city in 1539/40 and had a son, Richard, who became a glazier, gaining his freedom in 1577. His father was dead by 1576. In 1570 he had been recorded as an unemployed glazier aged 30. He had obviously improved his situation seven years later when he became free. The dates would be consistent with his having taken over his father’s workshop after his death and having taken up the freedom to be allowed to trade independently. The list of freemen at this time also records that in 1573 a Thomas Gogle had become free as a glazier, without being an apprentice, but there is no information as to his relation to John and Richard. Since the Gogle workshop is the only enterprise of that period not to have been mentioned so far it is possible it was the one responsible for this group of panels, but this is by no means definite. With one exception, none of this group of panels contains motifs or details which appear in the preceding groups attributed to members of the John Carre extended workshop. The only exception is the border to the Heydon achievement at Saxlingham, dated 1586, possibly the latest in the group. This has a design derived from the egg and dart motif which is also seen in a modified form in the 1579-86 heraldry at Rainthorpe Hall and the roughly contemporary panel in the Norwich Guildhall with the arms of Norwich under a Renaissance arch.
It may be objected that this type of heraldic achievement in glass is common and cannot serve as an adequate reason for assigning this group to a Norwich workshop. However, the fact that the panels are found across Norfolk including in Norwich does suggest a prima-facie connection with the city and it is instructive that an oval achievement of 1582 from Filby Hall, Norfolk, which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and which has all the same ingredients as the panels in this group, is not from the group, as the details of the helm, mantling and cartouche cannot be linked to it. This is probably because the man responsible for having the window made, Edward Lucas, Gentleman, was not a Norfolk man, but was from London, as the inscription tells us.
Final Thoughts: Workmanship and Heraldic Accuracy
This article has concentrated thus far on the design typology and workshop methodology of heraldic glass-painting in Norwich. It concludes with a few brief thoughts on another aspect of this material, namely, that of its workmanship and heraldic accuracy, although a detailed study of the blazons involved has not been carried out. In 1618 a set of bye-laws for the craft of glaziers was issued in Norwich. This is the only known set of rules in the city specifically for this craft and unsurprisingly at this date it mentions heraldic glass-painting. The relevant section reads thus: ‘Item that no person or persons of the s(ai)d Occupacon shall take upon him or them to make any Armes in Glass except the same be skillfull therein And shall well see that the same be joyned rated and perted as that ought And that no Collours be otherwise laid on than doth belong to the Art of Armory and the same to be well Aneled as that ought and may endure upon payn of every Arms wrought to the contrary 3s. 4d to be levyed and divided as is hereafter mentioned’ (Norfolk Record Office NCR 10c/7). Certain coats of arms with complicated charges or quarterings demand a high level of skill, particularly in glass cutting. Some of the most remarkable feats are seen in late-fifteenth-century heraldry, such as the six-pointed estoile cut from a single piece of glass on the robe of the donor figure of Anne Crane at Long Melford (fig. 47), but the sixteenth-century shields and achievements in general required even more technical expertise because of the increase in the proportion of quarterly shields and in the number of quarterings (for example, quarters two and three of a shield from Beaupré Hall each have twenty quarterings). The use of enamel paints and sanguine did make life easier in one respect, as charges of one colour could be painted on a field or other charge of a different colour, but enamel colours are prone to flaking, and the injunction in the Glaziers’ Bye-Laws that heraldic panels ‘be well Aneled as that ought and may endure’ clearly relates to the need to avoid that problem. They were not used for this glass in Norfolk until the second half of the sixteenth century and mainly in the last quarter thereof. From the earliest times glass-painters had sometimes resorted to short-cuts to avoid the problems inherent in complex heraldry and the sixteenth century was no exception. The two shields in the Norwich Cathedral and Guildhall for Lord Dudley illustrate this well. They have the same sixteen quarterings. Whereas that in the Guildhall uses white glass, yellow stain, blue enamel and sanguine for the tinctures, the otherwise identical shield in the cathedral omits the sanguine, leaving the glass white.
The correctness of heraldic blazon was also a concern at this time. Heraldic visitations in Norfolk began during this time, the first being in 1563 and the others taking place in 1589 and 1613. Their function was to draw up genealogies of families bearing arms and to establish that coats of arms were used only by those entitled to them and that they were properly blazoned. Many partly fictitious genealogies purporting to show a family line of descent going back over many generations, sometimes to Anglo-Saxon times, and linking with noble families were made and it would be useful to know whether any of the heraldic series, extant or lost, in Norfolk stained glass were based on false genealogies; if so, however careful the glazier was, he could still produce false heraldry if the donor provided fictitious blazons. The 1618 Bye-Laws may also reflect a concern held by the heralds who conducted visitations that much heraldry was inaccurately made. A treatise of 1606 written by William Smith, Rouge Dragon Pursuivant, concluded: ‘The greatest hindrance & Inconvenience that the Officers of Armes do at this day sustained: is through the manifold errors and abuses dayly co(m)mitted by Painters’.
The heraldic glass discussed here is, as was observed, only a small proportion of that originally made during the sixteenth century. Some panels which are not related to these groups have not been mentioned and the existence of many more shields is recoverable from antiquarian sources, in particular two manuscripts from the British Library, MS Harley 901 and MS Lansdowne 260, and one from the Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 792, all dating from c. 1575, together with Blomefield and Parkin’s An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk. Using heraldry in the study of stained glass of all periods can be a difficult task, but can provide vital information about the people who made the windows and when and where they were made.
1. C. Woodforde, The Norwich School of Glass-Painting in the Fifteenth Century, London, 1950, pp. 202-213.
2. D. King, ‘Le vitrail anglais et la Réforme: Destruction, preservation et continuité à Norwich’, Revue de l’art, no. 167, 2010, part 1, pp. 41-50.
3. P. Millican, The Register of the Freemen of Norwich 1548-1713, Norwich, 1934, pp. 65-7.
4. D. King, ‘Mendicant Glass in East Anglia’, in N. Rogers, ed., The Friars in Medieval Britain, Proceedings of the 2007 Harlaxton Symposium, Donington, 2010, pp. 169-184.
5. W. Rye, ed., The Visitacion of Norffolk, London 1891.
6. N. Ramsay, ed., Heralds and Heraldry in Shakespeare’s England, Donington, 2014.
7. E. Farrer, The Church Heraldry of Norfolk: a description of all coats of arms on brasses, monuments, slabs, hatchments etc. now to be found in the county, 3 vols, Norwich, 1887–93.