Subjects and Sovereigns: Joshua Price and the glazing of Old Harlow church

Dr Penny Hebgin-Barnes with the assistance of Christopher Parkinson

Old Harlow church contains the remnants of a substantial glazing scheme dating from c.1709-13. It included royal portraits and a hitherto unknown series depicting the life of Christ by Joshua Price, the precursor of the renowned set of windows now at Great Witley that he produced in 1719-21. It also incorporated some unusual 16th-century glazing. The surviving glass illustrates political and religious attitudes of the period in which it was created.

In 1708 the medieval parish church of St Mary and St Hugh, Old Harlow, Essex, was severely damaged by fire. Following this disaster, the Revd John Taylor, vicar from 1679 until his death in 1726, used his own money in ‘beautifying and embellishing’ the church with painted glass and other ornaments. In addition, ‘Many of the Gentlemen of the country, in approbation of his zeal, gave their arms curiously painted on glass, with which the Church, and Chancel windows are adorned’.((Philip Morant, The history and antiquities of the county of Essex (London 1768) vol II p. 485.)) Little of this early 18th-century glazing scheme survives, but it was recorded by several antiquarians, and from their work it can be summarised as follows.((Essex Record Office, T/P 195/16/1 (manuscript by William Holman c.1720); Morant, op. cit. pp. 485-86; [Peter Muilman], A New and Complete History of Essex from a late Survey by a Gentleman, vol 4 (Chelmsford 1771) pp. 73-74; Thomas Wright, The history and topography of the county of Essex, comprising its ancient and modern history (London 1831) vol II 1831 p 29; John L. Fisher, The Deanery of Harlow: A Small Contribution to the History of the Church in Essex (Colchester 1922) pp. 68-69, 90-91.))

The chancel had an east window containing ‘a painting of the twelve apostles’ and two windows on both the north and south sides.((There was also a painting of the twelve apostles on the now lost cupola (Muilman op. cit. p. 74).)) The north east window contained three panels with the armorials of Sir Charles Barrington, dated 1711; Francis North, Lord Guilford, undated; and Sir Edward Turnor, dated 1710. The north west window contained two panels with the armorials of John Comyns Esq. and William Fytch Esq., both dated 1709.  The south east window contained three panels with the armorials of White Kennett, D.D., Dean of Peterborough, dated 1709; the See of London impaling Compton for Henry Compton, Bishop of London 1675-1713, dated 1706; and St John’s College Cambridge for Humphrey Gower, Master of the College, dated 1709. The south west window contained six scenes depicting the History of Solomon dated 1563, given by Edmund Field Esq.

One north window of the nave contained the armorial of Sir Richard Child, baronet, dated 1713, and portraits of King Charles I and Queen Anne. Another contained the undated armorials of Sir John Gore and Sir Humphrey Gore. A south window of the nave contained the armorials of William Lancaster, D.D., Archdeacon of Middlesex, and Philip Betts, registrar to the Archdeacon of Colchester, both dated 1710.

Before turning to the surviving glass, it is worth considering the political affiliations and personal connections of these donors, which help to reveal what motivated them to donate glass to Old Harlow church and the type of glazing they commissioned.

Preceding decades had been politically turbulent, beginning with the Civil War of the 1640s, which culminated in 1649 with the execution of Charles I and the establishment of the Protectorate. Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, but in the Exclusion Crisis of 1679-81 attempts were made in parliament to prevent his Roman Catholic brother James from succeeding him. In the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 James II was ousted by the Protestant William and Mary, and the Act of Settlement in 1701 ensured the Hanoverian Protestant succession. Divisions were reflected by the emergence of Whig and Tory factions in parliament. The Tories supported a strong hereditary monarchy represented by the house of Stuart and the Church of England in the form established after the Restoration. This High Church Anglicanism was manifested as respect for tradition, attachment to royal authority, ceremony and ornamentation, including the production of art depicting figures and events described in scripture.  

Five of the men who placed their armorials in the windows of the chancel and nave served as Members of Parliament for the county of Essex or for constituencies within the county during the period 1700-20. They were Sir Charles Barrington, M.P. for Essex 1694-1705 and 1713-15, Sir Edward Turnor, M.P. for Orford 1701-09 and 1710-21, John Comyns, M.P. for Maldon in 1701-08 and 1710-15, William Fytch, his fellow M.P. for Maldon in 1701-10 and 1711-12, and Sir Richard Child, M.P. for Maldon 1708-10 and for Essex 1710-22.((http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1690-1715/member/barrington-sir-charles-1671-1715 http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1690-1715/member/turnor-sir-edward-1646-1721 http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1690-1715/member/comyns-john-1667-1740 http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1690-1715/member/fytche-%28fitch%29-william-1671-1728)) All five were adherents of the Tory and High Church parties.

Lord Guilford was patron of the church and funded the building of a new gallery in the west tower. He was Lord Lieutenant of Essex 1703-05 and was appointed to the Privy Council in 1712. A High Church and Tory sympathiser, he was one of only five members of the House of Lords to vote against the Act of Settlement which excluded the Stuarts from the English throne.((https://www.british-history.ac.uk/lords-jrnl/vol16/pp698-699#h3-0009))

The three armorials in the south east window of the chancel commemorated the connections of Revd John Taylor.((Entry for John Taylor (1641-1726), in A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge: https://venn.lib.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/search-2018.pl?sur=Taylor&suro=w&fir=&firo=c&cit=&cito=c&c=all&z=all&tex=TLR662J2&sye=&eye=&col=all&maxcount=50)) He studied at St John’s College Cambridge from 1662 and was awarded his M.A. in 1670. He would have known Humphrey Gower who had entered the college in 1655 and was its Master from 1679 until his death in 1711. In 1679 Taylor became vicar of Harlow in Bishop Compton’s diocese of London. In 1685 he became a Prebendary of Peterborough Cathedral. White Kennett, who became chaplain to Queen Anne in 1707, was appointed Dean of Peterborough in 1708.((For White Kennett see Dictionary of National Biography xxxi (1892), pp. 2-6. In 1718 he became Bishop of Peterborough. Unlike the others whose armorials were placed in the windows at Harlow after the 1708-09 rebuilding, he was noted for his Low Church views and opposition to the Tories.))

In addition to the network of Essex parliamentarians, several of those whose armorials appeared in the church had connections with one another. Bishop Compton, who was strongly opposed to Roman Catholicism and heavily involved with William of Orange’s seizure of the English throne from James II, transferred his support to the Tories during the reign of Queen Anne (1702-14).((For Bishop Henry Compton see Dictionary of National Biography xi (1887) pp. 443-46.)) He supported the parliamentary candidacies of Sir Charles Barrington in 1701 and Sir Richard Child in 1705 and thereafter. William Lancaster, Archdeacon of Middlesex from 1705 until his death in 1717, had been domestic chaplain to Bishop Compton, to whom he was related by marriage. Although a Whig he favoured the High Church party.((Dictionary of National Biography, xxxii (1892) pp. 44-45.)) Sir John Gore, son of Sir William Gore who was Lord Mayor of London in 1701-02, was a merchant and director of the South Sea Company from 1711, which must have brought him into contact with some of the other Harlow donors.((http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1715-1754/member/gore-john-1689-1763))

Fig. 1. Roundel depicting King Charles I (nVI 4b) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 1. Roundel depicting King Charles I (nVI 4b) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 2. Roundel depicting Queen Anne (nVI 4d) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

The surviving early 18th-century glass that can be linked to this network of donors consists of Bishop Compton’s armorial, a pair of roundels depicting head and shoulders portraits of King Charles I and Queen Anne, six square figurative fragments, some religious emblems and the remnants of the series of panels depicting the History of Solomon. Most of these pieces are now in the five-light east window of the north transept (nVI), situated in the organ chamber and thus inaccessible and difficult to photograph. The others are in the three-light east window of the north vestry (nIV). Their condition varies, with the Solomon panels being the most badly damaged.((The portrait roundels were conserved before 2002, when obtrusive mending leads were removed from both and the breaks edge-bonded. The Queen Anne roundel is illustrated before and after conservation in Sarah Brown and Sebastian Strobl, A Fragile Inheritance: The Care of stained glass and historic glazing: a handbook for custodians (London 2002) p. 41 figs 22, 23.))

One of the central tenets of High Church Anglicanism was Charles I’s martyrdom for the Anglican faith. This is epitomised by the portrait roundel now in nVI 4b (Fig. 1) donated in 1713 by Sir Richard Child. The king is attired ready for execution in a white linen cap and shirt with a white collar, both trimmed with lace. The roundel appears to be based on a mezzotint by William Faithorne Jr published by Edward Cooper in the 1690s, but there are significant differences.((National Portrait Gallery ref. no. NPG D30993  (https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw141142 ). The king’s head in the mezzotint is probably based on portraits by Sir Anthony van Dyck.)) In the mezzotint the king has a nimbus of rays and a hand reaches from the clouds to place a royal crown on his head.  The king’s nimbus is missing from the roundel, whose shape dictates that the crown must hover beside his head rather than be held above it. The crown itself is copied not from the mezzotint but from the heavenly crown with stars on its points at which Charles gazes on the title page of Eikon Basilike, the hagiographic account published immediately after his execution in 1649 and frequently reprinted thereafter, which established his reputation as an Anglican martyr.((National Portrait Gallery ref. no. NPG D10624 (https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw16610 ).))

The king’s portrait roundel was paired with that of the reigning monarch, his granddaughter Queen Anne, now in nVI 4d (Fig. 2). Her image is based on a mezzotint dated 1706 by John Smith, after the portrait of her in royal regalia by Sir Godfrey Kneller.((National Portrait Gallery ref. no. NPG D7769 (https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw41730 ). This regal image of Queen Anne was also used as the model for her in a series of quarries depicting monarchs at Tabley House (Cheshire) dating from 1727-60 (Penny Hebgin-Barnes, The Medieval Stained Glass of Cheshire, CVMA (GB), Summary Catalogue 9, Oxford, 2010 p. 234; CVMA inv. no. 008287).)) Thus, both monarchs’ portraits were based on prints in circulation at this time. Both roundels are bordered with green chaplets bearing jewels and bright blue fleurs-de-lis. The pairing of their two images may have been intended to stress that Anne was the legitimate Anglican heir to Charles I’s earthly crown, as opposed to her exiled Roman Catholic half-brother James Stuart, and also to commemorate her as the last of Charles I’s descendants to rule England, since the Stuart monarchy was destined to die with her.

Another High Church trait was the use of figurative rather than purely heraldic glazing, exemplified by the now lost chancel east window depicting the apostles and by the surviving square fragments depicting the heads of six figures. These are painted entirely in enamels with no pot metal colours, in a soft and rather sentimental manner reminiscent of 18th-century oil paintings. A dearth of comparable English figurative glazing survives from the beginning of the 18th century. The most complete example is the former east window of the chapel of Merton College Oxford, executed in 1702 by William Price (c.1644-1710) which looks nothing like the figures surviving at Harlow. Price was the leading London glass-painter at this time but no other figurative work by him has survived for comparison.((The Merton College window consists a series of six large, dramatically shaded scenes from the life of Christ modelled on oil paintings by renowned artists including Tintoretto and Carracci. It now occupies four windows of the chapel’s north transept. (Tim Ayers, The Medieval Stained Glass of Merton College, Oxford, CVMA (GB), VI, Oxford, 2013 vol 2 pp. 360-73). Fragments of an Adoration of the Shepherds window that Price painted for Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford survive, but no main figures. His work is examined in J.A. Knowles ‘The Price Family of Glass-painters’, Antiquaries Journal xxxiii 1953 pp. 184-92; M. Archer ‘Stained Glass at Erddig and the Work of William Price’, Apollo cxxii no. 294 (N.S.) October 1985 pp. 252-63; G. Lane ‘Adding ‘Beauty to Light’: London glass-painters 1660-1710’, JSG xxxiii 2009 pp. 55-60.)) However, in 1719-21 his son Joshua Price (1672-1722) executed a series of large windows depicting scenes from the life of Christ based on designs by the Italian painter Francesco Sleter (1685-1775) for Cannons, the grand house built by the Duke of Chandos at Edgware (Middlesex).((For the Duke of Chandos and Cannons see http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1690-1715/member/brydges-hon-james-1674-1744 and Susan Jenkins, Portrait of a Patron: The Patronage and Collecting of James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos (1674–1744) (Aldershot, 2007).)) After its demolition in 1747 the contents were auctioned off and the windows were installed in Great Witley church, Worcestershire. Comparison of the six incomplete figures remaining at Harlow with these windows shows that they are based on the same cartoons.

The child in nVI A1 (Fig. 3) is the infant Christ from the Adoration of the Shepherds window at Great Witley (Fig. 9) and the young boy in nVI 4c (Fig. 4) is the shepherd kneeling beside the manger, above whom hovers the winged putto head in nIV A2 (Fig. 5). The bearded male head in nVI A1 (Fig. 6) is St John the Baptist from the Baptism of Christ at Great Witley (Fig. 10) and the angel in nVI B1 (Fig. 7) is the attendant angel on the riverbank. The angel in nVI B2 (Fig. 8) looks down from the clouds in the Annunciation at Great Witley (Fig. 11). The two sets of figures are extremely similar in both style and colouration although there is a slight difference in proportion. At Great Witley, the individual panes of which the windows are composed are rectangular, while at Harlow they are square, being based on a smaller grid. Thus the Harlow panels are missing either the top or bottom sections of their equivalents at Great Witley, although no significant features are truncated, with the only figure who is fitted into a single pane (the kneeling shepherd boy) being slightly squatter at Harlow. The remnants of the three separate scenes indicate that Joshua Price executed a series of windows depicting the life of Christ for Harlow church, probably during the period 1709-13, predating the similar series he produced for Cannons, most of which are signed ‘J Price 1719’.((Francesco Sleter’s design for the 1719 series at Cannons was his first recorded English commission. The Harlow windows, based on the same models, suggest he was working in England before 1719.))

Fig. 3. Infant Christ from Adoration of the Shepherds (nVI A1) (© Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 6. St John the Baptist from the Baptism of Christ (nVI A1) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 4. Shepherd boy from Adoration of the Shepherds (nVI 4c) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 7. Angel from the Baptism of Christ (nVI B1) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 5. Putto head from Adoration of the Shepherds (nIV A2) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 8. Angel from the Annunciation (nVI B2) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 9. Great Witley, Church of St Michael and All Angels: Adoration of the Shepherds window (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 10. Great Witley, Church of St Michael and All Angels: Baptism of Christ window (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 11. Great Witley, Church of St Michael and All Angels: Annunciation window (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Joshua Price also painted the unsigned portrait roundels of Charles I and Anne. Their style and the colouration of the former, with the dramatically bright yellow of the heavenly crown and grey ground shading into blue, are found in the Great Witley windows. The flesh and brown tones of Anne’s portrait reflect the mezzotint on which it was based. Given the lack of other skilled glass-painters working in London during this period, Joshua Price is also the obvious candidate to have produced the lost chancel east window at Harlow depicting the apostles, although he may have collaborated with his father William Price until the latter’s death in 1710.((Joshua’s last work, in 1722, was on the north transept rose window of Westminster Abbey showing figures of Christ, the Apostles and Evangelists, based on designs produced by Sir James Thornhill in 1721 ( https://vidimus.org/issues/issue-76/books/ ).)) Joshua and/or William were probably also responsible for glazing the east window of the vestry (nIV), which contains the medieval glass that was removed from the chancel east window to make way for the apostles, supplemented with what was considered to be complementary new glass. In the central main light (nIV 1b) is a small early 14th-century panel depicting the Virgin and Child, set on a ground of 14th-century quarries. Above it is an early 18th-century Trinity emblem coloured yellow, red and blue (Fig. 12).

The outer main lights (nIV 1a,1c) also contain early 18th-century glazing. Each light is bordered with fleurs-de-lis and contains a roundel depicting the crowned sacred monogram ‘ihs’ pierced by the Passion emblems of the spear and the vinegar-sponge on a rod, with the three nails below. The roundels are executed using yellow stain and coloured enamels and set on a red lozenge with a jewelled border (Fig. 13). Above them is a composite shield Argent on a cross gules a crown or, the crowns being 14th-century border pieces.((Bradford suggests this shield was intended for Nicholas or the Society of Antiquaries (J. Bradford, ‘The Armorial Glass and Badges in Harlow Church’, Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society, Vol XI (new series) 1911 p. 351).)) The 18th-century glazing in this window includes pot metal blue and flashed ruby glass, which the Price workshop used in other commissions. The Trinity emblem and sacred monogram roundels are based on medieval models and may be an attempt to recreate lost pieces that were in the church before the fire of 1708. Another example of such imitation is provided by two pairs of canopy tops originally from the heads of main lights that are now in the large circular tracery light nVI A1. One pair is of early 14th-century date and typical of the period, with crocketed gables topped with finials set within cusped decorative borders, executed in white and coloured glass with yellow stain. The other pair are 18th-century interpretations of them: coloured entirely with enamel paints, these canopies contain 14th-century features including crocketted gables and finials combined with anachronistic fantasy elements including rectangular dormer windows with pediments and classical curved curtain walls topped with crockets and pierced with quatrefoils (Fig. 14). Such demonstrations of respect for the church’s original glazing and interest in medieval religious iconography are consistent with High Church Anglicanism. 

Fig. 12. Virgin and Child and Trinity emblem (nIV 1b) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 13. Roundel with sacred monogram and Passion emblems (nIV 1c) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 14. Canopy tops (nVI A1) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 15. Royal badge (nVI 5a) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

High Church loyalty to the monarchy is further demonstrated by the extensive display of royal heraldry dating from the early to mid-16th century now in window nVI. Every church in England was required to display the royal arms but this collection of ten disparate examples must have originated from several different locations, most of them probably secular.((A description of all the armorial glass in the church is given in Bradford, op. cit. pp. 347-361.)) Some armorials are set on grounds of early 18th-century quarries within a decorative lattice evidently created during the restoration after the 1708 fire. There are four versions of the royal arms of England, two within garters and two within chaplets; two Tudor roses and one red rose, all within chaplets; a portcullis badge; and two fleurs-de-lis badges, one within a chaplet. Most are ensigned with crowns and the chaplets are ornamented with clasps, roses and banding. Nine of these pieces represent a conventional show of loyalty to King Henry VIII (1509-47) or his successors, but one Tudor rose badge in nVI 5a (Fig. 15) is more nuanced. The chaplet’s bottom clasp bears the initials ‘KP’ which must stand for ‘Katerina Principissa’, namely Princess Katherine of Aragon (1485-1536) who married Arthur Prince of Wales in 1501.((Bradford’s alternative suggestion (ibid. p. 347) was Katherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII, but it would be most unusual to find her personal initials KP rather than KR (Katerina Regina) on a royal badge as opposed to a depiction of her own shield of arms.)) He died in 1502 and she married Henry VIII in 1509, after which she was described as ‘Katerina Regina’ (Queen Katherine). However the style of this panel, particularly the decorative putto head on the left clasp, accords with a date of 1533-36 when Henry VIII had repudiated Katherine on the basis of her marriage to his brother and downgraded her official title from Queen to Princess Dowager, a title she refused to acknowledge.((Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cromwell: A Life (London 2018) pp. 216, 245, 252.)) By proclaiming Katherine’s status as Prince Arthur’s widow, this badge demonstrates approval of Henry VIII’s marriage in 1533 to Anne Boleyn. It is thus unlikely to postdate May 1536, when Anne’s execution abruptly removed the reason for making such a statement.

The central light of window nVI contains panels that were probably removed from the two south windows of the chancel when the church was completely restored in 1872-73.((James Bettley & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Essex (Newhaven & London 2007) p. 466.)) Near the top of this light in nVI 5c (Fig. 16) is the oval armorial of the See of London impaling Compton, ensigned with a mitre and set on a yellow cartouche, with a scroll below bearing the motto ‘Nisi Dominus 1706’.((A mezzotint of Bishop Compton dated 1710 shows this coat of arms (National Portrait Gallery ref. no. NPG D1501, https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw35638 ).)) It is executed in white and flashed ruby glass with yellow stain and coloured enamel paints, but all the paint is now completely lost rendering the inscription illegible. The date suggests the armorial was installed shortly before the fire and was salvaged and replaced afterwards.

Below the Compton armorial are the remnants of the Solomon series (nVI 1-4c). This originally consisted of six unipartite rectangular panels in three lights depicting Solomon making a sacrifice (Fig. 17, nVI 1c), petitioning God for wisdom, being anointed king (nVI 3c), building the temple, receiving the Queen of Sheba (Fig. 18, nVI 2c) and giving judgement. They are Netherlandish and based on a series of six prints dated 1554 by Maarten van Heemskerck. Other panels based on the same series of prints survive in several other locations, including the Château de Chaumont (Loir-et-Cher, France) where four of the six scenes have survived (Fig. 19).((Of the three scenes surviving at Harlow, Solomon making an offering is in the Château de Chaumont; Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is at the Château de Chaumont, Cassington (Oxon.) and Chadshunt (Warks.) (William Cole, A Catalogue of Netherlandish and North European Roundels in Britain, CVMA (GB), Summary Catalogue 1, Oxford, 1993, nos 393 (p. 46) and 412 (p. 48) ); Solomon anointed king is at the Château de Chaumont and Lullingstone (Kent). Panels from the series that do not survive at Harlow depict Solomon praying for wisdom at Lullingstone (Kent), Longlevens (Gloucs.) (Cole op. cit. no. 1091 (p. 135) and the Museum de Lakenhal, Leiden (Netherlands), and Solomon building the temple at the Château de Chaumont and Wainfleet (Lincs.) (Penny Hebgin-Barnes, The Medieval Stained Glass of the County of Lincolnshire, CVMA (GB), Summary Catalogue 3, Oxford, 1996 p. 340). The author is grateful to Kees Berserik for providing information and images of these surviving Solomon panels.)) The Harlow panels are set within elaborate ornamental surrounds executed in black paint, yellow stain and flesh enamel on a white ground with no coloured glass.((Such surrounds, comprising classical architectural frameworks and Renaissance motifs such as herms, satyrs, cartouches and swags of fruit and foliage, and incorporating information such as dates and texts relating to the scenes, are best exemplified by the mid-16th-century History of Joseph series originally from the St Elisabeth Hospital in Lierre (Antwerp) (Y. Vanden Bemden, ‘Peintures sur verre représentant l’Histoire de Joseph’, Bulletin des Musées Royaux d’Art et de d’Histoire 48, 1976 pp. 85-100). For the placing of series of narrative scenes in such surrounds see Z. van Ruyven-Zeman, “Pluriformity in Dutch Unipartite Panels of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries” Le vitrail en solitaire: Actes du XXIVe colloque international du Corpus Vitrearum de Zurich 2008, Berne 2010 pp. 108-12).)) Each scene has an architectural frame with a semi-circular pediment inscribed ‘1563’, on which are seated two satyrs playing bagpipes. The frame is flanked by two female herms with baskets of fruit on their heads standing on an architectural plinth, each end of which is inhabited by a crouching grotesque humanoid hybrid with a pair of grotesque birds between them. The plinths bear English inscriptions describing the scenes. Only two of these survive, one being ‘Solomon maketh an offeryng unto ye lorde’ (Fig. 17), and the other ‘The rych quene of arabya bryngeth geaustes unto Solomon 3 REGUM 10 CH’ (Fig. 18).

The panels are in a very poor condition and only three of the six original Solomon scenes now remain. These have suffered complete paint loss so the subjects can only be deduced from the shapes of the yellow-stained areas. The surrounds have fared slightly better but only one survives in its entirety and all have suffered heavy paint loss.

The panels are still accompanied by three early 18th-century inscriptions ‘Ex Dono Edm[und]i Feild Arm[iger]i’. This records that they were a gift from Edmund Field, Esq., who brought them from his residence five miles west of Harlow at Stanstead Bury, Hertfordshire, ‘in which place was a room called Solomon’s room’ suggesting that they were regarded as a notable feature of the house.((Muilman, op. cit., pp. 73-74.)) In 1559 Elizabeth I granted Stanstead Bury to Edward Baesh of London, who was an M.P., J.P., High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, and general surveyor of victuals for the royal navy and marine affairs in England and Ireland during the reigns of Elizabeth and her three predecessors. His crest dated 1563 which remains in an upstairs window is contemporary with his extension of the house.((‘Parishes: Stanstead Abbots’, in A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3, ed. William Page (London, 1912) pp. 366-373; http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol3/pp366-373 ; https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1051056 ; ‘Stanstead Bury’, Stanstead Abbotts Local History Society 3 (October 2012) ( http://www.salhs.org.uk/folders/News/Pub3.pdf ).)) Since Elizabeth I stayed at Stanstead Bury during her progresses in 1571 and 1576, it seems likely that Baesh redecorated the house to be a fitting venue to host her royal progresses, as her wealthier subjects were encouraged to do, sometimes impoverishing themselves in the process.

The Solomon panels are dated 1563, suggesting that Baesh either imported them from the Netherlands or employed Netherlandish glaziers working in England to produce them. It is unusual to find continental panels complete with such settings in England from this period, since the mass importation of foreign panels only began in the 18th century and few of these retained their ornamental surrounds. However there is an interesting comparable example at St Botolph’s church, Lullingstone (Kent) which contains two panels from a Solomon series like that at Harlow but better preserved (Fig. 20). As at Harlow, these two panels are the centrepieces in elaborate surrounds containing inscriptions in English and the date 1563, although the Lullingstone surrounds are of a different shape and design. They were probably acquired by Sir Percival Hart, whose career parallels that of Edward Baesh: having inherited Lullingstone Castle from his uncle, he took up residence there c.1560 and rebuilt the house. He served four monarchs including Elizabeth I, whom he hosted at another of his houses in 1573.((Canon Scott Robertson, ‘Church of St Botolph, Lullingstone’, Archaeologia Cantiana 16, 1886, pp. 104-108. Sir Percival also probably acquired the five Netherlandish roundels in circular decorated surrounds of mid-16th-c date now in Lullingstone church. One of these depicts the Fountain of Life with the English inscription ‘IF ANI MAN THIRST COME TO ME AND DRINCK’. Its depiction of Christ crucified on a vine springing from a fountain from which laypeople drink while Roman Catholic churchmen remain oblivious marks it out as another example of suitably Reformed subject matter produced for the English market.)) The panels are believed to have been in Lullingstone Castle before being moved to the church. These two series of Solomon panels imply either that such series in ornamental surrounds were being produced in the Netherlands specifically for sale to English buyers or that Netherlandish glaziers were working in England in 1563 producing them for wealthy clients. The surrounds at Harlow and Lullingstone are inferior in quality to Netherlandish models but they must have appealed to English buyers as examples of continental sophistication that would impress their neighbours and perhaps even their queen. The scenes themselves exemplify religious subject matter deemed acceptable to the Reformed church recently established in Elizabethan England which had ordered the destruction of superstitious images, leading to the removal or defacing of many windows in churches.((Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars (New Haven & London 2005) pp. 565-93.)) However, events from the life of the wise and godly Old Testament ruler Solomon were not only impeccably scriptural in origin, but were by implication flattering to his successors in true religion, namely other godly monarchs such as the queen.

The placing of the Solomon series in a window of the chancel at Harlow 150 years later may have been yet another example of the High Church emphasis on legitimate royal authority, as illustrated by Solomon’s rule over the Israelites. Even if they were still in perfect condition, these panels must have appeared antiquated in style and lacking in colour compared to the newly-glazed windows around them, suggesting that they were probably installed in this prominent position for their didactic rather than their decorative qualities. 

Fig. 16. Armorial of See of London impaling Bishop Compton (nVI 5c) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 17. Solomon makes a sacrifice (nVI 1c) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 18. Solomon receives the Queen of Sheba (nVI 2c) (Image © Christopher Parkinson)

Fig. 19. Château de Chaumont: Solomon receives the Queen of Sheba (© Drs Kees Berserik)

Fig. 20. Lullingstone, Church of St Botolph: Solomon is anointed king (© Geoffrey Lane)

Regrettably, the early 18th-century glazing including the Price windows fell victim to changing taste((Fisher op. cit. pp. 68-69 dismisses the remnants as being of poor quality and inferior, showing the disdain for glazing of this period which so often led to its destruction.)) and was swept away during the 19th century, to be replaced by a Victorian scheme by Hardman and Co. Only a few pieces remain to bear witness to Joshua Price’s work and to illustrate the religious and political beliefs of earlier generations of Anglican subjects and their relationship with their sovereigns.


The author would like to thank Drs Kees Berserik, Geoffrey Lane and Professor Nigel Morgan for their assistance. All photographs by Christopher Parkinson unless otherwise stated.


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