John Pike Hedgeland

John Pike Hedgeland, 1791-1873

Angela Phippen

Extract

This article examines the life and work of architect and stained glass artist John Pike Hedgeland. It includes discussion of his restoration of medieval windows and the creation of new windows, within the broader context of his personal and family life.

 

Fig. 1. John Pike Hedgeland. Photo reproduced with the permission of Harry Atkinson. Fig. 1. John Pike Hedgeland. Photo reproduced with the permission of Harry Atkinson.

Fig. 1. John Pike Hedgeland. Photo reproduced with the permission of Harry Atkinson.

John Pike Hedgeland, shown in Fig. 1, is remembered for two reasons: firstly, for the stained glass firm that operated under his name from 1830 to 1849 and then under the direction of his son, George Caleb, until 1859; secondly, for the ‘work of destruction’ and ‘mischief’ that was wrought on the chapel windows of King’s College, Cambridge between 1841 and 1849.((The Guardian, 7 November 1849, issue 199, p. 733. This is the religious newspaper The Guardian, not the Manchester Guardian.)) Criticism of his work has been strident by some, more nuanced by others, but it has cast a shadow over his entire professional life. His work deserves, at least, to be documented, and in some respects defended.

Hedgeland was baptised on 13 October 1791 at St George’s, Exeter, one of eight children born to Caleb and Mary Hedgeland (née Pike).((Determined from index entries to various church registers on www.ancestry.com Accessed 27 March 2021.)) Caleb was a joiner, architect, builder and model maker who, in 1817, began work on a model of Exeter as it appeared in 1769, the year in which the first of the city’s medieval gates, the North Gate, was removed. The model still exists.((‘Caleb Hedgeland’s Model of Exeter in 1769’, posted 5 January 2012 by Wolfpaw. http://demolition-exeter.blogspot.com/2012/01/hedgelands-model-of-exeter-in-1769.html Accessed 27 March 2021.))

John began his professional life as an architect; indeed, for most of his life that is what he called himself. In 1819 he won a silver medallion for a design of a nobleman’s mansion.((Transactions of the Society, instituted at London, for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce with the premiums offered in the year 1819, vol XXXVII, p. xxxiii.)) Two years later he published First part of a series of designs for private dwellings.((Early printed books, 1478–1840: catalogue of the British Architectural Library early imprints collection, 1995, p. 787.)) For the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1822 he produced A Church in St Pancras and A Room in Salters’ Hall; and for the exhibition of 1823 he submitted An elevation of the west front of a proposed church.((Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts: a complete dictionary of contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, Vol IV, Harral to Lawranson, London, 1906, p. 61. The Exhibition of the Royal Academy, MDCCCXXIII, London, n.d., p. 41.)) Letters dated September to October 1823 detail his architectural work on the Ashford Estate in Buckinghamshire.((Originals held in private collection; digital copy provided to author.)) During these years he lived at 53 Warren Street, Fitzroy Square, London.((At the time he won the silver medallion in 1819 he was living in Warren Street, Fitzroy Square. For the Royal Academy exhibition the address was given as no. 53. This does not accord with his evidence at the Old Bailey in 1825: that he had lived at Mary Muss’s dwelling for about five months as her address was 53 Warren Street, Fitzroy Square.)) This was where he was residing when, on 24 July 1824, he married Harriet Taylor of All Saints’, Kingston, Surrey, by licence, at St Pancras Parish Church.((St Pancras Parish Chapel marriage registers on www.ancestry.com Accessed 27 March 2021; also Monthly magazine, or, British Register, September 1824, p. 192 and Dorset County Chronicle, 5 August 1824.))

By 1825 Hedgeland was working for Mary Muss, the widow of Charles Muss (1779–1824) who had been an enamel painter, etcher and stained glass artist in London. Muss had trained James Henry Nixon who later entered into a partnership with the London glazier Thomas Ward. Hedgeland managed the studio after Charles’ death.((Tony Benyon, ‘The development of antique and other glasses used in 19th and 20th century stained glass’, Journal of Stained Glass, vol. 29, 2005, p. 184.)) In April 1825 he gave evidence at the Old Bailey at the trial of George and William Hannell who were indicted for ‘stealing on the 8th of March, 30lbs weight of coloured glass, value £61 the goods of Mary Muss, widow’.((Old Bailey Session Papers https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18250407-229&div=t18250407-229&terms=hedgland – highlight https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18250407-230&div=t18250407-230&terms=hedgland – highlight Accessed 27 March 2021. Referred to as Hedgland.)) Hedgeland stated that he superintended the business of Mrs Mary Muss at her factory at 30 Mary Street, Hampstead Road London where the glass was made. Her dwelling house was in Warren Street, Fitzroy Square where he had lived for about five months. On the same day, William Hannell was also indicted for ‘stealing, on the 17th of March, 100lbs weight of coloured glass value £201, the goods of Mary Muss, widow’. Hedgeland was the first witness to give evidence. Employed in the same workshop at that time was Benjamin Baillie.((Benyon, ‘The development of antique and other glasses’, p. 184.)) Hedgeland, Nixon and Baillie would work on the restoration of the medieval windows of St Neot, Cornwall from 1826 to 1829.

Work at St Neot Church, Cornwall, 1826-1829

Fig. 2. St Neot, Cornwall, coloured illustration of Window I, The Institution of the Lord’s Supper. Image from J. P. Hedgeland, A Description accompanied by Sixteen Coloured Plates, Plate VII.

Fig. 2. St Neot, Cornwall, coloured illustration of Window I, The Institution of the Lord’s Supper. Image from J. P. Hedgeland, A Description accompanied by Sixteen Coloured Plates, Plate VII.

The medieval windows at St Neot have been described by Christopher Woodforde as ‘the most important example of the glazing of a remote church between 1480 and 1530’, by John Betjemen as the ‘Fairford of the West’ and by Richard Marks as ‘a rare instance of a unified programme provided by multiple donors’.((Christopher Woodforde, English stained and painted glass, Oxford, 1954, p. 31. John Betjeman, updated by Richard Surman, Betjeman’s Best British churches, London, 2011, p. 159. Richard Marks, Stained Glass in England During the Middle Ages, London, 1993, p. 64.)) From 1792 to 1820 Richard Gerveys Grylls had been vicar of St Neot. Between 1826 to 1829, while his son Reverend Henry Grylls was vicar at the church, the windows were ‘restored, renewed and ornamented’ at his [Richard’s] own expense. This was necessary because ‘through neglect and lapse of time, [they] had fallen into decay’.((The Rev Henry Grylls, Descriptive sketch of the windows of St Neot Church, in Cornwall, as restored by the Rev Richard Gerveys Grylls of Helston in the years 1826, 1827, 1828 and 1829, 3rd edition, 1844, p. 40.)) Hedgeland was the designer and conductor of the work; Nixon the painter and Baillie the glazier.((The Rev Henry Grylls, Descriptive sketch of the windows of St Neot Church, in Cornwall, p. 40.))

The work at St Neot involved both the restoration of the medieval windows and creation of new windows where the original fabric was considered too mutilated to be saved. In all, sixteen windows were worked upon. Twelve were restored with some movement of glass between windows. Four windows were new. Using the CVMA numbering system, these were – Window I: The Institution of the Lord’s Supper; Window nII: Descent of the Holy Ghost, Stoning of St Stephen, Conversion of Saul, Paul preaching before Felix; Window nIII: Descent from the Cross, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension; Window sIX: an armorial window. Hedgeland also worked on the tracery lights in sIII, sIV, sV, sVI, using modern glass or fragments of old glass with modern glass to his own designs. In the case of Window I, Hedgeland used a coloured wood block print, one of ‘a very curious collection’ preserved in the British Museum, executed in the 15th century, as the character of this print was considered to accord with the general style of the windows better than the representations of the same subject matter given by the great masters.((The Rev Henry Grylls, Descriptive sketch of the windows of St Neot Church, in Cornwall, p. 20.))

 

Hedgeland was also part of the contemporary discussion about the windows.

In April, 1829 a paper on glass was read at the Royal Society of Arts, and in the subsequent discussion the subject of corrosion cropped up as generally happens after every lecture on glass-painting, when ‘some very curious specimens of glass corroded or decomposed by long exposure in the air, being part of a window in the church of St Neot in Cornwall’ were exhibited by Mr Hedgeland, the glass painter by whom the windows were at that time being restored.((The Architectural Review, vol. 149, 1921, p. 110.))

Fig. 3. St Neot, Cornwall, coloured illustration of Window nII, Descent of the Holy Ghost, Stoning of St Stephen, Conversion of Saul, Paul preaching before Felix. Image from J. P. Hedgeland, A Description accompanied by Sixteen Coloured Plates, Plate XIV.

Fig. 3. St Neot, Cornwall, coloured illustration of Window nII, Descent of the Holy Ghost, Stoning of St Stephen, Conversion of Saul, Paul preaching before Felix. Image from J. P. Hedgeland, A Description accompanied by Sixteen Coloured Plates, Plate XIV.

In 1830 Hedgeland published a volume of coloured engravings of his work at St Neot, incorporating contributions from Davies Gilbert (Figs 2 and 3).((A Description, accompanied by Sixteen Coloured Plates of The Splendid Decorations Recently Made To The Church of St. Neot, in Cornwall, At The Sole Expense Of The Reverend Richard Gerveys Grylls, By J. P. Hedgeland, to which are prefixed, Some Collections and Translations respecting St Neot, and the Former State Of His Church by Davies Gilbert, M.A., P.R.S., F.A.S., London, 1830.)) Gilbert described Hedgeland as ‘an able and celebrated artist, residing in London, who has most carefully preserved every fragment of the ancient painting, and supplied deficiencies in a manner so perfectly like the former, as not to be distinguishable from it’.((A Description, accompanied by Sixteen Coloured Plates, p. 2.)) John Betjeman stated the windows of medieval glass were sensitively renewed.((Betjeman, Betjeman’s Best British churches, p. 159.)) Others were not so kind, describing them as being ‘drastically’ restored.((Woodforde, English stained and painted glass, p. 31. Richard Marks, Stained Glass in England During the Middle Ages, London, 1993, p. 6.))

During this period, Hedgeland’s personal life was flourishing. His first child, George Caleb, was baptised in September 1826.((Bishop’s transcripts of baptismal registers of St Mary’s, Guildford on www.ancestry.com Only lists baptismal date. An 1898 obituary for George lists his birth year as 1825.)) John Henry (known as Henry) was born 16 April 1827 when the family was living in Claremont Place in the current London Borough of Islington. Edward Charles was born 24 October 1828.((Registers of St Pancras, Middlesex. www.ancestry.com Accessed 27 March 2021. Registers of Christ Church, St Marylebone. http://www.ancestry.com/  Accessed 27 March 2021. Though born in 1828, he was not baptised until 1831.)) By 1830 the family was living at Grove Place, Lisson Grove, London.((When George Hedgeland moved to new premises in Baker Street, his advertisement stated that the stained glass business had moved from Grove Place which had been established in 1830; when the King’s College dining hall oriel window was completed in September 1830, John’s address was Grove Place.))

Hedgeland next embarked on what would be a 20-year relationship with King’s College, Cambridge which spanned three projects: firstly, the installation of stained glass in the Dining Hall (1829/1830–1838); secondly, the restoration of windows in King’s College Chapel (1841–1849) and thirdly, the creation of a new window, The Brazen Serpent, in the chapel (1847). While the end of this relationship was acrimonious, the early years were amicable.

King’s College Cambridge: dining hall: 1829/30 to 1838

In December 1829 Hedgeland submitted six designs for heraldic glass for the Dining Hall.((Design for heraldic glass for windows in the Hall of the Wilkins Building, 21 December 1829, Cambridge, King’s College Archive, KCD/386. One of six designs for heraldic glass by JH https://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/archive-centre/online-resources/online-exhibitions/georgian-gothic-the-hall-at-kings Accessed 29 March 2021. See also KCD/383-389.)) Between 1830 and 1838 he completed three commissions for windows along its north wall, the layout of which is shown in Figs 4 and 5: an oriel window, N5 (1830); N6, N7, N8 (1833); and N2, N3, N4 (1838).

The oriel window N5, completed by September 1830, had as its central feature a full-length portrait of the founder, Henry VI, crowned and holding a sceptre in his right hand (Fig. 6). The entire window contained nearly 300 feet of glass and consisted of upwards of 5,000 pieces of various colours.((Morning Advertiser, 27 September 1830.))

Fig. 4. Layout of groups of Coats of Arms along north wall of Dining Hall, King’s College, Cambridge, based on a visual inspection by the author in November 2016. The window numbers shown are those used in Hilary Wayment’s notes, WKB/79 and WKB/79A, King’s College Archive.

Fig. 4. Layout of groups of Coats of Arms along north wall of Dining Hall, King’s College, Cambridge, based on a visual inspection by the author in November 2016. The window numbers shown are those used in Hilary Wayment’s notes, WKB/79 and WKB/79A, King’s College Archive.

Fig. 5. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, Hedgeland windows. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 5. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, Hedgeland windows. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 6. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N5. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 6. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N5. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

In June 1833 Hedgeland installed three windows east of the oriel N6, N7, N8 (Figs 7-9). Three of the north-west windows, N2, N3, N4 were filled in August 1838, each containing the armorial bearings of six distinguished members of the college including peers and statesmen educated at the College, doctors, benefactors, bishops, provosts and judges (Figs 10-12).((Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 22 June 1833; Morning Post, 6 August 1838.)) All of these windows survive and have recently been conserved by Holy Well Glass.((Facebook and Instagram post of 27 November 2020. ‘This week we’ve been putting the finishing touches to conservation of the wonderful John Pike Hedgeland scheme at King’s College Cambridge – just look at the vibrancy of those colours!’ Accessed 27 March 2021.))

Fig. 7. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N6. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 7. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N6. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 10. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N2. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 10. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N2. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 8. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N7. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 8. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N7. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 11. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N3. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 11. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N3. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 9. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N8. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 9. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N8. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 12. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N4. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 12. King’s College Dining Hall, Cambridge, N4. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Work in the west of England: 1836-1843

Fig. 13. St Michael’s, Helston, Cornwall, Transfiguration. Photo: reproduced with the permission of Cornish Stained Glass. Please add endnote 39 here as follows (this provides the link requested by Cornish Stained glass and will keep the footnote numbering as it should be) : https://www.cornishstainedglass.org.uk/mgsdb/window.xhtml?churchid=71&locid=177 Accessed 27 March.

Fig. 13. St Michael’s, Helston, Cornwall, Transfiguration. Photo: reproduced with the permission of Cornish Stained Glass.

During Hedgeland’s work on the windows of King’s Dining Hall his base remained at Grove Place in London, but he also completed work closer to his family home in Exeter. This may have had more to do with his personal circumstances than professional choice at a time when he needed support from his wider family. His family had continued to grow with the birth of William Martin on 28 June 1830, James Frederick (known as Frederick) on 26 October 1831 and Samuel Alfred in June 1833.((Registers of Christ Church, St Marylebone. www.ancestry.com Accessed 27 March 2021.)) However, in the following three years, John’s mother, wife and three of his children died: Samuel on 5 July 1833; John’s mother Mary on 31 March 1834; Septimus Taylor born on 27 May 1835 died 27 August 1835 followed in September by John’s wife, Harriet.((Registers of Christ Church, St Marylebone. www.ancestry.com Accessed 27 March 2021. Woolmer’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 5 April 1834. The Times 22 September 1835.)) Edward Charles (born 1828), died 21 February 1836.((Registers of Christ Church, St Marylebone. www.ancestry.com, Accessed 27 March 2021.)) While such maternal and infant mortality was not unusual in the nineteenth century, it meant Hedgeland was now a widower with four children under 11.

In July 1836 he completed a window for St Paul’s Church, Exeter. Announced in the press as a ‘beautiful painted window’, it contained a full-length figure of St Paul.((The Western Times, 16 July 1836.)) In the following week the same newspaper published that there had been ‘fine and very superior designs for the same work by Mr Westlake of Fore Street Hill Budleigh Salterton Devon, which exhibit a great degree of taste, correctedness (sic) of drawing and colour’.((The Western Times, 23 July 1836.)) St Paul’s was demolished in 1936.((‘St Paul’s Church, Paul Street’, posted by Wolfpaw on 21 October 2010. http://demolition-exeter.blogspot.com/2010/10/parish-and-church-of-st-paul_21.html Accessed 27 March 2021.)) It is unknown whether Hedgeland’s window was still in the church by this time.

In 1837 Hedgeland designed and painted the east window in St James’ new church, St Sidwell’s, also in Exeter. This was of three lights and contained images of St James the Apostle and in the side lights ‘appropriate devices of stained glass: the upper parts terminating with the arms of the Bishop of the diocese, and the Arms of the donor’ (Mrs Wilkinson). Described as being ‘a splendid work of art, the colours being rich and vivid, the design chaste and appropriate, and the execution altogether most creditable to the artist’, it cost nearly 200 guineas.((Woolmer’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 22 April 1837.)) The church was extensively renovated in the second half of the nineteenth century, beginning in 1877/1878. Hedgeland’s window was replaced by one created by Clayton & Bell.((Exeter Flying Post, 30 October 1878.))

In September 1843 Hedgeland completed the east window in St Michael’s, Helston in Cornwall, a memorial window to George Simon Borlase who had died 19 March 1837 (Figs 13-15).((https://www.cornishstainedglass.org.uk/mgsdb/window.xhtml?churchid=71&locid=177 Accessed 27 March.)) It featured the Transfiguration based on the artwork by Ludovico Caracci from the Bologna Gallery.((The Cornwall Royal Gazette, Falmouth Packet and Plymouth Journal, 22 September 1843.)) A print of the same image also exists in the British Museum by Giuliano Traballesi.((Giuliano Traballesi, 1854,1020.1571 https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1854-1020-1571 Accessed 27 March 2021.)) He doubtless received this commission because of his connection to Reverend Richard Gerveys Grylls who was the minister at Helston at the time and who had paid for the restorations at St Neot Church. Though not in situ, this window exists above the side door of the church.

 

Fig. 14. St Michael’s, Helston, Cornwall, Transfiguration, close-up of maker’s mark. Photo: reproduced with the kind permission of Cornish Stained Glass, see note 39.

Fig. 14. St Michael’s, Helston, Cornwall, Transfiguration, close-up of maker’s mark. Photo: reproduced with the kind permission of Cornish Stained Glass.

Fig. 15. St Michael’s, Helston, Cornwall, showing current position of window. Photo: reproduced by kind permission of the Reverend David Miller.

Fig. 15. St Michael’s, Helston, Cornwall, showing current position of window. Photo:
reproduced by kind permission of the Reverend David Miller.

Work in King’s College Chapel: 1841-1849

Fig. 16. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, Window 14.1, The Brazen Serpent (above) with Naomi and Ruth in mourning (lower left). Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 16. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, Window 14.1, The Brazen Serpent (above) with Naomi and Ruth in mourning (lower left). Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Hedgeland is most famous, and most criticised, for his work on the restoration of some of the windows in King’s College Chapel and the creation of a new window there. As has been seen, over nearly a ten-year period, he had been employed by the College to work on the windows in the Dining Hall. That, and his prior work at St Neot, made him a logical choice to work on the medieval chapel windows. Between 1841 and 1849 Hedgeland took down and repaired a single centre compartment as a trial, moved the glass from the upper part to the lower part of Window 14, cleaned and restored ten windows (windows 8-12 and 15-19), and created a new window, The Brazen Serpent, for the upper part of Window 14 (Figs 16 and 17). Hilary Wayment’s window numbering scheme is used here to identify the chapel windows.((Hilary Wayment, The Windows of Kings College Chapel Cambridge CVMA GB Supplementary volume 1, London, 1972.))

Over this period, the College voted on twelve separate occasions to provide funds for him to undertake his work.((Cambridge, King’s College Archive, Memorandum, Mr Walker, undated but post March 1849, KCC 61/1.)) The first vote was in May 1841 when it was agreed he should take down and repair a single centre compartment.((Ibid.)) This is likely to have been Window 25, lower right-hand, The Coronation of the Virgin.((Montague Rhodes James, A guide to the windows of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, London, 1899, p. 34, quoting the late Robert Willis, edited with large additions by John Willis Clark, The architectural history of the University of Cambridge, and of the Colleges of Cambridge and Eton, volume I, Cambridge, 1886, p. 515.)) The second vote, in November 1841, related specifically to Window 14. Ruth and Naomi in mourning had been originally placed in the upper part of this window; the lower part had no window opening as it was intended this section of the chapel would connect to an adjacent building, but this was never built. Hedgeland was therefore employed to move Ruth and Naomi to a newly created opening in the lower part.

The public announcement about the restoration of the windows was made in November 1841. There were 24 painted windows (exclusive of the east window); it was estimated that each window would cost £400 pounds (total of £9,600 pounds) and that the entire project would take 12 years.((Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, 29 November 1841.)) That costing was a bit enthusiastic as later documents show that the cost per window ‘should not exceed £200’.((Cambridge, King’s College Archive, Memorandum, Mr Walker undated but post March 1849, KCC 61/1.))

By 1843 the College was sufficiently anxious about the restorations to seek the opinion of Augustus Welby Pugin. Pugin’s letter of 16 September 1843 stated that if the windows did not want substantial repairs, they might as well remain untouched. If the substantial repairs were necessary and the lights must be taken down it was certainly right to remove all incongruous pieces and to restore them to the original design by the introduction of new pieces to match. Pugin commented that however well repaired, the windows would not produce the same dazzling effect as the old ones for some years to come.((Cambridge, King’s College Archive, KCC 61/1.))

Hedgeland was aware of these concerns as he wrote in 1849:

The repairing of these windows commenced some eight or nine years since. Detractions soon followed, and an eminent person, fully competent, was appointed to examine the windows and report upon them – This was done, and the report completely disproved the assertions … which had been industriously circulated to my prejudice.((Letter to the Editor, The Guardian, 21 November 1849, issue 201, p. 762.))

Fig. 17. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, Window 14.1, The Brazen Serpent, close-up. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 17. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, Window 14.1, The Brazen Serpent, close-up. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Without an outright condemnation from Pugin, the restorations continued. In 1844 Charles Winston, barrister and, along with Pugin, an acknowledged expert in stained glass, referred to windows that had been improved by cleaning; some of those he mentioned were the windows of King’s College Chapel.((Charles Winston, ‘Painted glass’, The archaeological journal, vol. I, London, 1845, introduction dated March 1844, p. 19.))

Following an unsuccessful bid to glaze windows at the Houses of Parliament, London, Hedgeland continued with cleaning and restoration of windows at King’s College Chapel.((Along with many other stained-glass artists, he submitted designs for the windows at the Houses of Parliament which included ‘whole length figures representing the sovereigns of England, in regular succession from the reign of King Alfred … A very meritorious design of one story of figures which, however, have the common fault of being too stumpy’ (The Builder, vol. 2, no LXVI, 11 May 1844, p. 235). He also supplied an example of his design in glass (The Bell’s New Weekly Messenger, 28 April 1844).)) In 1845 he was given the greatest honour possible for a stained glass artist; the opportunity to create a new window for the Chapel. This would be placed into the upper register of Window 14 from which he had removed Ruth and Naomi four years earlier.((Ipswich Journal, 12 July 1845.))  He chose as his subject The Brazen Serpent and copied the artwork of Peter Paul Rubens who had created many versions of this scene (Figs 16 and 17). Hedgeland used the painting which had been purchased by the National Gallery in 1837.((‘The Brazen Serpent by Peter Paul Rubens’, National Gallery, London, https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/peter-paul-rubens-the-brazen-serpent Accessed 27 March 2021.)) In creating this new window Hedgeland ignored the layout of all the other windows in the chapel by spreading his design over five lights, instead of having two separate scenes with Messengers in the middle and Carola Hicks criticised this in 2007.((Carola Hicks, The King’s glass: a story of Tudor power and secret art, London, 2007, p. 209.)) However, at the time the college knew the window would be ‘stained glass representing the Brazen Serpent in the Wilderness after Rubens’.((The late Robert Willis, edited with large additions by John Willis Clark, The architectural history of the University of Cambridge, and of the Colleges of Cambridge and Eton, volume I, Cambridge, p. 515, footnote 3.)) Hedgeland was copying a 17th-century artwork, not recreating a medieval one. His version in glass was a faithful rendering of the canvas.((Later nineteenth-century criticism referred to Hedgeland’s Brazen Serpent window as ‘terrific’, in the archaic sense as causing terror, and ‘hideous’. See ‘The windows of King’s College Chapel’, The Cambridge Review, 26 May 1893, p. 332. Montague Rhodes James, one of Hedgeland’s fiercest critics, stated ‘It would be difficult to exaggerate the badness’. See James, A guide to the windows of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, p. 22.))

An enthusiastic review of the window in 1847 described:

The agony and writhings of those who are bitten by the fiery serpents (many of which are seen hurtling in the air) are beautifully portrayed. The colours are rich and very beautiful, especially the robe of Moses (a deep crimson, though when compared with those on either side, which are mellowed by time, it looks rather glaring); still it is a very exquisite piece of painting, and will well repay a visit to this time-worn edifice.((Cambridge Independent Press, 17 April 1847.))

Fig. 18. Kings College Chapel, Cambridge, Window 14.1, The Brazen Serpent, detail of Moses. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 18. Kings College Chapel, Cambridge, Window 14.1, The Brazen Serpent, detail of Moses. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Perhaps it was the description in The Ecclesiologist in December 1848, stating that Moses looked as if he had come from Holywell Street, which brought the window to the attention of many more critics (Figs 18 and 19).((The Ecclesiologist, no. LXIX, new series XXXIII, December 1848, p. 146.)) Holywell Street was the centre for the sale of pornography in Victorian London.((Holywell Street, London https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holywell_Street,_London Accessed 27 March 2021.)) In the same article, in relation to the restored windows, was the comment that ‘wherever the artist has been compelled to supply what was wanting, the inferiority of his work is painfully conspicuous’.((The Ecclesiologist, no. LXIX, new series XXXIII, December 1848, p. 146.)) If there had been distant rumblings of criticism up to this point, the sound now became thunderous.

The editor of The Guardian on 7 November 1849 spoke of ‘a work of destruction going on in the magnificent chapel of King’s’, ‘their beauty is being destroyed, much richness of colour is lost, and bad drawing evident, where new glass has been inserted in place of that broken in their removal’.((The Guardian, 7 November 1849, issue 199, p. 733.))

 

Thus began a series of letters from Hedgeland to the editor of The Guardian and various officials at King’s, the latter lasting until 1853.((Cambridge, King’s College Archive, KCC 61 / 1.)) This has been seen as ‘a long correspondence … between him and the College, in which he attempted to justify the course he had pursued’.((The late Robert Willis, edited with large additions by John Willis Clark, The architectural history of the University of Cambridge, p. 516.)) Others comment that he ‘pestered’ the College for another three years.((Hicks, The King’s glass, p. 211.)) This latter assertion is not supported by the evidence. Between November 1849 and March 1853, he wrote nine letters to the Provost or Vice-Provost of the College, five of which were in November 1849, at the height of the controversy. The last letter of 28 March 1853 was a follow-up on his previous letter of April 1851, a gap of 23 months.((In his letters to The Guardian and sent to the College, Hedgeland defends all the charges made against him as to loss of colour, breaking of glass in removal and the replacement of heads; the number of letters is determined by those that survive at Cambridge, Kings College Archive, KCC 61/1.))

Fig. 19. Kings College Chapel, Cambridge, Window 14.1, The Brazen Serpent, detail of Eleazar. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 19. Kings College Chapel, Cambridge, Window 14.1, The Brazen Serpent, detail of Eleazar. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

There is also the contention that it became an ‘obsession’ and that it “unhinged his mind”.((Hicks, The King’s glass, p 211)) Perhaps it did. When his son George submitted a stained glass entry for the Great Exhibition, it was reported he was ‘a young man working against difficulties’ but the nature of those difficulties was not explained.((Bury and Norwich Post and Suffolk Herald, 12 November 1851.)) Hedgeland’s letters are concerned with the ‘gross injustice which I have sustained by the misrepresentations’ and the ‘subsequent proceedings of my assailants’; they come across as belligerent rather than irrational .((Cambridge, King’s College Archive, KCC 61 / 1, Letter to Rev. Richard Okes, Provost, 28 March 1853.)) He believed he had been denied natural justice as he was not given an opportunity to explain himself to, or defend himself against, those who were passing judgement on his work, and ultimately his livelihood.

Pugin and Winston were consulted by King’s in March 1850. Pugin’s view was that the general effect of the cleaned or restored windows produced a most unfavourable impression on his mind in 1843 and he had always expressed considerable regret that the restoration was ever commenced .((Cambridge, King’s College Archive, KCC 61 / 1, Letter Pugin to the College, c. 30 March 1850 .)) Winston believed that the windows had been as carefully cleaned as it was possible, and that no injury had been done to the glass by the cleaning — it may have been here and there a portion of the enamel bronze had started from the glass, but he was persuaded by the experiments he himself made and by former experience, that the quantity of enamel bronze cleaned off had been almost infinitesimal .((Cambridge, Kings’ College Archive, KCC 61 / 1, Letter Winston to Williams, 12 April 1850.)) He also believed that the windows which had been cleaned were much more satisfactory than those which had not been cleaned .((Cambridge, King’s College Archive, KCC 61 / 1, Letter Winston to Williams, 4 June 1850.)) However, he conceded there had been ‘unnecessary substitution of certain modern heads for old ones’ (Figs 20-23) .((Ibid)) In Hilary Wayment’s monumental study and recording of the windows, he referred to the fact that not less than fifty-five heads were replaced, and at least three refired and that it was scarcely surprising that these drastic methods had aroused growing opposition.((Hilary Wayment, The windows of King’s College Chapel Cambridge: a description and commentary, London, 1972, p. 41.)) The issue of the substituted heads is the often-quoted criticism.((James, A guide to the windows of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, p. 16–17; C R Fay, Kings College Cambridge, London, 1907.))

 

Fig. 20. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, detail from Window 8.4. Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Head of Christ and golden-haired man behind him are by Hedgeland. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 20. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, detail from Window 8.4. Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Head of Christ and golden-haired man behind him are by Hedgeland. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 21. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, detail from Window 17.1. Reuben at the empty pit. Reuben’s head is by Hedgeland. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 21. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, detail from Window 17.1. Reuben at the empty pit. Reuben’s head is by Hedgeland. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

The Dean, George Williams stated in a letter to the Vice-Provost that he considered the restored windows had been very seriously injured, if not ruined, by the cleansing and that more new glass has been introduced than was at all necessary.((Cambridge, King’s College Archive, KCC 61/1, Letter of 20 March 1850.)) Hedgeland was dismissed.

170 years after the controversy and resultant outrage at King’s, Wayment’s measured commentary from half a century ago is worth repeating. He stated that Hedgeland’s work was not as drastic as that undertaken by others and that it compared well with Betton and Evans at Winchester. Importantly, Wayment argued that Hedgeland was handicapped by the material which he had to use. He explained that although some potmetal was then available, the colours were mostly very brash. He thought that Hedgeland’s ruby and purple-murrey were passable; his blue potmetal was too hot; his green and violet, both livid, and easy to detect from the ground but the pink-murrey used by the sixteenth-century glaziers often crazed so that Hedgeland was obliged to replace this either with his brash violet, or with a pinkish enamel.((Hilary Wayment, The windows of King’s College Chapel Cambridge: a description and commentary, p. 41.))

 

Fig. 22. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, detail from Window 19.2. The Incredulity of Thomas. The three heads on the right-hand side are by Hedgeland. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 22. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, detail from Window 19.2. The Incredulity of Thomas. The three heads on the right-hand side are by Hedgeland. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 23. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, detail from Window 19.4. Christ’s appearance to the apostles. The head of the apostle in the lower foreground and of the golden-haired apostle in vermilion-ruby (St John) are by Hedgeland. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

Fig. 23. King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, detail from Window 19.4. Christ’s appearance to the apostles. The head of the apostle in the lower foreground and of the golden-haired apostle in vermilion-ruby (St John) are by Hedgeland. Photo: A. Phippen, reproduced by the kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King’s College Cambridge.

The later years

Fig. 24. John Hedgeland’s headstone in Higher Cemetery, Exeter. Photo  Toltecia, contributor 47938045 at https://www.findagrave.com. Reproduced by kind permission.

Fig. 24. John Hedgeland’s headstone in Higher Cemetery, Exeter. Photo  Toltecia, contributor 47938045 at https://www.findagrave.com. Reproduced by kind permission.

No identified work by John Pike has been found after 1849. In terms of ‘Hedgeland’ stained glass in the 1850s, it is only the work of George that is referred to in the records.

On census night in 1851, Hedgeland was at Grove Place with sons William and Frederick; George, described as an ‘artist’, was with his late mother’s family, the Taylor’s, in Quarry Street, Guildford. A fourth son, Henry, was at Matford Terrace in Exeter with his aunts. He was described as ‘late glazier’, which indicates he had been part of his father’s business.((1851 census. www.ancestry.com Exeter St Leonards. Matford Terrace HO 107/1866; Christ Church, St Marylebone HO 107/1490; St Mary’s, Guildford HO 107/1594. Accessed 27 March 2021.))

Hedgeland continued to be listed in the London Post Office Directory until 1854, but in 1855 it was his sons, George and William, who were recorded. In 1858 George advertised a new address in Baker Street, Portman Square, having relocated the stained glass business from Lisson Grove.((The Ecclesiastical Gazette beginning at least July 1858 to May 1859; The Builder, 17 July 1858.))

By 1861 John P. Hedgeland, widower and retired architect, was living in Matford Terrace, Exeter with his three unmarried sisters Sarah, Charlotte and Mary.((1861 census. www.ancestry.com Exeter St Leonards. Matford Terrace RG9/1387. Accessed 27 March 2021.)) By that time, two of his sons, Frederick and George, had emigrated to Australia. By the middle 1860s, but probably earlier, he was estranged from Henry.((Re Henry’s estrangement see letter from J P Hedgeland to Annie Henning, 21 May 1865. Mrs Annie Hedgeland papers ca 1840—1898. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, MAV FM 4/4788.))

His death was reported in local newspapers and, two months later, in the Sydney press, as George was now a resident of that Australian city.((The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 9 May 1873. Sydney Morning Herald, 7 July 1873. Empire, 8 July 1873.))

Despite his falling out with Henry, Hedgeland’s estate was divided equally between his four sons.((Will of 1869; probate 15 May 1873; double probate 3 November 1873. Documents obtained from National Archives.)) George, the stained glass artist before his emigration to Australia, became a farmer and later a surveyor; Frederick was a musician and music teacher; William, a successful organ builder who remained in England. Henry re-trained as a dentist and emigrated to the United States.

Postscript: London to Launceston, Tasmania

His two sons may not be Hedgeland’s only connection to Australia. In September 1866, a stained glass window was re-positioned in the recently renovated and expanded church of St John’s, Launceston in Tasmania. Described as being of ‘common glass’ by ‘Headsland (sic) of London’,((Launceston Examiner, 25 September 1866.)) it depicts the Resurrection and was the gift of Reverend Dr Browne, in memory of the Venerable Archdeacon Hutchins, the first archdeacon to the diocese. ‘Headsland’ almost certainly refers to Hedgeland, so this window must be the work of either John Pike or his son George.((Jenny Gill ‘Our history: window on our sacred past’ The Examiner, 11 February 2018, https://www.examiner.com.au/story/5215406/window-on-a-sacred-past/ Accessed 27 March 2021. This article equates the window re-positioned in 1866 with a window acquired by Dr Browne in 1837 which means it would have to be the product of John Pike Hedgeland. If the 1866 window is different to the 1837 one, then it could be by George Hedgeland.))

Either way, an example of stained glass from the Hedgeland firm sits high up in the church’s eastern wall, unobserved but observing, over 10,000 miles from where it was created but a reminder of a life, or lives, controversial, yet complete; once reviled, now remembered.

References

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