Preview: British Corpus Vitrearum series: The Medieval Stained Glass of Merton College, Oxford, by Tim Ayers

Fig.1. Book cover

Fig.1. Book cover

April 2013 sees the publication of the long-awaited and eagerly anticipated next volume in the British Corpus Vitrearum series: The Medieval Stained Glass of Merton College, Oxford, by Tim Ayers. This is the first full study of the stained glass in an Oxbridge college in modern times, and next month Vidimus readers will have the opportunity to purchase it, for a limited period only, at a reduce price.

For the extent of the remains and the rich documentation in the college archives, the glass at Merton is a monument of national and international importance. The present work sets out the evidence in a fully illustrated catalogue, divided into chapters on the different parts of the building, each with an introduction. For the fifteen well-preserved windows in the eastern arm of the church, it has been possible to identify the glazier and the circumstances for his work in the early fourteenth century. There are also chapters on the transepts of the church, the hall, the Old Library, fellows’ rooms, and the warden’s lodgings. As in many other Oxbridge colleges, post-medieval glass was commissioned or acquired to complement the medieval glazing. Brief catalogue entries are, therefore, provided for this.

The book is also a contribution to the wider study of the art and architecture of the late medieval university. Merton was a model for the graduate college, in both its statutes and its fabric. The general introduction explores the place of the college’s glass within the history of this and other academic institutions, including the representation of the college, its members and benefactors, the choices and development of iconographies within such institutions, and competition between them. In the nineteenth-century university, during the Gothic Revival and reform of the Church of England, the glass at Merton would be a point of reference for leading figures in both Pre-Raphaelitism, and the Arts and Crafts movement.

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