Brian Wilson, A Gentle History of the Stained Glass Windows and Heraldic Shields in the Dining Hall, Pembroke College, Oxford, Oxford, 2012, s/b, 53 pages, colour illus. available from Pembroke College, £10.

Fig. 1. A Gentle History of the Stained Glass Windows and Heraldic Shields in the Dining Room, Pembroke College, Oxford

Fig. 1. A Gentle History of the Stained Glass Windows and Heraldic Shields in the Dining Room, Pembroke College, Oxford

Although Pembroke College lacks the medieval window glass found in other Oxford colleges such as Merton, New College, All Souls and Trinity, it still has much of interest to historians of stained glass. The glazing includes Kempe glass in the college chapel, described by the late Peter Newton as being in an unusual ‘Holbein-Swiss –Renaissance style’, and, as this booklet highlights, an interesting, if incomplete, collection of Victorian heraldic designs in the first-floor windows of the college dining hall.

The hall was built between 1847 and 1848 at the initiative of the then Master, the Revd Dr Francis Jeune (1806–1868, Master 1843–1864), who also had the idea of creating a visual history of the college by recording the names and coats of arms in the windows of ninety masters, fellows, visitors and benefactors of the college, from the time of its fifteenth-century predecessor, Broadgates Hall (a medieval academic hall for legists), until his own term of office. Within fifty years of the windows’ installation however, some of the inscriptions were beginning to fade (perhaps as a result of poor firing), and in the 1950s two windows were removed.

This booklet describes the history of the glass, and gives details of the persons commemorated (with biographies), as well as of later inserts and the fate of the two windows that were removed. (In 2001, they were shipped to the United States, where they now hang in the library of Wesleyan University (IL)). Although primarily intended for a Pembroke audience, this book will have a wider appeal to those interested in Victorian glazing schemes and the hazards to which they have and will continue to be subjected. On a different note, this reader would have found a plan of the dining room and a diagram of the windows extremely helpful.


Nicola Gordon Bowe, Harry Clarke, the Life and Work, The History Press Ireland, 320 pages, 2012, £35.

Fig. 1. Harry Clarke, the Life and Work

Fig. 1. Harry Clarke, the Life and Work

This is a revised and reprinted edition of a book originally published in 1989 about the Irish stained-glass artist and book illustrator, Harry Clarke (1887–1931). Additions include updated information concerning the current whereabouts of the artist’s work. Everything that was said about this book when it first appeared can be repeated again: this is a simply magnificent achievement, beautifully written, immaculately researched, and lavishly illustrated.

Harry Clarke was the son of an English father and an Irish mother. He grew up in Dublin, where he absorbed Arts and Crafts principles and Celtic revivalism. From an early age, his talent shone. After winning national prizes and producing some superb book illustrations, he was given a commission at the age of 26 to make a series of large windows for the Honan Chapel, University College Cork. The windows depict Irish saints and remain outstanding examples of his work – highly stylized and making full use of materials such as flashed glass and demanding techniques such as plating, acid etching, and microscopic painting.

Although Clarke died at a tragically early age, he fortunately completed a number of commissions. Examples of his work may be seen in America and some English churches.

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