“LOST PANELS FOUND”, Evening News, 26 September 1934
Events have come full circle, and this 1934 Evening News headline about fragments of glass from Winchester Cathedral is topical again. A key figure in this remarkable story is John Ward (1885–1949), who was the son and grandson of Anglican clergymen, a collector, and an author with interests in history, freemasonry and spiritualism. Ward founded a religious community called the Confraternity of the Kingdom of Christ. At New Barnet (Hertfordshire) he had several historic buildings re-erected, as well as having replicas of ancient buildings constructed; these he filled with antiquities he had collected. A reconstructed medieval tithe barn served as a church for the community from 1930, and the ‘Abbey Folk Park’ became a tourist attraction. Ward subsequently became a bishop of the ‘Orthodox Catholic Church’ in England. Anya Heilpern, who is currently researching the glass at the cathedral for her doctoral thesis, takes up the story.
During a visit to the Abbey Museum (Queensland, Australia) in August 2013, with the help of Michael Strong (emeritus director and senior curator at the museum), I was able to identify many fragments of Winchester Cathedral’s medieval painted glass. Some of the glass was in panels previously thought to be lost, but which were in fact in store, though with a number of important pieces missing. Other glass had been rearranged, and the original Winchester connection had been lost, or was confused and doubtful. There were also a few well-preserved 14th-century pieces, which had not previously been associated with the cathedral.
The Abbey Museum Collection
In 1934–35, newspapers reported how a Fr John Ward, founder of the Confraternity of the Kingdom of Christ, had acquired twenty-six panels of late medieval glass from Winchester Cathedral for his new social history museum, the Abbey Folk Park, at New Barnet (Hertfordshire). This was in the grounds of the abbey Ward had just established for his community, and featured a number of reconstructed prehistoric and historical buildings, including a late medieval tithe barn that served as the abbey’s church. There was also a smaller chapel, known as the Oratory of the Angels, where the Winchester glass was displayed.
Ward’s acquisition of four panels from Winchester Cathedral (including a puzzling ‘demon beast’) was reported in September 1934. The acquisition of twelve more panels, including a dove and seraphim, was reported in January 1935. Ward had apparently acquired these from an old man who had worked on C. E. Kempe’s 1898 reglazing of the cathedral’s Lady Chapel. According to Ward, the old man had wanted the fragments so that he could study medieval glass painting, and had glazed them into panels, but was now happy to part with them. Part of a photograph of Ward with some of the glass installed in the Oratory of the Angels was published in The Times on 25 January 1935; the full photograph is at Fig. 1. The acquisition of a further ten smaller panels ‘of the same glass’, including some notable faces, was recorded that August (Figs 2 and 3).
The Folk Park was very popular with the public for some years, but Fr Ward’s fortunes declined dramatically from 1945, after a sensational court case involving a young girl who had joined his community against her parents’ wishes. The community left Hertfordshire in 1946, taking part of the collection with them (the rest having been sold), initially to Cyprus, where Ward died in 1949. In 1955, the community emigrated to Australia, and in 1965 they purchased land outside the town of Caboolture, in Queensland. The new Abbey Church was built there and consecrated in 1967; it displayed some of the stained glass from Ward’s collection. The small community continues there to this day in the Christian tradition. Michael Strong, a member of the community, was appointed director and raised funds to build the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology in the community’s grounds. This opened in 1986, and houses most of the items remaining in Ward’s collection, which ranges from prehistoric artefacts to illuminated manuscripts and Old Masters. The museum is now mainly run by Edith Cuffe, the current director, also originally from the community, and a team of volunteers. Cataloguing and researching the impressive and valuable collection is a slow process because of lack of funds.
Rediscovery of the Angels and the ‘Demon Beast’
Between 2002 and 2003, Mary Callé, a friend and guide at Winchester Cathedral, and Dr Geoff Down of the University of Melbourne, engaged to catalogue the remaining glass in the collection, recognized the Winchester origin of the most stunning fragments (Figs 4 and 5). Mary wrote a number of articles drawing attention to this glass, particularly the fragments from the Lady Chapel, where documentary evidence predating the Civil War described a Jesse Tree, a Nativity, and a Revelation window. Geoff and Mary believed however that four of the panels shown in the photograph published in The Times in 1935 had disappeared; these included a dove and a seraph head (Fig. 1, panels on the upper right). It was thought that these panels had been sold before Ward left England.
Completing the Jigsaw Puzzle
I have spent the last few years researching Winchester Cathedral’s late medieval glass. I was fortunate in 2010 to find a 19th-century photograph in the cathedral’s records which showed almost the whole of the east window of the Lady Chapel containing fragments of medieval glass taken before Kempe installed the new glass in 1898 [Fig. 6]. It was clear from the photograph that there were also fragments in the north and south windows, although these were shown at an angle and impossible to identify. The image supplemented a Victorian photograph that Mary had found previously showing the lower half of the same window. Although neither of the photographs is of a sufficiently high resolution to be clear, and much of the glass has been rearranged, the photograph found in 2010 does allow some of the fragments, located at the top of the main lights, to be identified with certainty at Caboolture.
Looking at Fig. 7 (the heads of lights 3–6 above the transom), the head of light 3 shows the two female heads now displayed in the Abbey Church (see the foot of Fig. 4), and the head of light 6 shows the female head now displayed (reversed) in the Abbey Church (see the foot of Fig. 5). This identification is supported by a photograph of the same head in the Oratory of the Angels in the 1930s [Fig. 8]. This head is generally identified as that of an angel, but may in fact be the type for the Virgin. Fig. 8 shows the head against a pillar or some kind of architectural support, and, with its downcast eyes and gentle expression, it could be from a Nativity scene. The identifications of glass from heads of the main lights below the transom shown in Figs 9 and 10 are less certain but also convincing. The star in light 2 is similar to, but may not be the same as, the star now above the lion beast in Fig. 5. Finally, the head in the head of light 7 could well be the head of the ‘angel Gabriel’ seen in Fig. 4, but set at an angle, the head bent down but with the original garment, an alb with neck tie. For me, the 19th-century photograph including the heads of the main lights above the transom removed any residual doubt there may have been about the Winchester origin of the Caboolture glass. The photograph is also helpful in showing the medieval fragments in the tracery of the window before they were reordered and supplemented by Kempe.
I was finally able to visit the Abbey Museum in August 2013. Michael Strong and Edith Cuffe greeted me warmly: Edith produced an irresistible chocolate peppermint cake and Michael produced boxes of unidentified fragments of glass. Geoff Down had previously suggested in his catalogue that these came from the Lady Chapel, but he had not identified them with any certainty.
It was immediately apparent that we were looking at the very seraph head that Mary had noted in the 1935 photograph showing the ‘lost’ four panels [Fig. 1, panel on the top right, and Fig. 11]. This is crudely drawn and could be an early 19th-century copy of one of the 15th-century seraphim still in the presbytery clerestory of Winchester Cathedral (some of which are very fine work in the International Gothic style). An almost identical face survives in window NIV of the north presbytery clerestory [Fig. 12]. We were able to examine the rest of the fragments in storage on a light box, and Michael photographed them. Much of the glass, including the dove, has now been removed from the leadwork and is lost, but a few further fragments of interest survive in the panels. The wounded hand of Christ from a crucifixion, recognisable in Fig. 1 above the dove, has survived [Fig. 13]. In the same panel, there are pieces of imitation architecture, in a style similar to that still in the tracery of the east window of the Lady Chapel. Another panel [Fig. 14] contains a fragment of a ‘criss-cross’ column, reminiscent of those in Winchester Cathedral’s east gable window. These fragments, while much less exciting than those already identified by Mary and Geoff, provided the first step in solving the mystery of what had happened to the remainder of the original twenty-six panels acquired by Fr Ward.
I spent the next few days in the museum, reading the archive of newspaper cuttings and Fr Ward’s catalogues. With Michael I examined all the glass now displayed in the Abbey Church, and Michael took comprehensive photographs. We observed details that had not previously been noticed; for example, Michael pointed out part of the head of an ass, probably from the Nativity in the south window of the Lady Chapel [Figs 5 and 15]. Although I already knew from photographs that the glass previously identified by Mary and Geoff was exquisite, I was nonetheless taken aback when I saw it. The demure sweetness of the faces, finely hatched and scratched (reminiscent of Martin Schongauer’s engravings) was brought to life in a mystical world by brilliant blues and yellows [Figs 4, 5, 16 and 17]. Light and shade evoked texture, in the rich velvety red and green buds of the Jesse fruit, and the large star, hard like a multifaceted cut diamond [Figs 18 and 19].
It became clear that additional fragments from Winchester Cathedral were distributed throughout the panels in the Abbey Church, including those in the porch. Some of these fragments had been removed from the panels now in store. In Michael’s words, these panels had been ‘cannibalized’, partly to supplement the panels displayed in the church. Most significantly, we recognized that most of the glass now in the mullion window at the west end of the Abbey Church is the final instalment of glass that Ward said originated from Winchester Cathedral [Fig. 3].
The original newspaper reports counted a total of twenty-six panels from Winchester Cathedral. Ward’s 1946 packing list also noted twenty-six panels (or groups of unleaded fragments) of ecclesiastical glass from Winchester. Some of these are clearly identifiable from their descriptions, but some of the references are too vague to be very helpful. It is confusing that Ward’s c.1945 catalogue only mentions seventeen panels (including the nine seen in Fig. 3) and four heads of lights. Some of these numerical discrepancies may be explained by differences in how the panels were counted: perhaps the heads of lights were sometimes counted as part of the main panel and sometimes counted separately, or there were possibly careless approximations. From reading the contemporary descriptions and looking at the related photographs and the surviving glass however, it is now clear that we have photographs from Ward’s time of all the glass he thought came from Winchester Cathedral – twenty-six panels, including heads of lights. As noted above, Fig. 2 shows not just the final ten panels found (now mostly in the mullion window) but also six of the original sixteen panels, on the right-hand side. Read together with Fig. 2, which shows Ward standing in front of the main Winchester panels and effectively overlaps with Fig. 1, we can see all the glass Ward attributed to Winchester displayed in the Oratory of the Angels, even though some of it is unfortunately at an angle and so difficult to interpret.
The Best Finds
Among the most interesting fragments surviving in the mullion window is the cold aggressive head of the scourger [Fig. 20]. Mary Callé had previously identified this, and supported Ward’s attribution to Winchester. The photographs at Figs 2 and 3, considered together with the newspaper accounts and Ward’s catalogue descriptions, prove beyond doubt that this was among the glass reported to have come from Winchester Cathedral. This conclusion is of considerable significance in reconstructing the early 16th-century glazing scheme at the east end of the cathedral, as it suggests a Passion series. From the research I have done so far, I suspect that Christ’s Passion was depicted in the south presbytery aisle, near Bishop Fox’s chantry chapel. Fox was devoted to the Passion, and Passion emblems adorn his chantry chapel and the roof of the presbytery above. Fox’s surviving glass at the east end of the cathedral is now generally dated before 1515, partly because of the absence of Renaissance motifs. However, the style of the scourger has affinities with work by the Anglo-Flemish glaziers at King’s College Cambridge, some of it dated between 1515 and 1517, but most of it later than 1526 [Figs 21 and 22].
The central panel of light a in Fig. 3 shows two fine heads that are now missing. One is tonsured; the other, at the bottom of the panel, is another early 16th-century head, which Ward’s catalogue notes as part of the Winchester Cathedral glass. Although most of this head is now missing, a fragment of the actual glass remains in store [Fig. 23]. It is not known whether this head was damaged by accident, or whether a clumsy attempt was made to remove it from its panel. Fortunately, Ward’s catalogue includes a high-quality photo, describing this as ‘the head of a citizen’ [Fig. 24]. Its quality can be compared with that of the early 16th-century head still in the east gable window of Winchester Cathedral at Fig. 25. Both show real faces, with fleshy folds, although the head of the citizen, with its direct gaze, is colder and more severe than that in the east window of the cathedral. The ‘citizen’ uses some cross-hatched scratching, which creates a harder effect than stipple alone. Ward’s identification as ‘a citizen’ is not convincing. Comparing the outline of the headdress with that of the prophet in Fig. 25 or St Swithun in Fig. 26 (also in the east gable window of Winchester Cathedral) suggests that ‘the citizen’ could equally have been a prophet or ecclesiastic.
Another beautiful piece in the mullion window of the Abbey Church, which may fit with the early 16th-century scheme in the east end of Winchester Cathedral, is the flashed-ruby dragon [Fig. 27]. This was an emblem of Henry VII, linking him to Cadwallader, the ancient king of the Britons. A similarly shaped red dragon supports the arms of Henry VII on a boss decorating the presbytery vault installed under Bishop Fox. Other early 16th-century fragments in the Abbey Church suggest detailed naturalistic backgrounds. They include a blue grisaille tower, a fragment of a background possibly showing a picket fence in a night-time scene, and blue and green glass made by using yellow stain on blue glass [Figs 28–30].
Other faces recorded as coming from Winchester Cathedral may be representative of earlier glazing schemes in the cathedral. Fig. 31 shows high-quality early 15th-century glass (the monk) as well as an early 16th-century prince. The window in Fig. 32 (which largely derives from the third instalment of glass in Fig. 3) contains interesting mid-15th-century glass, including flashed ruby decorated with a white scratched pattern. The strange animal-like head could be a scourger, and the small lamb’s head and pillar with ropes around it also suggest a series showing the life of Christ. Scattered throughout the Abbey Church there are a few scraps of grisaille, which could be from the 13th-century retrochoir of the cathedral.
Finally, there are two heads in the Abbey Church, not identified by Ward as coming from Winchester Cathedral, but which are likely to have been part of Wykeham’s c.1380 glazing at the west end of the cathedral. The bearded head at Fig. 33 is very similar to a number of heads that survive in the patchwork of fragments in the colossal west window [Fig. 34]. The unbearded head in Fig. 33 is probably from the same scheme, although no similar heads remain in the west window of the cathedral. It could be a female head, or a young male head, perhaps of St John the Evangelist. J. D. Le Couteur thought that the original west window included a series of Apostles and Prophets with creed scrolls and a life of Christ. It may also have included a series of kings.
The glass Ward acquired from Winchester Cathedral included pieces that originated from all over the building. The Victorian photos of the Lady Chapel are not clear enough or comprehensive enough to prove whether all Ward’s glass was in the Lady Chapel at that time; it is hoped that further early photographs will be found. It would not be surprising if all this assorted glass was found in the Lady Chapel – the devastation to the cathedral’s medieval glass caused during the Civil War was so extensive that most of the glass that was saved was reassembled fairly randomly in jumbled panels, as in the great west window.
The main exception is the 15th- and early 16th-century presbytery clerestory glass, which was generally out of reach, and, mercifully, some early 16th-century tracery glass in the presbytery aisles, which survives relatively intact showing the Joys of Mary [Fig. 35]. The presbytery aisles led to the Lady Chapel, and the Joys of Mary must have been part of the same iconographic scheme as the Lady Chapel glass, although perhaps installed slightly later. The issue of whether all this early 16th-century glass in the east end of the cathedral was the work of the Anglo-Netherlandish Southwark glaziers is unresolved. The mystery for me remains the exquisite and consistent quality of the original Lady Chapel fragments in Caboolture, shown in Figs 4 and 5, given the variations in style and quality of glass attributed to these glaziers elsewhere.
Thanks to Michael Strong for working with me to piece together the information and to both Michael and Edith for their hospitality. Thanks also to Mary Callé and my PhD supervisor Sarah Brown for their ever-generous support.
1. The identifications prior to my visit were reflected in Geoff Down’s draft Catalogue of Stained Glass at the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, Caboolture, Queensland (unpublished) and in Mary Callé’s ‘Winchester Cathedral Medieval Glass in Australia’, The Journal of Stained Glass, xxvi, 2002, pp. 68–74; ‘More light on the Great West Window (Fragments of the Lady Chapel Medieval Glass Revealed?)’, Winchester Cathedral Record, lxxii, 2003, pp. 26–29; ‘Discovering Winchester Cathedral Medieval Glass’, Winchester Cathedral Record, lxxiii, 2004, pp. 13–16.
2. Fr Ward was a collector of antiquities and a spiritualist. Ward’s faith combined ideas about reincarnation and karmic justice with Christian theology, predicting the end of Western civilization and the return of Christ the King. His passion for collecting antiquities fitted with his mission to preserve evidence of the civilization that he thought would soon collapse, for the benefit of those who survived. Ward was ordained in 1935 by Archbishop Sibley of the Orthodox Catholic Church in England, an irregular bishop without an established see or ordinary diocesan responsibilities. Ward succeeded Sibley as archbishop in 1938. See Geoffrey Ginn, Archangels & Archaeology: J. S. M. Ward’s Kingdom of the Wise, Toronto, 2012.
3. Evening News, 26 September 1934; Daily Mail, 26 September 1934; Hampshire Observer, 6 October 1934. Extracts may be found in The Book of the Centuries, 2 vols, I (unpublished, at the Abbey Museum).
4. Daily Mail, 17 January 1935.
5. Daily Telegraph, 19 January 1935
6. The Times, 10 August 1935.
7. Ginn, Archangels & Archaeology.
8. Ward’s collection constitutes about two thirds of the museum’s contents. The museum also holds a growing number of new donations and purchases.
9. See n. 1.
11. Callé, ‘Winchester Cathedral Medieval Glass in Australia’, pp. 72–73. Down, Catalogue, p. 17.
12. A Mirror of the Passing World (Ward’s catalogue, c.1945, unpublished, in the archive of The Abbey Museum).
13. Down, Catalogue, p. 16.
14. It is likely that the panels were separated when the windows were installed in the Abbey Church in 1964 and in 1978.
15. J. S. M. Ward’s Packing List – Barnet to Cyprus, 1946 (unpublished, The Abbey Museum).
16. Mirror of the Passing World, p. 223.
17. R. Marks, Stained Glass in England During the Middle Ages, London, 1993, p. 213.
18. Callé, ‘Winchester Cathedral Medieval glass in Australia’, p. 72; H. Wayment, Kings College Chapel Cambridge: The Great Windows: Introduction and Guide, Cambridge, 1982.
19. A. Smith, Roof Bosses of Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, 1996, p. 20.
20. I have not been able however to identify the pillar in Ward’s photographs.
21. J. D. Le Couteur, The Hampshire Observer, 3 September 1921.