Completion of Conservation at Lichfield Cathedral

Alison Gilchrist reports

Fig. 1. Lichfield Cathedral Lady Chapel. © IRPA

Fig. 1. Lichfield Cathedral Lady Chapel. © IRPA

The team at Barley Studio has completed its four-year project to conserve the sixteenth-century stained glass of Lichfield Cathedral’s Lady Chapel, part of a larger £3.7 million restoration project [Fig. 1]. Seven of the windows were originally made for the Abbey of Herkenrode, near Liège in present-day Belgium, in the 1530s and were brought to Lichfield through the agency of Sir Brooke Boothby of Ashbourne in the first decade of the nineteenth century. In his Memoirs Illustrative of the Art of Glass-Painting (London, 1865), the nineteenth-century barrister and antiquarian Charles Winston described the Herkenrode glazing as ‘perhaps the finest specimens of pictorial glass-painting in the world’ (p. 251). Two further windows, thought to originate from Antwerp, were restored and installed to complete the Lady Chapel glazing by Charles Eamer Kempe in 1895.

Concerns about the condition of the stonework of the Lady Chapel had been raised as early as 1983, when Martin Stancliffe took over as Cathedral Architect. Surveys of the glazing highlighted loss of paintwork and corrosion of the painted surface, and in 1997, English Heritage undertook a monitoring study of the environment of the Lady Chapel windows. In 2002, Martin Stancliffe commissioned Keith Barley to survey the windows and undertake a preliminary study of their condition. Robert Kilgour took over as Cathedral Architect in 2003, and work continued with trial installations of protective glazing by Barley Studio and a sensor study of its effectiveness by the Fraunhofer Institut (Warzburg). Finally, as the long-needed repairs to the stonework became urgent, requiring the glazing to be removed for safety, the conservation work and re-installation of the windows with internally ventilated external protective glazing was agreed. Specifications and tender documents were produced in 2009, and Barley Studio began the conservation work in 2010.

Fig. 2. Scene from window sIV with its authenticity diagram; white areas indicate original glass in its original position. © Barley Studio and IRPA

Fig. 2. Scene from window sIV with its authenticity diagram; white areas indicate original glass in its original position. © Barley Studio and IRPA

During the project, we have been privileged to collaborate with stained-glass historians from the Belgian CVMA, Yvette Vanden Bemden and Isabelle Lecocq, who have regularly visited Barley Studio to study the Herkenrode windows as they were being conserved. It has been a pleasure to discuss these beautiful windows with such eminent scholars; Yvette has already published extensively on the Herkenrode glass (‘The 16th-century Stained Glass from the Former Abbey of Herkenrode in Lichfield Cathedral’, Journal of Stained Glass, XXXII (2008), 49–90) and a joint publication by the English and Belgian CVMAs is planned. As we examined each scene, we were newly astonished at the remarkable completeness of the original artwork, the result of its long history of minimal and sympathetic restoration. One element of this previous restoration was the re-use of original Herkenrode glass, carefully selected to fill areas of damage in a most unobtrusive manner. Indeed, we believe that the Herkenrode windows in Lichfield comprise more original sixteenth-century glass than survives in present-day Belgium [Fig. 2].

Barley Studio’s conservation approach has continued this tradition of minimal intervention, whilst also introducing some innovative conservation techniques with the aim of enhancing the visual appearance of the glass. As previously reported (see Vidimus 63), re-leading of the panels was not considered to be necessary, as the 1890s leadwork of Burlison & Grylls (London) and Wingfield (Birmingham) is in good condition and is reasonably sympathetic to the glass. However, many later ‘strap’ leads (probably added after the windows had been removed for safety during the Second World War) have been removed, and visually disturbing mending leads have been reduced by removing the surface leaf of the lead calme. Fractured pieces were edge bonded where necessary using conservation-grade silicone and epoxy adhesives. The glass surfaces were carefully cleaned using only deionised water on cotton wool swabs; a gentle treatment that very effectively removed the black sooty deposits covering the internal surface, considerably brightening the overall appearance [Fig. 3].

Fig. 3. Detail of window sIII: Christ in Majesty, before and after conservation. © Barley Studio

Fig. 3. Detail of window sIII: Christ in Majesty, before and after conservation. © Barley Studio

Fig. 4. Detail of window nIII: angel.

Fig. 4. Detail of window nIII: angel.

Fig. 5. Detail of window nIV: St Anne, Virgin and Child. © Barley Studio

Fig. 5. Detail of window nIV: St Anne, Virgin and Child. © Barley Studio



Although the glass is physically very complete, the environment has taken its toll on the imagery, as the painted detail has suffered through corrosion of the glass and paint of the internal surface. Where the paint survives, it shows the remarkable skill of the Renaissance glass-painters, with layers of delicate shading combining different colours of glass paint [Figs 4–5].

Fig. 6. Detail of window nIV: St Margaret. © Barley Studio

Fig. 6. Detail of window nIV: St Margaret. © Barley Studio

However, in some scenes the fading is so severe that faces, in particular, have been left almost completely blank, with the slightest of ghosting showing where the painted lines once were. We have undertaken some restoration of this lost painted detail in key areas of the imagery by painting on the reverse of the glass using a cold (unfired) paint mixed from traditional glass pigment and gold size [Fig. 6]. This paint is reasonably robust to water and scratching once dry, but will remain easily removable in the future, wiping off with an organic solvent such as ethanol.

Conservator Alison Gilchrist commented: ‘One of the challenges of this project was its sheer scale, both in terms of the overall windows (each around 11m tall including the tracery, totalling over 600 individual panels) and of the imagery. Each complete scene is spread over twelve or fifteen panels, so it was important to get an overview of the artwork rather than working separately on individual panels. The large light tables and viewing gallery in our new studio have come in very handy indeed! [Fig. 7]

‘Along the way we have enjoyed finding the marks left by our predecessors, who were clearly proud of their work on these windows [Fig. 8]. We have resisted the temptation to add our names to the glass, though of course all of our work is fully documented through restoration diagrams and photographs.’

Fig. 8. Previous glaziers’ inscriptions. © Barley Studio

Fig. 8. Previous glaziers’ inscriptions. © Barley Studio

Fig. 7. Visit from the Lichfield Cathedral photographers. © Richard Ell

Fig. 7. Visit from the Lichfield Cathedral photographers. © Richard Ell

Director Keith Barley added ‘Having acted as consultant to Lichfield Cathedral almost thirteen years ago, and carried out the initial trials of protective-glazing installations, I was delighted to win the contract to carry out this major conservation project. We have been able to develop innovative techniques to preserve and enhance this internationally significant glass, whilst making minimal intervention to its structure. Conserving the Herkenrode glass has been a long and rewarding project, and a very important part of my career in stained glass conservation.’

The windows have now been re-installed, protected by their new external protective glazing (which was installed when the windows were removed back in 2010). The cathedral will celebrate the return of this world-famous glazing with a service of thanksgiving and dedication on 10 March 2015.

University of York Spring Master-class: New Voices in Stained-Glass Conservation

The University of York MA in Stained-Glass Conservation and Heritage Management Spring Master-class will be held this year on Saturday 28 February 2015 and is entitled ‘New Voices in Stained Glass Conservation’.

Fig. 1. Ulmer Munster, photo by Sarah Jarron © GLR Rothkegel.

Fig. 1. Ulmer Munster, photo by Sarah Jarron © GLR Rothkegel.

Over the past ten years, the face of stained-glass conservation has been changed through training opportunities at all levels. Practice-based internships funded through the Institute of Conservation (ICON), NADFAS, the Worshipful Company of Glaziers, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and the University of York’s own MA course have supported a new generation of stained-glass conservators. These young practitioners are now making their mark in studios throughout Europe. Our speakers, all of whom have experience of one or more of these routes into a career in conservation, will speak about their own career and the projects with which they are now involved.

•    Monika Adamczak, University of York
‘Glacier Transparencies: Research and Conservation Options’
•    Dr Alison Gilchrist, Barley Studio
‘Becoming a conservator: from MA towards ACR’
•    Sarah Jarron, Independent Conservator
‘The Conservation of Four Monumental Choir Windows in Ulm Münster: Production, Adaptation and Application of the Conservation Concept’
•    Anna Santolaria Tura, Can Pinyonaire Stained Glass Conservation, Girona Catalonia
‘The Girona Cathedral Glaziers’ Table’
•    Laura Tempest, The University of York and York Glaziers Trust
‘The Place of Research and Digital Documentation in a Major HLF Project’

The master-class will be held at the King’s Manor, York.  Places for this day-long event can be booked through Brittany Scowcroft ( £40 (including lunch, tea, coffee), £30 (concessions).

Events at the Stained Glass Museum and Student Bursary

London Science and Stained-Glass Tour with Caroline Swash
Wednesday 25 February 2015, 11am – 4pm

issue_87_2015_news09A visit to see modern stained-glass windows inspired by science at the Royal College Medical Library, Whitechapel (Johannes Schreiter), and the Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House (Lawrence Lee) [Fig. 1].

The trip will be led by Caroline Swash, stained-glass artist and author of Stained and Art Glass (with Judith Neiswander, 2005); Medical Science and Stained Glass (2002); and 14 Stained Glass Walks in London (2001). Notes will be provided in advance of the visit.

The cost of the tour is £20 per person (not including travel or lunch), and places are limited to ten. Booking is on a first come first served basis. NB Friends of the Museum will receive priority.

Book tickets online at the Stained Glass Museum’s website.

The Stained Glass Museum 2015 Study Weekend
Coventry and Warwickshire
Thursday 23 – Sunday 26 April 2015

The Stained Glass Museum’s 2015 annual study weekend will take place in Warwickshire and will be based in Coventry. The programme includes three days of guided visits to see medieval glass at the Beauchamp Chapel in the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick; Merevale; and Coventry guildhall; Victorian stained glass at Rugby College Chapel, ‘Shakespeare’s Church’ in Stratford-upon-Avon, and Lord Leycester’s Hospital, Warwick. There will also be a study day at Coventry Cathedral [Fig. 2], focusing on the extraordinary modern stained-glass windows by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens, Geoffrey Clarke, Keith New, Lawrence Lee and Margaret Traherne, and the recently catalogued medieval fragments of stained glass from the old cathedral building.

Fig.2. Detail of Golden Window by Lawrence Lee (1909-2011), Coventry Cathedral nave

Fig. 2. Detail of Golden Window by Lawrence Lee (1909-2011), Coventry Cathedral nave.

Residential cost (per delegate): single occupancy £400 (including three nights bed and breakfast with evening meals); double/twin occupancy £375 (including three nights bed and breakfast with evening meals).
Non-residential cost (per delegate): visits and evening meals £200; visits only £100.

All prices include travel to sites, guide-receiving headset, and a conference pack with site notes. For more information, download a booking form and visit the website.

Student Bursary Available

The Stained Glass Museum Trust believes strongly that stained glass forms an important part of our cultural and artistic heritage, and is committed to raising the profile of the medium as a historic and contemporary art form. The museum and its Friends organization wish to encourage students with a particular interest in stained glass to take part in its events, in order to extend students’ knowledge and experience and strengthen their links with the museum.

In 2015, the fifteenth year of the Stained Glass Museum’s study weekend, students registered in full- or part-time higher education are invited to apply for a bursary to cover all or most of the cost of a place on the study weekend in Coventry and Warwick. This bursary has been made available thanks to the generosity of individual Friends of the Stained Glass Museum.

The bursary is intended to cover a substantial proportion of the costs of attending the study weekend, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner, but the successful applicant may need to fund his/her travel to and from Coventry; lunches are not provided. If awarded a grant, the applicant would be expected to provide an article for the museum’s bi-annual Friends Newsletter describing the trip.

The application is aimed at those whose studies are related in some way to stained-glass art, its history or conservation. Applicants will need to make sure that the study weekend does not conflict with other academic commitments and, if necessary, gain permission to attend from their tutor/supervisor.

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 February 2015.

For more information on eligibility and how to apply, visit the museum’s website.

BSMGP Spring Lecture

The BSMGP spring lecture will be given by Léonie Seliger ACR and is entitled ‘Into the 21st Century: Canterbury Cathedral’s Post-Victorian Stained Glass’. Canterbury is not renowned for its later glass, and a large part of the building’s nineteenth-century stained glass was lost in the Baedeker raids of the Second World War. Nevertheless, in the twentieth century works by Hugh Easton, Ninian Comper, Harry Stammers, Ervin Bossanyi and others have found their places amongst the ancient glass, and works by lesser-known artists are now joining the choir of voices in colour and light.

Léonie Seliger will talk on the history of the twentieth- and twenty-first-century glazing, and look at how attitudes to new windows have changed.

The lecture will take place on Friday 6 March, 6.15pm for 6.45pm.

Cost (postal bookings), lecture only: members £10, non-members £15, student members £8, student non-members £12.50.
Supper: + £12 for categories.
For further details/booking, contact Sue Shaughnessy (07909 070739) or email the society (
To pay online, visit the society’s website.

Glass-painting Classes at the Architectural Glass Centre, Swansea

Fig. 1. Glass painting equipment

Fig. 1. Glass-painting equipment.

The Architectural Glass Centre, the commercial arm of the Swansea School of Architectural Glass, is continuing its programme of glass-painting workshops/masterclasses with Jonathan Cooke in 2015. The workshop is suitable both for beginners and those with previous experience of glass-painting. Jonathan will demonstrate glass-painting using a technique whereby a number of layers of paint can be built up prior to firing. He will also discuss materials, tools, and firing schedules. During the workshop, there will be ample time for participants to practice the technique and to produce samples.

The dates of the proposed workshops are as follows.

Spring workshops

Glass-painting 10–13 April
Silver stain and enamel 14–16 April

Autumn workshops

Glass-painting 11–14 September
Silver stain and enamel 15–17 September

The glass-painting workshops are run over three and a half days, the silver stain and enamel over two and a half days. Further details on all courses are available from Amanda Hughes (01792 481199 or or Alun Adams (01792 481084 or

The Lacock Cup

We reported in Vidimus 76 that the British Museum had acquired the Lacock Cup, a breathtakingly rare masterwork by an unknown silversmith.

Fig. 1. Scene from panel 3d of the East Window at the church of St Peter and St Paul, East Harling, Norfolk, CVMA Picture Archive.

Fig. 1. Scene from panel 3d of the East Window at the church of St Peter and St Paul, East Harling, Norfolk, CVMA Picture Archive.

Fig. 2. The Lacock Cup.

Fig. 2. The Lacock Cup.

The cup, which is simple in design and similar to one depicted in the east window of the Church of St Peter and St Paul in East Harling (Norfolk), in a scene showing the wedding at Cana [Fig. 1], was made in the fifteenth century and has been used throughout history as both a feasting cup and a holy chalice. As most medieval cups of this type were destroyed, the Lacock Cup is a rarity, having survived both the Reformation and the English Civil War.

This year, the cup [Fig.2] will be exhibited on a ‘Spotlight Tour’, and Salisbury Museum will be the first of five venues to host it. The exhibition at Salisbury Museum is entitled ‘Secular to Sacred: The Story of the Lacock Cup’ and aims to explore the rich context surrounding the Lacock Cup, in particular its secular and sacred associations, and the historic shifts it encountered. The cup will be shown alongside objects from Salisbury Museum’s own collection and important comparison pieces loaned exclusively for this show.

The exhibition opens on 31 January and runs until Monday 4 May 2015. For more information, visit the Salisbury Museum website.

Northumberland Bestiary Now Available On Line

The Northumberland Bestiary, a book of drawings and texts of real and imaginary animals, can now be seen in digital form. The thirteenth-century book is among 10,000 works of art made available in high-resolution images without fees and restrictions by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles as part of an open-access policy.

The seventy-five-page manuscript, which was created in London around the 1250s or 1260s, contains 112 coloured ink drawings ranging from goats to the hydra. The first few images are taken from the Bible, including one showing Adam naming some of the birds and animals. Originally owned by the Duke of Northumberland (and formerly Alnwick Castle MS 447), the volume was sold in 1990 to a private collector and bought by the Getty in 2007.

The bestiary can be seen by searching for Northumberland Bestiary on the Getty Museum’s website, and a short video montage of selected pages can be viewed here.

Robin Lunn

Robin Lunn

Robin Lunn

We are sad to report the death of stained-glass historian and lecturer, Robin Lunn, who passed away earlier this month aged 78, after suffering Motor Neurone Disease with valour and dignity.

A much respected headmaster and educator in the south-west, Robin focussed his energies on the stained glass of Gloucester Cathedral after taking early retirement in 1989. He was a key figure in compiling an inventory of the Cathedral’s stained glass and frequently led guided tours and study days at the church. He contributed articles to Vidimus about the cathedral glass (see Vidimus 4), and wrote the chapter about stained glass in Gloucester Cathedral Faith, Art and Architecture: 1000 years, published by Scala Books in 2011. He was always enthusiastic company.

In 2014, Robin was admitted to the Company of St Kyneburga (named after the co-foundress and abbess in the eighth century of the first religious community at what is now Gloucester Cathedral) by the bishop of Gloucester in recognition of his chairmanship of the cathedral’s fabric committee and outstanding services to the cathedral chapter.

Our sympathies are extended to his family and all who loved him. He will be missed.