Fifteenth-Century Order of the Angel Panels Acquired by the Stained Glass Museum

In November 2015, the Stained Glass Museum purchased two rare medieval stained-glass panels depicting the Virtues and Principalities from a sale at Bonhams in London [Figs 1–2]. These late fifteenth-century panels were purchased with the help of the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and the Art Fund, and form a significant addition to the museum’s collection of medieval stained glass. On stylistic grounds, the panels appear to be of English origin, although their exact provenance is unknown.

Fig. 1. The Virtues, late 15th century stained glass panels (English), 154mm x 178mm. © The Stained Glass Museum (ELYGM:2015.7.1)

Fig. 1.
The Virtues, late 15th century stained glass panels (English), 154mm x 178mm. © The Stained Glass Museum (ELYGM:2015.7.1)

Fig. 2. The Principalities, late 15th century stained glass panels (English), 154mm x 178mm. © The Stained Glass Museum (ELYGM:2015.7.2)

Fig. 2. The Principalities, late 15th century stained glass panels (English), 154mm x 178mm. © The Stained Glass Museum (ELYGM:2015.7.2)

The panels came from a window in Ulverscroft Manor, a large house in Markfield (Leicestershire) built for Thomas Pares, who was living in the manor by 1836. It is not known when the glass was installed, or where it came from. The estate remained in the Pares family until 1944, after which it passed to various owners before being purchased by David Clarke in 1990. The property is now owned by the Shuttlewood Clarke Foundation, a charity that offers support to the elderly and adults of all ages with disabilities in the Leicestershire area.


Now in the collection of the Stained Glass Museum, the angel panels have been placed on permanent display within the medieval section of the museum’s main gallery, where they can be seen alongside a number of small-scale English silver-stain roundels and unipartite panels from the fifteenth century. Visitors are able to view the panels at unusually close quarters, so that the detail can be appreciated and enjoyed.


The panels were probably originally part of a set depicting the nine orders of angels, a popular subject in medieval art and literature. Around the beginning of the sixth century, the theologian Pseudo-Dionysius wrote a treatise entitled De Coelesti Hierarchia (‘Concerning the Celestial Hierarchy’), which compiled a list of different types of angels. He identified nine orders in total, divided into three hierarchies with different functions, and his account was largely accepted by Jacobus de Voragine, author of the Legenda Aurea (‘The Golden Legend’) written c.1260 (see Vidimus 35). These written accounts inspired many visual depictions of the orders of the angels in a variety of media, including stained glass.

Of the two panels acquired by the Stained Glass Museum, the first depicts Virtues, a group of angels from the second most important hierarchy of angels (the hyperphania), who were often associated with miracles. The second panel depicts Principalities, a group of angels from the lowest hierarchical group of angels (the hypophania), who it was believed looked after the provinces of mankind. Both panels depict a group of three standing angels dressed in white robes with two golden wings, golden hair, and white haloes. Each group is identified by a Latin inscription below the figures that describes the characteristic of the order. The three Virtues are identified by the inscription ‘virtus uranica’ (‘heavenly virtue’) and wear diadems and dalmatic clerical robes and albs with apparels. In this rare depiction, all the figures are shown holding open books representing the knowledge of God, a sceptre, and, curiously, what appear to be urine flasks. One of the three Virtues holds up his flask to inspect it. The Principalities, identified by the inscription ‘principans turma’ (‘ruling troop’), are shown bearing branches of lilies, in accordance with Greek tradition (see Jameson 1850), instead of the more typical sword or sceptre. They wear crowns, and long-ermine trimmed robes, representing their role in looking after the lands of kings, princes and bishops (see Morgan 2004).

Fig. 3. Harpley (Norfolk), St Lawrence’s Church: angel with flask.

Fig. 3. Harpley (Norfolk), St Lawrence’s Church: angel with flask.

The presence of the urine flask is highly unusual, although an unidentified angel holding a similar flask and a scroll can be seen in fifteenth-century stained glass in tracery glass at St Lawrence’s Church, Harpley (Norfolk, see Woodforde 1950) [Fig. 3]. The only other known medieval English depictions of angels holding such flasks are in other media, for example, a painted depiction of a Principality in the rood screen at Barton Turf, Norfolk, c.1440 (Morgan 2004) and a sculptural depiction in the Beauchamp Chapel, Warwick, c.1443–47 (Eichberg 1998, Marks 2010). Virtues are far more commonly shown bearing a pyx, chrismatory or censer. As urine flasks were typically associated with the medical profession in the Middle Ages, their presence in these panels may indicate the powers of angels and their ability to perform healing miracles.

The inscriptions that accompany the angelic figures appear to derive from medieval liturgical manuscripts related to the feast of Archangel Michael, celebrated on 29 September. The inscriptions appear in an eleventh-century manuscript from Moissac, France, in the Department of Manuscripts at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (N. A. Lat. 1871, see Iversen 1996, p. 98). In this text, the nine orders of the angels are associated with epithets: ‘plebs angelica’ (‘angelic multitude’); ‘phalanx archangelica’ (‘archangelic phalanx’); ‘principans turma’ (‘ruling troop’); ‘virtus uranica’ (‘heavenly virtue’); ‘potestas almiphona’ (‘propitiously singing power’); ‘dominantia numina’ (‘dominating powers’); ‘divina subsellia’ (‘divine tribunes’); ‘Cherubim atherea’ (‘ethereal Cherubim’); and ‘Seraphim ignicoma’ (‘fiery-haired Seraphim’). All these descriptive phrases end in the -a vowel, rhyming with a final ‘Alleluia’ in the sequence. Although examples of visual representations of the Orders of the Angels with accompanying texts have been recorded, the most important examples have now been lost – the painted rood beam at Coventry Cathedral was destroyed during the Second World War, and the inscriptions accompanying the Orders of the Angels in stained glass at All Saints North Street, York, are now mostly lost – demonstrating the significance of the surviving complete texts on these panels. The silver-stain border around each group of angels, and their accompanying tituli, may also relate directly to an illustrated manuscript.

Stylistic and Historic Context

The Orders of the Angels were a popular subject in medieval illuminated manuscripts, panel painting, wall-painting, sculpture, and stained glass (see Eichberg 1998), reflecting their importance in medieval liturgy and devotion. Yet only five complete (or almost complete) fifteenth-century depictions of the Orders of the Angels in stained glass survive in situ in England, many of which are fragmented or heavily restored. Examples can be seen in York at All Saints Church, St Michael’s Spurriergate, and St Martin Coney Street; in Oxford in New College Chapel; in Cornwall at St Neot’s; and at Great Malvern Priory (Morgan 2004). The two panels now in the collection of the Stained Glass Museum represent a now-rare depiction of a popular subject, making them of significant historical interest.

Stylistically, the angels are comparable to other small-scale English panels executed in paint and silver stain. Comparable fifteenth-century examples include the angels in situ in tracery lights at the Church of St Mary and St Clement, Clavering (Essex) [Fig. 4]; and the series of Labours of the Month roundels (dated 1445–75) from Cassiobury Park (Hertfordshire) now in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum (acc. nos. C.123-1923 and C.126-1923, see Williamson 2003).

Fig. 4. Clavering (Essex), Church of St Mary and St Clement: tracery of nIII. (c)Christopher Parkinson

Fig. 4. Clavering (Essex), Church of St Mary and St Clement: tracery of nIII. (c)Christopher Parkinson

The paintwork on both panels is very detailed and highly skilled, indicating that this may be the work of a prominent English glass-painting workshop. The techniques employed include stickwork, the use of a stylus to scrape away areas of paint to produce highlights, as seen in the hems and other details on the angels’ robes and the picking out of the blades of grass on the ground on which the angels stand. There is also some smear shading (on both the front and reverse of the panels) and stipple-shading, used to create depth and texture in the garments. Yellow-coloured silver stain is used to great effect in colouring the wings, golden hair, crowns, and details on the robes, enlivening the whole image.

It is worth commenting on the exceptional condition of the panels. In spite of being over 500 years old, the original paint and silver stain remains intact, and the panels show little to no signs of corrosion. On close examination the panel depicting the Virtues has suffered more paint loss than that of the Principalities; although the inscription and figures here are still very legible, some paint loss has led to the image’s appearing slightly faded. The Principalities panel is far more legible, but it appears that the paintwork may have been touched up at a later date by another hand to enhance the clarity of the image. It was also observed when the outer leads were removed that both panels had been cut down on one of the vertical sides, presumably to fit a window opening at a later date.

More research needs to be done on the possible manuscript sources for these depictions, and the historic and architectural context of the panels. If any Vidimus readers have information or ideas that may help us to understand and interpret these new acquisitions, the museum would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact the curator Dr Jasmine Allen (

The Stained Glass Museum would like to thank the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and the Art Fund, as well as Sam Fogg, Nigel Morgan, George Wigley, Tim Ayers, Richard Marks, and Jean-Michel Massing.


‘Panel of the Month: The Nine Orders of Angels’, Vidimus, 35 (December 2009); (accessed 5 November 2015)

P. B. Chatwin, ‘The effigy of Richard Beauchamp at Warwick’, The Antiquaries Journal, 6 (1926), pp. 448–49

B. B. Eichberg, Les neuf chœurs angéliques: Origine et évolution du thème dans l’art du Moyen Âge, Civilisation médiévale, VI, Poitiers, 1998

G. Iverson, ‘Supera Agalmata: Angels and the celestial hierarchy in sequences and tropes. Examples from Moissac’, in E. L. Lillie and N. H. Peterson (eds), Liturgy and the Arts in the Middle Ages: Studies in Honour of C. Clifford Flanigan, Copenhagen, 1996, pp. 95–133 A. Jameson, Sacred and Legendary Art, London, 1850 (2nd edn)

R. Marks, Stained Glass in England During the Middle Ages, London/Toronto, 1993

R. Marks, ‘Entumbid right princely: the Beauchamp Chapel at Warwick and the politics of interment’, in C. M. Barron and C. Burgess (eds), Memory and Commemoration in Medieval England, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 20, Donington, 2010, pp. 163–84

N. Morgan, ‘Texts, Contexts and Images of the Orders of Angels in Late Medieval England’, in Glas, Malerei, Forschung: Internationale Studien zu Ehren von Rüdiger Becksmann, Berlin, 2004, pp. 211–20

H. Read, J. Baker and A. Lammer, English Stained Glass, London, 1960, pp. 150 and 172

P. Williamson, Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2003, pp. 56–57 P. L. Wilson, Angels, London, 1980

C. Woodforde, ‘Angels’, in The Norwich School of Glass-painting in the Fifteenth Century, Oxford, 1950, pp. 128–48



Margaret Agnes Rope Exhibition at Shrewsbury Museum

The first exhibition dedicated exclusively to the life and works of Shrewsbury stained-glass artist Margaret Agnes Rope (1882–1953) will run at Shrewsbury Museum from September 2016 to January 2017. Rope’s work can be seen in over forty churches across four continents. Her glass is usually classed as being of ‘later Arts & Crafts’ style [Fig. 1].

Fig. 1. Newport Roman Catholic Church (Shropshire): St Winifrede, by Margaret Agnes Rope.

Fig. 1. Newport Roman Catholic Church (Shropshire): St Winifrede, by Margaret Agnes Rope.

Following the example of Christopher Whall, and her own mentor Henry Payne (under whom she studied in Birmingham), Rope followed the Arts & Crafts ideal of being heavily involved with the making of the work. She is known to have kept a workshop at the famous Glass House studios in Fulham, where the co-owner Mary Lowndes encouraged women to strike out as independent makers. Her use of the recently developed ‘slab glass’ gave her work the distinctive jewelled look sought after by Arts & Crafts practitioners.

Despite her achievements, she has largely disappeared from art history. This cannot be attributed solely to critical reception of her work: she left very few records (only three photos of her are known to exist, and only one letter); in addition, at the age of forty, she entered an enclosed convent (though she continued to work from there for another twenty-five years). Although mention was made of Rope’s work in Peter Cormack’s Arts and Crafts Stained Glass, this exhibition, which has been put together largely by enthusiasts of Margaret’s glass on behalf of Shrewsbury Museum, will be the first real chance to assess her output. Undaunted by the apparent paucity of available artefacts, the museum has been able to source many objects, most of which will be being seen in public for the first time. A specially designed light-show will display projected photos of her church glass, and present-day Shrewsbury glass artist Nathalie Liege will lead workshops in the making of stained glass while the exhibition in on. It is expected that there will also be lectures and other complementary activities.

The Shrewsbury Museum has set up a special email address to deal with all matters relating to the exhibition (, for anything from tourist information about Shrewsbury to receiving extra information about Margaret Rope.

Stained Glass Museum Events and News

2016 Study Weekend in Essex: Thursday 21 – Sunday 24 April 2016

The study weekend will be based in the historic town of Colchester, and there will be visits to various sites to see a range of stained glass spanning the medieval to the modern periods. Highlights include the twelfth- and thirteenth-century glass at Rivenhall and the unique fourteenth- and fifteenth-century glass at Sheering and Margaretting [Fig. 1]. For post-medieval glass, participants will see the stunning imported sixteenth- and seventeenth-century French glass from the Neave Collection at Noak Hill, and the eighteenth-century glass at Leigh-on-Sea.

Fig. 1. Rivenhall: detail from window in St Mary and All Saints.

Fig. 1. Rivenhall: detail from window in St Mary and All Saints.

Fig. 2. Great Warley: detail from window in St Mary the Virgin.

Fig. 2. Great Warley: detail from window in St Mary the Virgin.

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century makers and studios will also be covered. There will be an opportunity to see the windows designed by Edward-Burne-Jones for Powell & Sons at Waltham Abbey, alongside less familiar glass by Percy Bacon, Townshend & Howson, and A. K. Nicholson. More recent glass by John Hayward and Patrick Reyntiens also features, and the itinerary includes visits to the splendid ‘Art Nouveau cathedral’ at Great Warley, which includes windows by Powells and Lawrence Lee [Fig. 2].

For more information and the full programme, please visit the museum’s website. Prices (per person): £425 (residential, single occupancy, including three nights bed, breakfast and evening meals); £400 (residential, double/twin occupancy, including three nights bed, breakfast and evening meals); £200 (non-residential, visits and evening meals); £100 (visits only). The number of places is limited, and deposits must be paid by the end of January.



Student Bursary

The Stained Glass Museum is inviting students registered in full or part-time higher education to apply for a bursary to cover all or most of the cost of a place on the museum’s 2016 study weekend. This bursary has been made available thanks to the generosity of individual Friends of the Stained Glass Museum. For more information on eligibility and how to apply, please visit the museum’s website. Enquiries should be directed to the museum’s curator, Dr Jasmine Allen (, 01353 660347).

Stained Glass Walking Tour: Putney and Fulham, Tuesday 31 May 2016

Fig. 3. Putney Exchange Shopping Centre.

Fig. 3. Putney Exchange Shopping Centre.

To celebrate the publication of Caroline Swash’s new book The 100 Best Stained Glass Sites in London (2015), the museum has organized a walking tour exploring stained glass at four sites in Putney and Fulham, south-west London. Destinations include the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Putney, where there is a scheme of windows by Alan Younger, whose work can also be seen at the nearby Putney Exchange Shopping Centre [Fig. 3], and All Saints, Fulham, where there is a variety of nineteenth- and twentieth-century stained glass. We will end the day at the former residence of the bishop of London, Fulham Palace, which has a special collection of eighteenth-century heraldic panels, Benjamin West’s cartoons for Fonthill Abbey, and more recent glass by Brian Clarke in the chapel.

Cost: £30 per person (£25 for Museum Friends). NB. Lunch is not provided. For more information and the full programme, please visit the museum’s website.

The Art and Science of Nineteenth-Century Stained Glass: Conference in Oxford, 22–23 April 2016

Fig. 1. Metz, town hall: portrait of the Duc de Guise, c.1863, by Maréchal de Metz.

Fig. 1. Metz, town hall: portrait of the Duc de Guise, c.1863, by Maréchal de Metz.

The remarkable revival of the art of stained glass in the nineteenth century sprang from the convergence of renewed interest in an ancient art form with modern science. While nineteenth-century stained glass has been the subject of an increasing number of art-historical studies over the last thirty years, the interdisciplinary approach to the subject has received little sustained scholarly attention. The conference will explore the relationships between technological developments and artistic evolution, chemistry and aesthetics, and modern analytical techniques and our understanding of works in stained glass from this period. Over two days, scholars, conservators and historians from both France and Britain will share their research and propose new perspectives on this stage in the medium’s history.

The keynote lecture will be given by Jean-François Luneau, formerly heritage conservator and conference convenor at the Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont Ferrand (France); other speakers include Dr David Dungworth (Head of Archaeological Conservation and Technology at Historic England); and Mme Viviane Bulckaen (a stained-glass conservator who has worked extensively in glass, stained glass, and ceramics).

22 April, 5pm, keynote lecture followed by drinks at the Maison Française d’Oxford
23 April, 9.30am – 5pm, conference at Ertegun House, Oxford

The conference is sponsored by the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities and the Maison Française d’Oxford. While the conference is free and all interested parties are welcome, attendees are kindly asked to register by emailing Please also feel free to contact us with any questions. For more details, please visit the conference website.

Winter Events at the Stained Glass Centre, York

Book Sale: Friday, 29 January 2016, 10am – 3pm

Those who are not free over the weekend will have a chance to snaffle some brilliant books on stained glass, art, architecture and history from the collections of Peter Gibson and Michael Archer, on the Friday 29 January 2016, at the Stained Glass Centre.

Residents’ Festival: Saturday 30 January 2016, 10am – 4pm

Fig. 1. Residents’ festival 2014. (c) SGC

Fig. 1. Residents’ festival 2014. (c) SGC

On Saturday 30th January, the Stained Glass Centre’s breathtaking grade 1 listed building, which contains historic stained glass and fascinating graffiti, will be open: there will be family-friendly activities, an exhibition, and craft stalls, as well as a chance to have a go at designing a window or painting on glass. Stained-glass experts will be on hand for demonstrations and discussions, with regular tours of the Centre. There will also be a large book sale, with a wide range of books on stained glass, art, architecture and history available for purchase, and visitors can take the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the atmosphere of the St Martin-cum-Gregory with a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

The Lord Mayor’s Charity Ball: Saturday 13 February 2016

The annual charity ball of the Lord Mayor of York has become a highlight of many social calendars and will once again be held in the Voltigeur Suite at York Racecourse, on Saturday 13 February 2016. As one of the Lord Mayor’s and Sheriff’s three chosen charities, the Stained Glass Centre will be attending.

Until 2 February, tickets can be purchased at the discounted price of £55 per person, after which the price will be £60. Tickets can be bought by contacting the civic office (, or 01904 551011, or 01904 551027).

Awards from the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass

The aim of all the Glaziers’ Company’s awards is to raise the standards of work within the craft, particularly in the UK, by offering additional learning experiences to enhance the skills of potential workers.

Work Placement Awards 2016–17

For the year 2016–17 the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass is offering the Award for Excellence and the Ashton Hill Award, and the Arthur and Helen David Travelling Scholarship. Applications are invited from individuals who are intending to undertake a long-term career in stained glass, preferably within the UK. The deadline for entry for these awards is Friday 1 April, with interviews on Monday 18 April. The Award for Excellence and the Ashton Hill Award both offer valuable opportunities for those wishing to develop their skills towards a practical career in stained glass. Recipients will be placed in high-quality working studios, where they will undertake mentored work experience on actual projects under the supervision, guidance and tuition of experienced professionals.

The forty-week Award for Excellence is an enhanced work-experience programme that provides individual tuition tailored to the needs and interests of the award winner. It is suitable for those with an interest in contemporary and traditional techniques and in conservation. Applications may be considered from exceptional conservators and painters in other media without prior glass experience who wish to expand their practice to include glass working. The ten-week Ashton Hill Awards are offered to those wishing to develop their skills in conservation and/or glass-painting. For both awards up to £265 per week is provided to assist with subsistence, rent, and travel costs for the duration of the award.

The Arthur and Helen Davis Travelling Scholarship

This scholarship, worth up to £1,500, is awarded in alternate years to a student or an artist in stained glass, and is being offered in 2016. It is aimed at those who are still training; those within five years of having completed training may also apply. The object of the scholarship is to give the winner the opportunity to travel to widen their experience and to develop their study and knowledge of glass. The deadline is 1 April 2016, and further details may be found on the website.

Continuing Professional Development Awards

These are short in duration and help with training for professionals, supporting either a move towards accreditation as a conservator or tuition to increase proficiency or develop creative skills in the practice of the craft. The award could be used to assist someone to attend a masterclass, a course, seek tuition, shadow a fellow professional, or learn a new skill to enhance working practices. These awards are particularly aimed at professionals unable to leave their work for long periods, so they typically enable attendance at short courses or short studio placements under expert tuition. Each award will offer up to £550 towards tuition costs and £225 towards subsistence. The deadline is 31 January 2016, and further details may be found on the website.