The parish church of St Andrews in Greystoke had seen some difficult times by the seventeenth century. It was first built in stone in 1255. Its key feature was a defensible tower where villagers could take shelter when the Scots came raiding. It’s ironic that the name St Andrew is a reminder that in 1066 this part of Cumbria was in Scotland where it remained until the reign of William Rufus. A wooden church may have stood upon the site when Ranulph de Meschines gave the land into the hands of Llyulph or Ligulph a local man. The Barony of Greystoke was confirmed to his son by Henry I.
But back to St Andrews. It prospered under the care of the Greystokes ultimately becoming a college for the training of priests during the fourteenth century. It had chantries and could offer sanctuary to those who needed it. That all changed with the Reformation when the furniture was stripped out and the priests sent away.
Worse was to follow during the English Civil War. Cumberland, generally speaking, was Royalist by inclination. By that time Greystoke Castle was in the hands of the Howard family – (the Dukes of Norfolk).
In 1648 the civil war arrived in Greystoke. The castle was besieged and captured – some might say knocked about a bit- by the Parliamentarians under General Lambert. It wasn’t rebuilt until the nineteenth century.
The inhabitants of Greystoke had clearly heard about the iconoclastic tendencies of the Parliamentarians and before the Roundheads arrived, so the story goes, they carefully removed all the medieval stained glass windows and buried them for safekeeping.
The glass was eventually recovered and restored in 1848 at the same time the whole church was rebuilt. Unfortunately it could not be reset as it was meant to be. Glass fragments had become lost and confused with the passage of time. This means that some of the images do not quite tell the stories they were meant to tell. The devil under the foot of the bishop isn’t quite where he should be – he should be whispering in Eve’s ear.
There are plenty of examples of ‘patchwork’ or ‘jigsaw’ stained glass around the countryside. In Wells, the medieval glass is a reminder that medieval lead and putty might not have been up to the job as well as being a reminder that Parliamentarians armed with pikes were not gentle with old glass.
Much of the stained glass in the City of York survives only because Lord Ferdinando Fairfax gave orders that it should not be destroyed after the Parliamentarians captured the city in 1644.