This is me going off on a tangent before writing up a post on Worcester Cathedral. I’ve spent quite a lot of the past few weeks staring at stained glass one way or another, though not taken many photographs of whole windows because I can’t do them justice. Aside from a crick in my neck, time spent waiting for the sun to come out and a fascination with Thomas Denny windows I’ve learned a whole new vocabulary. This is by way of a glossary for future reference.
Cartoon -A full scale drawing of each panel of glass or light. The cartoon follows on from the vidimus.
Catherine window – another name for a rose window or wheel window because of its symmetrical pattern, containing tracery that makes the ‘rose’. They are usually Gothic in origin and must contain the radiating wheel spokes to be Catherine, wheel or rose windows depending upon your choice of name.
Cinquefoil– five lobed shape. Usually to be found within the tracery (fancy lace-like stonework) elements of a window.
Clerestory – the upper part of the wall within the church, cathedral or abbey containing windows.
Diaper- a decorative pattern added to the glass with paint.
Donor window – the people who paid for the window feature in the window.
Gothic – style of architecture evolving from Romanseque during the late medieval period – pointed arches, vaulted ceilings, flying buttresses and fancy tracery.
Grisaille– monochrome painting on glass.
Jesse Window – window depicting Christ’s ancestors beginning with Jesse, father of King David. Wells Cathedral has a fourteenth century Jesse Window.
Light – the posh term for the complete vertical panel of glass within the stone framework of the window.
Medallion– circular panel of glass.
Mullion – vertical stone shafts between the panes (lights) of the window.
Murrey – colour ranging from pink through to reddish brown.
Quarry– small diamond shape pane of glass. Quarries are prone to bulging with the passage of time.
Rose window – The most common name for a Catherine window or wheel window derived from the French name rosace. The window is formed from symmetrical patterns, containing tracery that makes the ‘rose’ or ‘spoke’. They are usually Gothic in origin and must contain the radiating wheel spokes to be Catherine, wheel or rose windows depending upon your choice of name. The Rose Window in York Minster is one of, if not the, best in the country. It is certainly the most famous after the fire of 1984 which saw all 7000 pieces of glass cracked by the heat of the blaze but remained in tact. The painstaking conservation that followed ensured that the window was back on display by 1987. The ‘Bishop’s Eye’ window in Lincoln is not a rose window despite often being called such because although it is round it is not created with ‘spokes.’ An article on the development of rose windows and their symbolism can be found here. There is also an interesting article on the geometry and number involved in the creation of rose windows as well as their symbolism here.
Saddle bar – a horizontal iron bar running across a pane (light) to which the glass panels are tied.
Spandrel– in window terms they are the small openings between the corner of the arch of a window and the horizontal stone bar (transom).
Tracery – intricate stonework at the top of the window.
Transom– the horizontal bar of stone that runs across the middle of the window giving it strength.
Trefoil – three lobed shape.
Vidimus – literally meaning “we have seen”. A sketch of the window to be shown to the people who have paid for it or want it created.
Wheel window – another name for a rose window or Catherine window because of their symmetrical patterns, containing tracery that makes the ‘rose’ or ‘spoke’. They are usually Gothic in origin and must contain the radiating wheel spokes to be Catherine, wheel or rose windows depending upon your choice of name.
Here is a link to the York Glaziers Trust with a bigger glossary and much better illustrations. Double click to open a new window. The Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi (CVMA) of Great Britain is a project devoted to recording Britain’s medieval stained glass. They have a very large archive. Double click to open a new window and possibly a whole new set of days and weekends out! As you might expect given it’s medieval heritage there is a Worshipful Company of Glaziers which dates back to 1328. Part of their story is told by the Stained Glass Museum which is based in Ely.