Stained Glass window glossary

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.DSCF2437.jpg

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.

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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.

 

 

Stained Glass in Great Malvern Priory

DSCF2447.jpgThe priory’s treasure is its windows.  It has the largest collection of fifteenth century glass in England which means that the parliamentarians didn’t get there during the English Civil War. It also means that although the parishioners of Great Malvern were able to buy the priory for £20 they were unable to remove the coloured glass and replace it with plain Protestant panes in later years.

I was told that the glazing of the East Window began in 1430 and although the pieces of glass no longer tell a story because of the impact of time and ivy the panes are still medieval having been moved around from other locations within the church. Wells suggests that the window was originally given by Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick and his wife Isabel Despenser because of the roses and circle stars that appear there and which also feature on their coat of arms.

 

DSCF2426Looking to the west, the arms of Richard III, then Duke of Gloucester can be found.  This was probably moved from the West Window which was originally donated by him and his wife Anne Neville.  Her coat of arms can be found in the western choir aisle in the so-called museum window which is largely plain with sections of medieval glass being inset there.  The heads of two bear supporters – referencing the bear and ragged staff can be seen. The West Window told of the Day of Judgement. Depending upon your viewpoint of Richard III there may well be some irony in his donation and the fact that of all the windows this was the one which survived least well into the modern era.

The west window of the transept is known as the Magnificat Window and was donated by Henry VII.  I shall do a separate post on that as it contains images of Henry, Prince Arthur and some of his leading henchmen.

 

IMG_7777.jpgHowever, in Queen Anne’s Chapel a treat awaits.  Most stained glass involves a crick in the neck but here the windows are substantially lower so the glass is much closer.  The crucifixion window is Victorian but the rest of the glass is medieval.  One window tells the story of the Creation, another the stories of Noah and Abraham whilst the third relates the stories of Isaac, Joseph and Moses.  It is a reminder that in an age where most people lived in small dark buildings that churches were full of light and colour.  It is also a reminder that the word of God came not only from the priest but from the pictures that surrounded the congregation.

 

 

 

 

 

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The tradition of donors, some of whom are pictured above, giving windows continued in Great Malvern Church through the Victorian era with Princess Charlotte, the only child of George IV who died in childbirth, donating a window amongst others. The Friends of Malvern Priory donated the Tom Denny windows which celebrate the millennium.  They can be found in the north choir.  Their theme is psalm 36. Denny has used the Malvern hills as part of his inspiration as well as colours which echo the medieval windows.  Denny was also commissioned in Leicester for the Richard III memorial windows. Once seen, his style is instantly recognisable.

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Wells, Katherine. (2013). A Tour of the Stained Glass of Great Malvern Priory. The Friends of Malvern Priory.

 

Greystoke Church Stained-Glass

GreystokeThe 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.