History of Stained Glass in South Lakeland: Sarah Lace April 2022

Sarah Lace gave a talk on the history of stained glass in South Lakeland and began by pointing out what makes stained glass special.   Questions asked are what is the architectural aspect of the glass, why it is a particular size and where is it situated.   The translucence of the glass allows light to pass through it in the daytime.  The images, especially of the biblical characters and stories, allowed people who could not read, to understand those stories and in the 12th century the church windows were particularly large for this purpose.

Stained glass has a timeline of periods running from Norman and Romanesque (1000 – 1300 AD) through the Gothic (1300 – 1700AD) to the innovative period in Victorian Britain from 1850 to the 1890s.  

Sarah continued to give 5 specific examples of stained glass in churches in South Lakeland.

The first was St Mary and St. Michael’s at Great Urswick, which is one of the oldest churches in the area and the East window has stained glass showing the coats of arms of the then local major landholders in the area.

The second church is St. Martin’s church in Bowness-on-Windermere, built in 1203, burnt down in 1480 and restored in 1870 by Paley and Austin. Decorative murals on the walls were discovered and the east window contains stained glass from many periods, some believed to come from old abbeys, including Furness Abbey and Cartmel Priory. Henry Hughes of London restored the east window in about 1870.

St. Oswald’s church in Grasmere is the third church and the earliest date was 1250. There is medieval stained glass in windows on the south side of the chancel. The windows on the south side were by Henry Holiday in the 1890s and a window on the north side is by Shrigley and Hunt in 1926.

The fourth church is Jesus church in Troutbeck and there was a church here from 1506 but the current church was built in 1736. The east window is dated 1873 and was designed by William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Ford Madox Brown.

Finally the fifth church highlighted was St. James church in Staveley in Kendal. In 1860 the 14th century church was replaced with a new church and the east window is pre-raphaelite glass made by Morris and Co, designed by Edward Burne-Jones.

Sarah also designs and makes stained glass and brought with her the tools, designs and books related to her trade. She also asked questions from the audience about her subject and its history.

Barbara Copeland

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