Richly Decorated Apse by Sasha Ward

Central window, Christ resurrected & detail, HB&B 1888

The apse is in St Nicholas, East Grafton, a church in a scenic position on the village green. It is a Victorian church designed in the Romanesque style by Benjamin Ferrey in the 1840s, with a decorative interior scheme by Thomas Willement and stained glass by a number of different firms. The windows that interest me are the three in the apse by Heaton, Butler & Bayne, because they look absolutely great in combination with the painted walls and window reveals. The wall painting is geometric, floral ornamentation while the glass designs are unusually devoid of pattern or border. The glass is mostly white with brown paint and silverstain, some patches of red and a beautiful piece of light blue in St Margaret's palm leaf (below right). These colours link the windows back to the painting on the walls.

Left hand window, St Margaret & details, HB&B 1888

The billowing clouds make a complete contrast with the patterned walls, they give the windows a feeling that is so light and full of air although they are heavily painted. At each side is a smaller narrow opening filled with clear lozenges. These complete the semi circle of the apse wall in a very satisfying way, different styles but nothing jarring. 

Right hand window, St Nicholas & detail, HB&B 1887

New Favourite Detail by Sasha Ward

Carvings around the doors of St Mary, Chilton Foliat

The new favourite detail is from St. Mary, Chilton Foliat, Wiltshire where there was an open door (what a great latch) and smiles on the faces of the carved figures around it. Opposite the south door, in a two light stained glass window made by James Powell & Sons in 1931, is the lovely little interior scene below, showing the young Mary with her mother Saint Anne.

 Lower right hand panel from James Powell & Sons 1931 window

Lower right hand panel from James Powell & Sons 1931 window

The figures are engaging and have just the right amount of illustrative simplicity,  they are set off by a background, with two sizes of chair and a traditional flooring pattern, that is similarly clean and crisp. I kept returning to this window without really knowing why I liked it - it's not my usual type of thing! In this church there are various styles of stained glass in smallish windows and these provide interesting comparisons.

 Vision of St. Hubert by John Hayward 1966

Vision of St. Hubert by John Hayward 1966

First there is this John Hayward window from the 1960s, full of wonderful details but, as usual, so messy in its composition. I love the background figures and the shapes on the ground, the feet of St. Hubert and the stag are shown above covered in subtle layers of paint and sgraffito lines. I have always found this painting style depressing, it amounts to covering beautiful transparent coloured glass with a grey film and then scratching it off to let tiny bits of light through - the opposite of crisp and simple lines.

 St Cecilia, designed by A.E. Buss, made by Goddard & Gibbs in 1976

St Cecilia, designed by A.E. Buss, made by Goddard & Gibbs in 1976

I have included this little St Cecilia window for nostalgic reasons as she looks so 1970s which is when I started making stained glass. But I also find her a bit sentimental - like the little landscape beside her. I hope that's the cottage that Fred, Nellie, Lionel & Elsie lived in, I like the confident way the scene is painted, going across the coloured borders of the glass.

 Blessed Virgin Mary & Baby Jesus by Bell & Beckham 1872

Blessed Virgin Mary & Baby Jesus by Bell & Beckham 1872

We looked at this window for a long time, there's a lot to enjoy in the beautiful rich colours and the ornate pattern making. The inscription below, the canopy above, the background and border patterns all work well together. But the figures with their fixed expressions don't have the charm of those in my new favourite detail.

 Window by Thomas Willement 1844, with memorial to Francis Hugh Leyborne Popham, aged 5 months

Window by Thomas Willement 1844, with memorial to Francis Hugh Leyborne Popham, aged 5 months

Two pairs of windows are made of translucent glass with stencilled oak tree details and red borders, two others have the same vibrant red background and a pattern of vines. Here are two good examples of patterned botanical windows. When seen together, they really enhance the space and provide a wonderful backdrop to the memorials in the church. But it's harder to do a good stained glass window with figurative subject matter as the other windows by Thomas Willement in this church - too ghastly even to photograph - demonstrate.

chilton 55.jpg
 St Luke & BVM in St Michael, Shalbourne 1995

St Luke & BVM in St Michael, Shalbourne 1995

On the way home we stopped at Shalbourne to see this window made in 1995 by Hanry Haig to Karl Parson's design. I knew I wasn't going to like it as I'd seen illustrations of the really floppy and weak-featured BVM in my guide book. It provides more food for thought - how difficult it is to get the figures right. As you would expect from these two artists there are some fabulous details in the painting, texture and use of subtle glass, and the way the emblems (St Luke's bull shown above) fit in to the overall composition.

Sea, Stone and Glass by Sasha Ward

Detail of 1919 window designed by Edward Prynne, made by J.Jennings.

Usually, you can find a great bit of detail in any old stained glass window. I saw this wonderful cupid at the bottom of one of a series of six in St Thomas a Becket, Pagham, West Sussex, helpfully signed with the inscription of the designer and the maker, "Edwd. A.F.Prynne, J. Jennings, AD 1919". The backgrounds to the figures are smothered with clumps of plants between streams of water on pieces of glass whose shape reminded me of the flints that some buildings in this area are made of.

Wall of St Thomas a Becket, Pagham.          Background detail from one of the six Edward Prynne windows

Details from the east window, with signatures at bottom right.

The whole of the east window is a lovely composition of old glass. The details I have picked out include figures in bright coloured glass with rich silverstain. In the bottom right of each photo is another useful inscription - on the left "Re-glazed & re-arranged 1939 HMOT" (Howard Martin Otto Travers), on the right "RE-LEADED AD 1919 J.Jennings". 

It was good to have this reminder of the process as I was on my way to teach a stained glass course at West Dean College. At the end of the week I could see lots of links between the windows in Pagham Church and the students' panels, see below. These include representations of the sea in cut shapes and glass paint, clump shaped pieces of glass with landscape painting, and the inspiring backdrop of a wall in the world's largest flint building (according to one of my students, an ex- architect).

Student windows from West Dean College: sea, rainy landscape, composition in front of flint wall at West Dean.

Pagham: seaside coffee break, seaside architecture, seaside window.

Click images to enlarge

Rose Windows by Sasha Ward

 All Saints, Shrewsbury                                                                 Holy Cross, Ramsbury, Wiltshire

All Saints, Shrewsbury                                                                 Holy Cross, Ramsbury, Wiltshire

On the last four trips to look at stained glass windows, I've found myself looking at the same shaped rose in the centre of a design. These all have at leat one ring of five petals with a symmetrically folded edge and a spotty centre. They range from the most realistic at All Saints Shrewsbury (above left) to the most modern and heraldic one from the 1950s at Eltham Palace (below right).  The effect of three of them is rather ruined by one or two bars running right through the centre, but I like the combination of this basic 3D modelling surrounded by geometric patterns - as ever I'm focusing on the look of the design rather than its meaning. 

 Moravian Church, Malmesbury                                            Great Hall, Eltham Palace

Moravian Church, Malmesbury                                            Great Hall, Eltham Palace

 The Vyne, Hampshire                             St. Mary, South Hayling             St. Mary, Cheltenham

The Vyne, Hampshire                             St. Mary, South Hayling             St. Mary, Cheltenham

Unsurprisingly, I found more examples of the same in my files of recent stained glass photographs including the two above - the most lovely red on blue rose in a tudor window at The Vyne (NT, near Basingstoke) and one at the bottom of a Kempe window on Hayling Island. As this slightly blurry image shows, I wasn't concentrating on the bottom, or predella, of a window at this point even though this is where you can get an excellent close up shot. 

It's great to see more realistic roses too, like the ones in the triangular tracery from St. Mary, Cheltenham (above right). My all time favourites are in St. Johannes, also known as The Church of the Roses, built in Malmo in 1906. The rose is everywhere inside and is the subject matter of most of the windows, including a number of rose "rose" windows. Since my first visit to this church in 2012 I have been very influenced by its colour scheme in my work for interiors. The combination of every hue but in a pastel tone gives you a really peaceful, happy feeling.

panel rose 5.jpg
 St. Johannes, Malmo

St. Johannes, Malmo

Slightly Anonymous by Sasha Ward

Glass in the light well, Shrewsbury Cathedral toilets.

Luckily there were some fascinating glass blocks in the toilets at Shrewsbury Cathedral, as that (and the cafe) was the only part of the building open to visitors last Sunday lunchtime. I took photographs of these (above) instead of the famous Margaret Rope windows I wanted to see. Then I thought about the windows I had seen recently and sorted out the ones that photographed well to make this review of my stained glass year. Comments below say what I like about each group of windows. Together, they are a celebration of the anonymous makers and designers - except for a few bits of Victoriana. 

King's College Chapel, Cambridge.            Chavenage House, Gloucestershire.     St. Mary, Bruton, Somerset.

Fantastic glass painting of faces and figures - C15th deceased man standing in his tomb; medieval fragments; coloured background of the promised land by The Royal Stained Glass Works.

Peterborough, shop door.                         St. Thomas a Becket, Romney Marsh.     Sts. Peter & Paul, Wisbech.

Crosses - stained glass crochet style; cross that emphasises the qualities of the materials; crucifixion using Victorian (William Wailes?) and medieval fragments.

The Grand, Folkestone.                 Holy Cross, Ramsbury, Wiltshire.                  Kingsdown Crematorium, Wiltshire.

Shadows and the introduction of colour - holiday breakfast; wonky geometry; new laminated coloured glass panels.

All Saints, Cambridge.                         All Saints, Leicester.                                         Peterborough Cathedral.

From rectangles to diamonds - ancient angels below & William Morris angels above; with both shapes & more wonky geometry; keys of St. Peter in light and dark colours above the huge diamond panels.

Click on pictures to enlarge, follow me on twitter (link at top of page) and instagram (sashawardglass) to see more.