Family and Faith

STAINED GLASS WINDOWS IN MEDIEVAL PARISH CHURCHES

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The parish church was at the centre of spiritual, social and political life in the communities of medieval England.

In the western midlands the rare fragments of stained glass that remain provide fascinating glimpses of the inter-relationships of church, patrons and donors.

One of the few contracts to have survived that records arrangements for the commissioning of a stained glass window is from 1405 between the Dean and Chapter of York Minster and John Thornton of Coventry. Not only is a new east window commissioned, but the contract requires that Thornton himself should paint the main figures. Thornton’s consummate skills reflect a legacy rooted in the work of glass manufacturers and glass painters working across the west midlands region for over a century.

Excavations have demonstrated that glass was being manufactured on Cannock Chase by the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, while fourteenth-century taxation records name some of the artisans associated with this industry. The requirements of the region’s churches must have ensured steady employment for local workshops. Examples remain in the Worcester area from the early fourteenth century associated with the accomplished windows depicting the Virgin and Child at Warndon and Fladbury. Specific projects also brought men from elsewhere to work in the region, such as the mid-fifteenth-century Beauchamp Chapel in Warwick, the painted glass for which was commissioned from John Prudde of Westminster, a glazier to the king.

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Art Glass Medieval