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Glass survivors

22 February 2013

JESUS crucified on a green cross is the feature of this 14th-century stained-glass panel. It is one of three that survived both the vandals of the Reformation and the ravages of the Civil War. Surrounded here by oak leaves and acorns, the green cross represents the tree of life in medieval symbolism, linking the crucifixion to Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.

One of the other preserved panels shows an intricate armorial shield belonging to the fifth Lord FitzHugh, of Ravensworth Castle, near Richmond. The third, which is small, is a good example of 13th-century ornamental glass.

The restoration of these three stained-glass windows was the final task in a cleaning and renovation programme at St Mary's, Wath, in Ripon & Leeds diocese. The work was carried out by the glass painter and restorer Jonathan Cooke (above) from Ilkley. He is curious to know how the panels survived the upheavals of the 16th and 17th centuries. In the Victorian era, when St Mary's windows were altered substantially, he says that it was common practice to take the original windows in part payment, but perhaps these small panels were thought not worth the taking; so they were simply tucked out of view at the top of the windows.

Yet they have been considered important enough by glass experts to have attracted grants for their restoration from antiquarian and specialist trusts, such as the Society of Antiquaries of London, and the Glaziers' Trust.


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