The Full Story
Recclesia was commissioned to examine this very special window after it became very clear that there was an issue with organic growth. The extent of the growth was so heavy that very little light was visible through the window.
Following the installation of very poor external secondary glazing some years ago, a vibrant but much unwanted microclimate had developed between the secondary glass and the external face of the stained glass. This led to the growth of mosses and lichens on the glass both internally and externally. Furthermore, the trapping of moisture between the layers of glass had caused condensation to build up and cause significant deterioration of the original medieval leadwork (to the heraldry), the glass surfaces and the paintwork.
The entire window was removed from the church and returned to the studio for highly specialised conservation work. Whilst the majority of the panel had been releaded in the 1800s, the heraldry (visible in the left lancet in the first photo, right) still retained its quite rudimentary hand-wrought medieval lead. The glass was cleaned under a microscope, allowing minute detrius to be cleaned from the surface, pitted by corrosion. The newer Victorian leadwork was in such a bad state that it was mostly replaced, but the panel of medieval leadwork was retained in full and underwent only very considered stabilisation work.
The windows were protected using stainless steel powder-coated guards after being reinstated. Recclesia is one of the few studios in the UK to fabricate its own metalwork.
It is thought that the window may be the remains of a much bigger window salvaged from Strata Marcella Abbey at Pool Quay, Welshpool. The Abbey was founded in 1170, by Owain Cyfeiliog Prince of Powys, as a daughter house of the Abbey at Whitland.
Building work continued until the early 13th century by which time Strata Marcella had become the largest Cistercian Abbey in Wales. Its nave was 200 feet long. It was monks from Strata Marcella who went to the Vale of Llangollen in 1200 to found the Abbey of Valle Crucis.
During the Owain Glyndŵr rising at the beginning of the 15th century the buildings were heavily damaged and the monastery never completely recovered. It was finally disolved in 1536, by whch time all items of value had been stripped from the building.