The Full Story
When serious structural problems were identified with the east elevation of Holy Trinity Church in Lydham, Recclesia were awarded the contract to carry out both the masonry and stained glass repairs. Our ability to undertake conservation projects like this entirely in-house whilst acting as principal contractor makes our firm very attractive to architects and clients.
The stained glass is by Herbert Bryans, who worked with CE Kempe until starting out on his own in 1897. The window was installed in 1904 and is dedicated to the Rector Federick Septimus Green and Arabella Elizabeth his wife, by their three children. The stained glass features Bryans' makers mark, the running dog, at the bottom of the third lancet.
The masonry surrounding the glass was in danger of imminent collapse meaning that the entire elevation had to be structurally propped using specially designed scaffolding prior to the glass being removed. As well as the elevation being structurally unsound, the masonry of the window itself was also so badly decayed that there was visible movement in several sections. Worse, the structural movement in the masony had placed the stained glass under terrific stress, leading to numerous cracks and buckling throughout the lead matrix.
With everything securely proped, the stained glass was gingerly removed from the stonework. In some places, the stone had to be cut and secured time after time to prevent it from falling on top of the glass as it was removed. With care and a lot of patience, the glass was successfully removed without incident. Scaffolding was placed on both sides of the elevation, inside and out, and a walkway erected from the lowest lift to allow safe movement of the glass.
On site, Recclesia's masons set about templating and producing the new window, addressing the stuctural issues and inserting the brand new window into the elevation. Stone was used from the Woodkirk quarry in Leeds, which was found to be a good match for the existing in terms of appearance, weathering characteristics, porosity and strength.
At the stained glass studio, the conservators set about examining and inspecting the stained glass. This is a crucial part of any project as it allows the conservator to build up a much clearer picture of the issues that need to be dealt with, and allow a considered approach to selecting treatments or courses of action. This can rarely be established from the ground, or even whilst the window is still in the building. A good conservation architect will always allow for this period of examination and subsequent discussion about treatment.
In this case, the remedies were relatively straight forward as the problems suffered by the window were largely a result of the conditions it had been exposed to rather than there being problems with the stained glass itself. Whilst there were a number of breaks in the glass, almost every section of original fabric was retained by piecing the broken sections back together by edge-bonding and plating. The glass was cleaned using pure water and cotton wool.
Another issue facing the glass studio was that Bryans had made his glass in 1904 to fit into medieval masonry which by that point had already moved quite significantly. This posed a dilemma. Should the masons put the new masonry back to suit the glass, or should the glass be adjusted to suit the masonry? Discussions on site led to a compromise arrangement. Structurally, the masonry had to be put back to a certain plane (although even this was far from plumb due to the leaning elevation) which reduced the level of adjustment required to the glass panels. This meant that rather than have to change any of the existing glass, the differences were accomodated in the leadwork. The compromise worked well!
The window was reinstated into the new masonry in June 2011. The architect, English Heritage and the PCC were all extremely pleased with the work.