St Monica Trust | Stained Glass Conservation in Bristol | Recclesia Stained Glass

The Full Story

In 2015 Recclesia Stained Glass was asked by St. Monica Trust to carry out an extensive survey to their historic buildings as many of the windows were leaking and there were localized issues with the stonework. The buildings on this site are gargantuan, and between them all there are some 3,600 leaded light windows. The survey took three glass specialists over a month to complete, assessing every single window for repair and detailing what was to be done to each one.

Initially, Recclesia was commissioned to undertake a test-phase to one of the lodge buildings on the site in order to set a repair standard to be rolled-out across the rest of the site. The repairs saw the leaded lights removed to the Chester studio for releading work, and the bronze casements and stonework repaired on site during the process.

For three years the specialist site team, overseen by Mike Batters and Sarah Woodall systematically worked through all of the buildings on site, with our stained glass studio in Chester taking the workshop-based strain. Whilst they are not the most complicated pieces of leaded glazing Recclesia have worked on, being composed of only rectangular sections of glass, the difficulty has come from sheer quantity. Some 3,000 of the total leaded lights have been releaded, requiring over 54,000 individual pieces of glass to be carefully cleaned by hand. Over 4 tons of putty and around 25 miles of lead came has been used. No wonder we're tired!

The project will complete in late 2018 with the windows of the on-site chapel being the last to undergo repair.

About St Monica Trust

It was in the early twentieth century that Monica Wills first devised the idea of creating a small rest home for five or six missionary friends. This idea grew and by 1919 Monica and her husband Henry Wills, purchased the Cote house estate, and founded a charity named the St Monica Home of Rest. The Wills then commissioned their friend and architect George Oatley to design the home. After the site was cleared, priority was given to the building of the new chapel that would form the centre piece of the complex. Five years after the foundation stone for the chapel was laid in 1920, the building of the St Monica Home was finally completed.

At first between 70 and 80 residents were housed in the main house, with Oatley Court being used as housing for the live-in nursing staff.

Today the site is known as the Cote Lane Retirement village, and is run by the St Monica Trust. At its heart is are the grade II listed Oatley House and St Monica’s Court, the former home to 70 retirement homes and the latter to around 30 residents. Oatley chose an Elizabethan revival style, incorporating course pennant rubble with limestone dressing and squared leaded light windows.