Following major internal re-ordering at St. Matthews, Burnley during the 1990’s, this beautiful Baptism window (1981) by renowned 20th Century stained glass artist Harry Harvey was all but hidden from view at the rear of the church. Somewhat unceremoniously positioned around 25 feet above the foot of a staircase leading down to and overlooking the churches W.C’s, a plan was put in place to have the window removed and re-positioned within the Lady Chapel.
After months of fundraising by St. Matthews and having secured a Faculty (formal permission) to carry out the works from the Diocese, Lightworks were very pleased to be entrusted to undertake the project. This was carried out in two Phases:
Our first challenge was accessing the window internally which, given its position, was not exactly straight forward. This was achieved through the creative scaffolding efforts of Hardy Services, who provided us with a safe platform from which to work. From here the Baptism window was removed (taking the greatest of care not to damage any of the glass within – a challenge made all the more so given they do not contain sacrificial borders), and templates and measurements taken from which to produce new replacement glazing. The new replacement glazing took the form of simple rectangular leaded panels made in antique cathedral glass to which a parishioner contributed additional funds to have a border of pale amethyst glass included as a tribute to his wife Rose.
Given that Harvey’s window is less than 40 years old, its condition on removal was, as expected, very good (with the exception of requiring a thorough cleaning). However, the opening into which it would be re-located was much larger than that from which it was removed. As such, the panels needed to be extended to fit and this posed us with a number of design/structural problems to be solved; How best to divide the extended area? What glass to use? Introduce additional colour or not?
With the agreement of a significant delegation of members of the PCC who visited our studios to discuss the problems faced, we were confident our solutions could be considered as being sympathetic. In terms of dividing up the extended area it was agreed this should be done as simplistically as possible so as not to distract the eye from Harvey’s work. In terms of new glass, we decided on Antique Cathedral which, we felt contrasted very well in terms of its texture against the much less textured cylinder glass Harvey used. As for the use of colour within the extended area, we chose a subtle internal border of grey glass which can be seen in the photo above sitting directly adjacent to Harvey’s original work. While serving to “frame” the Baptism window, thereby dividing the old glass from the new, we felt the use of the grey glass accentuated the brilliant vibrancy of Harvey’s original palette very effectively.
The final stage of Phase 2 was to remove the original leaded glazing from the Lady Chapel allowing us to install the newly extended Baptism window in its place.
Harry Harvey’s Baptism window now proudly resides within its new setting for current and future generations to view and enjoy. We felt privileged indeed to have been afforded the opportunity to work on a window by a man rightly considered as one of the great modern 20th Century stained glass artists.
In a final pleasing twist; situated within the east elevation of the Lady Chapel, directly adjacent to the relocated Baptism window, can be seen a beautiful example of the work of Harry Stammers. Having worked alongside Stammers at Whippels, Harvey then served for 9 years as Stammers assistant at the newly revived York School of Glass Painting before setting up his own studio in the city.
For further reading about Harry Harvey please click here.
Our images show the extended and relocated Baptism window both before and after our works were undertaken and Harry Harvey himself at work in the studio.