Stained glass windows and the gothic revival in Nottingham
Stained glass windows have been part of church’s architecture since 7AD. But the style and skills went out of fashion after the reformation in England.
In the 19th Century, however, the practice was enthusiastically resumed as part of the Gothic Revival in architecture. Architects, designers and artists such as Pugin, Morris and Burne-Jones championed the style and craft of stained glass.
Why was the ‘gothic’ revived?
Architect Augustus Pugin aligned Gothic architecture with morality and a more pure and true life. He wrote his argument for the revival in Contrasts, in which he compared medieval architecture to 19th architecture. He themed it upon a contrast between Christianity and Utilitarianism. The medieval buildings symbolising Christianity, in which people looked after each other, and the 19th Century buildings, which championed functionality irrespective of humanitarian elements. The revival as a whole can be seen to symbolise a reaction against growing secularism and industrialism, and makes sense along other 19th Century movements that look to the past for guidance, such as the Pre-Raphaelites, and the Arts and Crafts movement.
You can see examples of Gothic Revival stained glass windows on your very own doorstep. St. Mary’s Church in the Lace Market, Nottingham, has multiple examples. Clayton and Bell designed the windows of this church. They were prolific stained glassmakers in the 19th Century, and were heavily influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Arts and Crafts Movement. They were known for the brilliant light that shone through their windows, as they copied the exact technique of medieval artisans, rather than adopting modern techniques. Their work is worldwide, including the UK, America, and Australia.
Hardman & Co also were influenced by Gothic Revival, and built the Great West window at St Mary’s, dedicated to Thomas Adams, lace manufacturer and philanthropist. They also made the windows in the Houses of Parliament, built by Pugin around the same time.
High Pavement Chapel, now Pitcher & Piano, next to Nottingham Contemporary, also has Gothic Revival influences. Built in 1876, the East Window was designed by Morris & Co, pioneers of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Have you spotted any more examples of gothic revival stained glass in Nottingham?
Look out for the signature style of;
- Brightened colours
- Romantic imagery
- Pointed arches
Making Stained Glass
The methods of making stained glass have remained unchanged since the medieval times. The designer draws out a full scale cartoon, and coloured glass is clipped and shaped to fit the design. Further detail is painted on with copper and iron oxide. The pieces are fitted together with lead, bended and shaped to fit each panel.
This video gives fascinating insight into making the glass for windows