31 October 2010

Credal Window

I had a look in Haddenham church, just across the county border in Buckinghamshire. As in so many English churches, there were clearly substantial survivals there of medieval glass; destruction by sixteenth century reformers, and Puritan vandalism, in my experience, undoubtedly happened, but affected quite a small part of England. Symonds' diaries, and Milles' notes, indicate how much medieval glass survived (respectively) in the 1640s and the 1740s. Most of what has since been lost simply fell victim to the decay of the centuries; in this area, for example, an 'Alderman Fletcher', who became interested in such survivals, was able to collect a vast amount of glass, much of it of fine quality, in the 1820s. Some superb panels of the martyrdom of S Thomas left his collection for the windows of Bodley; the residue he donated to Yarnton church just north of this City, where it can still be found.

What survived in many churches until the later nineteenth century tended to be gathered together by the church restorers into one or two windows, often consisting of unrelated quarries juxtaposed in patterns. At Haddenham, one window apparently contains a couple of figures of Apostles ... and a considerable amount of writing. The disjecta membra of the Apostles' Creed can easily be discerned.

Three or four years ago, in Brittany (I can't remember where; somewhere near Pontrieux), I came across a perfectly preserved late medieval window showing each of the Apostles with that clause of the Creed which, tradition held, he had contributed. Clearly, just such a window once existed at Haddenham. Does anyone know of other examples in England?

1 comment:

Allan Barton said...

I quite agree with your analysis regarding the survival of medieval glass. My understanding is that the Georgian craze for clear glass also contributed to the destruction and quite often you find medieval glass surviving only in tracery lights as a consequence of that fashion. There are quite a number of creed windows survive. One of the finest and most complete is at Norbury in Derbyshire, where the figures were originally disposed across the twelve lights of the north aisle windows against a background of the donors initials and Yorkist badges. http://medieval-church-art.blogspot.com/2008/09/feast-of-st-matthew.html

There is a single figure of James the Great not far from you at Combe. http://www.flickr.com/photos/vitrearum/269340438/

There is also a lovely set of tracery lights at Hailes in Gloucestershire: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vitrearum/212693252/