Five ancient stained glass window panels have gone on display in a church near Colwyn Bay after being restored thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Fragments of five windows, dating back to the fifteenth century were found wrapped in blankets under the pulpit at St Cystennin’s Church, in Llangystennin near Mochdre and sent to Llandudno Museum for safe-keeping. Now after fund-raising by church volunteers the windows have been restored by Sandycroft based, Recclesia and returned to the church in a glass and oak display cabinet.
The panels depict St George slaying the dragon, St Nicholas, St Catherine, St Peter and the Resurrection of Christ. They will be available to the public to view on Saturday 16 September as part of a church Open Day. Copies of church records, dating back to the early 1600s will be available for people researching family history.
A grant of £9,400 was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with the church contributing a further £1,000. St Cystennin’s Church Treasurer, Margaret Hodgkiss oversaw the restoration project. She said: “I am delighted that we have been able to restore this heritage and return it to the Church. These are priceless fragments of our history which would have had pride of place, telling the Christian story, throughout the medieval period. These windows pre-date the Church itself, which was re-built in 1843 but we know there’s been a site of Christian worship here since 338AD.”
Recclesia, specialists in historic building and glass conservation, painstakingly restored the fragments of glass over several months, cataloguing each section and replacing the lead. Previous botched repairs were removed and missing sections replaced with plain green glass. Katherine Walton led the team of five glass conservers. She said: “It’s taken about five months to return these glass panels to their glory. There are still some missing sections but the detail in the glass work and painting is fabulous.”
Jamie Moore, the Managing Director of Recclesia, said: “We were delighted to be contracted to carry out this conservation work. Initially we were asked to assess the significance of the panels and wrote a letter in support of the funding bid at no charge and with no expectation of the work. This reflected our ethos and desire to conserve our heritage for the benefit, understanding, and enjoyment of generations to come.
“These are excellent examples of medieval stained glass, yet in some ways they are different from other local windows and are therefore of huge significance. The style of artwork depicting the horse of St George is similar to stained glass in Norfolk and the haloes around the heads of the saints, are different from other local depictions.
“It’s thought also that there could be a sixth panel showing the Archangel Michael with the Virgin Mary, weighing souls but so far no fragments have been found.”
North Wales has a large collection of medieval stained glass, with churches in Denbighshire and Flintshire, holding excellent examples. It’s thought the region’s distance from London helped it avoid the smashing of stained glass windows and other forms of iconography during the dissolution of the monasteries in the sixteenth century.
St Cystennin’s is a grade II listed Church in Wales Church on the cycling and walking routes between Mochdre and Glanwydden. On Saturday 16 September, it will be open from 10am – 4pm with refreshments and produce for sale.
Notes to editors
St Cystennin’s Church
The present St Cystennin’s Church in Llangystennin was built in 1843 and cost £780. It was founded on what was known as the oldest and smallest church in North Wales – the foundation stone is believed to have been laid by a Welsh Princess who married one of the Constantines. Whether this Constantine was the son of the great emperor of Rome or a Welsh Constantine is not at all certain!
Today, the church has weekly services at 9.30am and monthly services in Welsh.
Several hundred-people regular visit the church Open Day to view the parish registers which date back to 1603.
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.
Recclesia is a specialist historic building and glass conservation company based in Sandycroft near Chester. It works with conservation architects and organisations, church councils, local authorities and owners of historically significant buildings. Clients include English Heritage, Cadw, the National Trust, and a number of smaller conservation organisations and trusts. The stained-glass studio works for clients across the UK and internationally. Other in-house skills and services include stone masonry, metalwork, joinery and heritage consultancy.