One of Salisbury Cathedral’s magnificent stained glass windows has been restored, thanks to fundraising by its Friends association.
The money was raised at the Friends’ 2019 open gardens event and matched by the sales of paintings and a book by Salisbury Florilegium Society.
A group of the Friends visited the cathedral’s glaziers’ workshop earlier this year to learn about the restoration process.
The window, one of 12 by Clayton & Bell, was erected by ‘grateful patients and friends’ in memory of William Martin Coates in 1886.
Senior conservator Sam Kelly said water had been pouring through the window.
“When we put up the scaffolding, we discovered that the top was hanging out and could have fallen out,” he said.
During the 16th century a huge amount of glazing and blacksmithing was being done and most of the bar work of the nave windows was 16th century.
However, the bars above the 16th century ones were medieval and this explained why water was pouring in: in medieval times handmade blacksmith’s nails would have been used and when these fail, the bars that held the glass in place also fail, letting in water.
He explained that when a window is brought to the workshop, two rubbings are made of it and all the details of the work to be done are marked on the rubbings: the one on brown paper is the working document and the one on white paper is kept forever to enable future glaziers to know what materials had been used.
“After this is done, we strip the old leadwork out and re-lead,” he said.
“We take it apart and lay it out like a jigsaw. Everything has to fit to the bar work.
“It is impurities that make bars rust, so the more it is worked, the more impurities are worked out of the metal.
“Nowadays stainless steel is used – we cannot afford to have bars blacksmith-made!
“Every light has at least a couple of bars on it to hold it totally in place.”
The window was returned to the south nave aisle during March, just before the cathedral was closed to visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
1. S26, the stained glass window, which has been refurbished thanks to a grant from the Friends. Picture by Sam Kelly.
2. Glazier Tom Clarke gets to work on the restoration. Picture by Sam Kelly.