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The History of Stained Glass


St Austremonius amongst the beasts of the wildStained glass refers to both coloured glass material and the works that are created using it. This hasn't always been the case as traditionally the term 'Leadlight' was employed to describe less complex work, mainly geometric shapes, and the term 'Stained Glass' referred to work which incorporated components that had been painted and kiln fired onto glass before assembly. The former was usually found in public buildings or domestic settings and the later was almost exclusively was found in religious settings.

 

As the traditional technique of hand setting glass pieces into lead cames is the same for both, over time the division became blurred and now the contemporary term 'Stained Glass' is applied to any window, sculpture or work of art created using coloured glass.

 

The earliest reliably recorded use of Stained glass in Britain dates from the 7th Century when Benedict Biscop brought in French glaziers to create the windows in his Monastery, founded AD 675.The popularity of stained glass in religious buildings was at its peak during the 11th to 16th Centuries when many of Europe's famous Cathedrals were constructed with vast and complex stained glass windows.

 

During the late 19th and early 20th Centuries there was a revival of interest in traditional Arts and Crafts. This included a new interest in creating handmade stained glass pieces for both sacred and secular spaces. 

 

Clifton Cathedral

Leaded Window - Cathedral Church SS. Peter and Paul, Bristol

In modern times the ancient craft of Stained Glass has been reinvented as 'Art Glass' and goes from strength to strength into our 21st century.

Stained Glass turns the mind by material means towards that which is above material.
Abbot Suger (St Denis, 12 Century)