- About our windows
- Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris
- The Ascension (1885)
- The Nativity (1887)
- The Crucifixion (1887)
- The Last Judgement (1897)
- The Divine Beauty Project
- Conservation in action
My favourite thing about the windows is how they contrast with their setting. The cathedral is otherwise neutral colours and clear glass, so the windows are a vibrant shock in the relative austerity of the building and are in turn enhanced by it.David Hardie – Head of Music
About our stained-glass windows
Birmingham Cathedral is home to four exquisite stained-glass windows, designed by Pre-Raphaelite artist Edwards Burne-Jones. They are some of the finest pieces of art in the city, and considered by many to be some of the most precious stained-glass windows in the world.
The colour and manufacture of the windows was undertaken in the workshop of William Morris – who was a close friend of Burne-Jones for many years. Burne-Jones had a deep connection with St Philip’s – being baptised here and spending his childhood nearby on Bennetts Hill.
The four windows were installed over a 12 year period between 1885 and 1897 – before St Philip’s was given cathedral status. They depict four key scenes from the life of Christ – reflecting the religious beliefs of their designer. The first window to be installed was The Ascension window – showing Christ ascending into heaven forty days after Easter. Either side of this window in the chancel are windows depicting Christ’s birth through The Nativity and death through The Crucifixion. At the west end of the cathedral is a glorious window showing the final days through The Last Judgement.
Work is currently in progress to clean, repair and conserve these treasures for future generations, as part of the Divine Beauty project.
“The windows provide me with a feeling of awe, and a feeling of belonging. The windows provide four reminders of my faith. The cathedral’s side windows allow the Burne-Jones and William Morris stained glass to project into the whole building, thereby carrying four straightforward Christian stories to everyone. “Joe – volunteer
The windows are probably the cathedral’s strongest physical feature and I see them six days most weeks, so they give me a strong sense of being in a familiar safe place and that the concepts they depict are always with me. David Hardie – Head of Music
How do I feel when I look at the windows? I feel the majesty of Christ through the hues and figures of beauty made by the glass, the story of Christ, his birth, his death, his resurrection and the judgement and the forgiveness by his grace to us. As an artist, I can feel the artistry of Burne-Jones and the masterwork of William Morris. Paul Turner – volunteer
My favourite things about the windows is] The impact they have on bringing people into the Cathedral who have no original interest in the story of Christ. However, their interest in stained-glass, conservation, arts and crafts, Burne-Jones or Morris, brings them face-to-face with art that displays the Good News and Hope of the Gospels. – Mike – Head of Facilities
For me the most interesting fact about the windows is the whole story of the Burne Jones/Wm Morris co-operation , producing over 700 stained glass windows over their lifespans, and giving Birmingham Cathedral their four most admired and world famous examples.Joe – volunteer
Who was Edward Burne-Jones?
In the early 1830s Birmingham was a town of great change into which the young Burne-Jones was born. Before he was a week old his mother died and his father continued to do his best for him. Early on they lived on nearby Bennetts Hill and young Edward went to King Edward’s School, New Street. He believed he lacked a good artistic education. However a deep interest in literature and a natural artistic ability enabled him to achieve well and he went on to pursue studies at Exeter College, Oxford.
As a child Burne-Jones loved classical mythology as well as tales of native Americans and ancient Babylon and Egypt. These worlds continued to beguile him when he became an artist so that he preferred, as he said ‘to forget the world and live inside a picture’. But Burne-Jones was nothing if not complex, and his sources of inspiration were as multilayered as one of his compositions.
At Oxford, Burne-Jones met life-long friend and creative kindred spirit William Morris. Together the young men decided to devote their lives to art and their lasting influence on British art history cannot be underestimated. Burne-Jones designed and produced stained-glass, tapestries, watercolours, furniture, theatre sets, and jewellery. He exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery and became an associate of the Royal Academy in 1885.
Burne-Jones went to live and work in London after Oxford and late made his home in Rottingdean. He rekindled his relationship with his home town with commissions for the new Art Gallery and the windows at St Philip’s. He became President for the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and advised the School of Art on Margaret Street.
Burne-Jones had a strong religious faith and studied theology at Oxford, planning to become a clergyman. He went to church every Sunday as a child and Bible stories clearly took root in the fertile soil of his creative mind, as he wrote later of the Last Judgement, “though it did fill our childhood with terrors, it was an incitement to our imaginations, and there’s no telling what good there is in that”. The Last Judgement is the subject of the last stained-glass window Burne-Jones designed for Birmingham Cathedral, and it’s notable for the sheer ordinariness of its human figures and their landscape. It became characteristic of Burne-Jones to depict stories from the Bible as though they happened yesterday, in ordinary life. For him the mystery and revelation of religion was to be found everywhere, in the everyday as well as the exalted. Thus, he used his daughter Margaret as a model for the angels in Birmingham’s windows; angels were as likely to look like her as an unearthly being.
One of the major shifts in Burne-Jones’ style happened after he fell under the influence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites. Rossetti’s paintings inspired Burne-Jones to develop a new style; his compositions became more detailed and had a more defined medieval, as well as magical flavour, while his figures became flatter. The Burne-Jones dream worlds had emerged. Rossetti also changed the character of Ned (as Rossetti renamed him, shedding for ever the Birmingham Ted), giving him the confidence that he should trust his own judgement: “He taught me to have no fear or shame of my own ideas, to design perpetually, to seek no popularity, to be altogether myself.”
Rossetti was not the only artist who unlocked something within Burne-Jones. On a visit to Paris in 1855 Wiliam Morris took Ned to the Louvre to show him paintings by Fra Angelico and other Italian artists of the period. Burne-Jones, who had never seen anything like them, told his studio assistant later that the experience changed his life and showed him how he too could be a painter.
He continued to be inspired and influenced by Italian painters. In 1871 he visited Italy to see the work of Michelangelo, Botticelli and Piero della Francesca again. From this point on, the Italianate influence on Burne-Jones’ paintings and stained glass is clear. His paintings develop their peculiar, still, atmosphere, as though waiting for something to happen. Burne-Jones came to see the intense Italian blue of clothes and sky, as “the most pure and beautiful colour in all the world” and used it liberally in paintings and stained-glass. His compositions also became noticeably more dramatic and dynamic.
Burne-Jones found inspiration in obscure labyrinths of knowledge and Bible stories as well as poetry, medieval legends and the solemn beauty of Renaissance Italian paintings. He spun these diverse sources into magical dream worlds that were both odd and entirely convincing. It’s not surprising that JRR Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings and fellow King Edward’s schoolboy, was inspired by these extraordinary visions. Burne-Jones was clear about his intention, writing “I mean by a picture a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be – in a light better than any light that ever shone – in a land no one can define, or remember, only desire”. His stained-glass windows are also full of this sense of wonder and mystery, and Birmingham Cathedral’s will surely shine with “a light better than any light that ever shone” when they are unveiled after their restoration.
Burne-Jones’ and faith
It’s often tempting to see the Victorian period as one of moral and religious certainty, in contrast to our increasingly secular and fractious age. Religion certainly loomed larger in the public consciousness than today, helped by an explosion in church restoration and new builds; there were over 7,000 of each in the 1830s and 1840s, including Pugin’s masterpiece St Chad’s in Birmingham. Burne-Jones, born in 1833, grew up in this atmosphere of religious fervour.
But this glorious profusion of building masked a profoundly unsettled national mood. Darwin’s theory of evolution, the rapid spread of industrialisation and the increasing speed of scientific advances all conspired to create a crisis of faith expressed most clearly by artists and poets but felt at all levels of society. Even Tom Brown, whose eponymous Schooldays were such a symbol of wholesome Victorian boyhood, went through “perplexities and doubts and dreams and struggles.”
Burne-Jones, a sensitive young man with a strong Christian faith, was bound to be strongly affected by the turbulent religious atmosphere of the time. Though baptised in St Philip’s in Birmingham his father later bought a family pew in the more evangelical St Mary’s. However young Ted (he didn’t become Ned until he went to Oxford) visited Hereford Cathedral in 1849 where his imagination was captured by the Reverend John Goss, a follower of the notorious Oxford Movement.
Though it may now seem a historical oddity, the Oxford Movement had a profound effect on Victorian religion in the 1830s and 40s. Started in Oxford by three leading churchmen and university fellows (including John Henry Newman) in 1833, it demanded a new interpretation of the Thirty-Nine Articles and a restoration of the ritual and ceremony of the early church, with a renewed emphasis on the central sacrament of the mass. Anti-Catholic laws, in place since the Reformation, had only been repealed at the end of the 1820s, and Catholicism was still viewed with distrust by many, so the Oxford Movement’s sense of connection to ancient tradition and the sacraments meant that they were perceived as dangerous radicals. Everyone’s suspicions were confirmed when Newman was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1845.
Burne-Jones not only responded to the mystery and ceremony of the High Church rituals of the Oxford Movement, but also to Newman’s personal doctrine of austerity. He later suggested that it was Newman who had inspired his own indifference to money or luxury or any other temptations in the “world’s trumpery treasure house”. Newman was appointed Superior of the new Birmingham Oratory and young Ted walked miles to hear him preach, writing later “Wherever he had told me to go then I would have gone. Lord! What a wheyfaced maniac I was.”
At this stage Burne-Jones was still intending to enter the church and had no thought of a career as an artist. This continued after he met William Morris at Oxford; the two shared similar religious convictions and even thought of founding a monastery together. But gradually his focus shifted and widened until he and Morris made the painful decision in 1855 to devote themselves to art rather than the church.
Though Burne-Jones rejected the clerical life in favour of art, his work is suffused by a strong sense of religious belief. He carefully avoided all questions about his religious affiliations so it’s impossible to know which particular branch of Christianity called to him most strongly. He once mischievously exclaimed “Belong to the Church of England? Put your head in a bag!” Georgie wrote in her posthumous biography of her husband Memorials that when asked about his religion, he quoted words of a Samoan chief: “we know that at night someone goes by among the trees, but we never speak of it”. We must be content with the sense of mystery and wonder that all of us, of any faith or none, are inspired by when looking at one of Burne-Jones’s works.
Who was William Morris?
You probably know something about William Morris; you might have something in your home that bears one of the patterns he designed – a mug, a notebook, even wallpaper or curtains. You may know that he said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be beautiful or believe to be useful.” So far, so predictable. But come with me beyond the Wikipedia entry and discover the man behind the myth. For his designs may be a byword for restrained good taste now, but at the time Morris’s ideas and designs were viewed as revolutionary.
Morris had a conventional start in life; he was born into a prosperous family in London in 1834. At Oxford he met Burne-Jones and the two instantly became friends, bonded by a shared love of Anglo-Catholicism, Arthurian legends and Shakespeare. Morris was a man of passions, including church architecture, embroidery and medievalism, which would become a central motif of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He had a fearsome temper, and many accounts survive in his friends’ letters of the short, portly Morris with his mop of curly hair stamping around a room in a temper.
Morris worked best in the companionship of other like-minded people and after Oxford became part of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of painters and poets which included Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt. The Pre-Raphaelites disliked modern fashionable artists such as Sir Joshua Reynolds and were instead inspired by the colours, detail and intensity of Italian art of the 1400s. One of Rossetti’s models was the beautiful Jane Burden, with whom Morris fell deeply in love; the story goes that he was too shy to declare himself so, while painting her portrait, wrote on the canvas “I cannot paint you but I love you.” It clearly worked because they married in 1859. Janey played an important role in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and was an accomplished artist in her own right, becoming an expert embroiderer.
In 1861 Morris founded the company that would become Morris & Co, with Burne-Jones as one of the partners. The aim was to provide furniture and furnishings produced using techniques as close as possible to traditional hand craftsmanship, in reaction to the increasing mechanisation and industrialisation of the Victorian period. The company also capitalised on the fashion for stained glass by offering a design and making service for private houses and churches. Morris’ father was in business and he had a strong commercial sense, making him unusual amongst designers and enabling him to build Morris & Co into a company that changed the face of Victorian interiors.
Morris had always been fascinated by architecture, though after an unhappy period working with a church architect in Oxford after he graduated, recognised that his own talents lay elsewhere. So he asked his friend and fellow partner in Morris & Co, Philip Webb, to design The Red House in Kent, with a steep roof and turrets, which Edward Burne-Jones called “the beautifullest place on Earth.” Later he lived at Kelmscott Manor, and both houses were filled with a constantly changing variety of tapestries, furniture, paintings, murals and embroideries by Morris, his family and friends.
Morris was a man of extraordinary energies and talents. As well as a designer he was a poet, fantasy writer and social activist. Though little read now, his poetry was celebrated in his lifetime and his Utopian novel “News from Nowhere” had a profound influence on later fantasy and science fiction writers.
All polymaths are inevitably reduced to less than the sum of their parts and Morris, along with other giants of the nineteenth century such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, has certainly suffered that fate. But it’s hard to feel that the man who found such delight in colour and pattern, and for whom the imaginative and spiritual life was so central, would mind that Birmingham Cathedral’s windows are one of his greatest memorials.
Morris and Burne-Jones’ friendship
At the end of his life Edward Burne-Jones wrote that “[William] Morris’s friendship began everything for me; everything that I afterwards cared for.” The two men shared a deep religious faith and an abiding love for all things medieval, but their upbringings, personalities, and even appearances, were wildly different. So what was it that drew this odd couple together, and kept their lifelong friendship alive?
In spite of the disparity in their social backgrounds the two men discovered an instant shared religious faith as well as an ambition to become clergymen. John Henry Newman and the Oxford Movement had drawn them to the city and they planned seriously to found a monastery, and both at one point also considered converting to Catholicism.
There were also intellectual bonds between the two. On arriving at Oxford they discovered a shared love of Tennyson, and Morris (who loved to read out loud) would read “The Lady of Shalott” to Burne-Jones (who loved to be read to) and the rest of the Birmingham Set, the group of friends, mostly from Birmingham, who later played an important role in the Arts and Crafts movement. Both were also already committed medievalists, steeped in the Arthurian legends which would prove to be such a fertile source for their future work.
Many accounts exist of Morris and Burne-Jones at Oxford. They were a gift to the caricaturist: Burne-Jones was tall, thin and often looked sickly while Morris was much shorter, increasingly portly and with wild curly hair and a unique stomping walk. In addition the two often wore matching purple trousers – it’s not surprising they caused such a stir.
Morris already had a sophisticated aesthetic sense and had been fascinated by medieval art since he was a child; when he was a small boy his indulgent parents had a tiny suit of armour made for him to wear when riding his pony. At Oxford he and Burne-Jones spent hours with the Bodleian Library’s manuscripts and wandering the streets looking at old buildings. The colours, shapes and design details seeped into their work, but the ideals of the medieval craftsman also became the philosophical basis for the Arts and Crafts movement.
By the time they left Oxford Morris and Burne-Jones had both decided not to become clergymen, but instead to devote their lives to art. After their respective marriages – Morris to Jane Burden in 1859 and Burne-Jones to Georgie Macdonald in 1861 – the couples became great friends and spent riotous weekends at the Morris home The Red House, playing hide and seek and picking apples in the orchard. The families were further linked by their joint stake in Morris & Co, of which Burne-Jones was a founding partner. When children arrived the families remained close, with Morris, for instance, reading poetry to the Burne-Jones children in their nursery while sitting astride a rocking-horse.
Morris and Burne-Jones were both extraordinarily talented and were each amongst the very best in their field. But together a kind of alchemy happened, each feeding the other intellectually, spiritually and aesthetically, so that when they worked on joint projects, such as Birmingham Cathedral’s stained-glass windows, a kind of soaring artistic exultation was achieved. Burne-Jones recognised this, writing to his friend Crom Price “he has tinged my whole inner being with the beauty of his own, and I know not a single gift for which I owe such gratitude to Heaven as his friendship.” The story of that friendship is one more to add to the many that the Cathedral’s windows already have to tell.
The women in Morris and Burne-Jones’ lives
William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones were devoted lifelong friends and collaborators in both art and business. Their private lives were also intertwined and grew to be as complicated as one of Morris’s intricate wallpaper designs.
Everything started out simply enough. Burne-Jones fell in love first, meeting Georgiana MacDonald (known as Georgie) in 1856, when he was 23 and she was 15. She was the daughter of a Birmingham Methodist minister and the MacDonald family – Georgie had seven siblings – kept a jolly household which made an attractive contrast to the cheerless Burne-Jones home. During the four long years of their engagement Ned went away to Oxford and Georgie studied art at the Government School of Design. When they married in 1860 they had only scraped together £30 and a deal table containing Georgie’s engraving tools, but they couldn’t wait any longer.
A year after Burne-Jones met Georgie, Morris fell in love with Jane Burden. She was the 17-year-old daughter of an Oxford stableman whom the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti had spotted in the audience at the theatre in Oxford. He asked her to model for him
and she then also began to sit for Morris. Morris was smitten but too shy to declare himself, and the story goes that he wrote on the back of the canvas “I cannot paint you, but I love you”. They became engaged, though Jane admitted she was not in love with Morris, and married in 1859.
The early years of both marriages were idyllic. The two couples were great friends and spent uproarious weekends at the Morris home The Red House playing hide and seek and picking apples in the orchard as well as working together on ambitious decorating projects. The firm that would become Morris & Co was founded in 1861 and both women were involved; Georgie painted tiles and Jane directed the embroidery arm of the business. Georgie’s involvement ended when she gave birth to her first son, Philip, as Victorian mothers were expected to devote all their energies to their children. Georgie and Ned would have two more children, Christopher and Margaret, though Christopher was born prematurely and died soon after birth. Ned was by all accounts a devoted father and used Margaret as a model for the angels in Birmingham Cathedral’s stained-glass windows.
Jane and William Morris also had children – daughters Jenny and Mary, known as May. May learned embroidery from her mother and became one of the most influential figures in the field. She took over the Morris & Co embroidery department from Jane and was later involved with what would become the Royal School of Needlework.
While their work and families continued to flourish, Morris and Burne-Jones’ relationships with their wives were less satisfactory. Burne-Jones carried on a long affair with his troubled model Maria Zambaco. After her tragic suicide attempt the heroic Georgie forgave him and nursed him through his subsequent physical and emotional collapse, writing “I know one thing, and that is that there is love enough between Edward and me to last out a long life if it is given to us.” Perhaps it was this extraordinary display of selflessness that made Morris finally fall in love with her after years of platonic friendship, or perhaps it was the fact that Jane Morris had been drawn back into the arms of Rossetti after the tragic death of his wife Elizabeth Siddal. No-one knows what happened between Georgie and Morris, but Georgie destroyed all his letters to her from this period.
Georgie Burne-Jones and Jane Morris were both artistically talented women in their own right, and had they lived even fifty years later their talents might have been recognised, as were those of Jane’s daughter May. As it is it’s impossible, particularly in the case of the selfless Georgie, to wonder what she might have become had she not had to devote so much of her energy to supporting her husband.
The Arts and Crafts Movement
The Arts and Crafts movement was so influential that by the end of the nineteenth century nearly every British middle-class home contained some kind of decoration inspired by it. “Arts and Crafts” may sound vague, but the movement had a clearly defined philosophy and its aesthetic is instantly recognisable. It also subsequently spread across Europe and America, making it one of Britain’s most important contributions to international design.
The term “Arts and Crafts” was first used by artist and bookbinder TJ Cobden-Sanderson at a meeting of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1887, though the style, and the principles which inspired it, had been developing since the 1860s. William Morris, art critic John Ruskin and historian Thomas Carlyle were influential in its beginnings. Morris and Ruskin believed that modern methods of production should be a reaction to what they saw as the harshness of late nineteenth century industrialism; the creation of hand-made goods should take the place of machine uniformity.
Morris and others also believed that goods made by factory processes were of inferior quality, and that this was clearly demonstrated in The Great Exhibition of 1851. Six million Victorians (then a third of Britain’s population) visited the Exhibition, housed in Joseph Paxton’s giant, glittering Crystal Palace, to see examples of the newest technology and design. But for Morris and the rest of the Arts and Crafts movement these technologically advanced goods were unnecessarily ornate and somehow dishonest, because they were not true to the qualities of the materials used to make them.
While there was no one identifiable Arts and Crafts style, there were some common design factors. Form and shape were usually simple and pragmatic, made to suit the item’s purpose, sometimes with a hint of the medieval. Materials were hand-made and hand-decorated and colours could be bright but not lurid. Pattern was often inspired by British plants or animals.
The Arts and Crafts movement, then, sought to reform both manufacture and design. The desire to abolish the divisions between art and industry and between art and craft drove Morris to found Morris & Co, where artists such as Edward Burne-Jones created designs for tapestries and stained-glass windows, and Morris himself designed commercially successful wallpapers and textiles. A central argument of the Arts and Crafts movement was that separating the intellectual act of design from the physical act of creation was damaging to society. As Morris put it, “without dignified, creative human occupation people became disconnected from life”.
One of the reasons that the Arts and Crafts movement was so influential was that it was accessible to amateur enthusiasts and professional craftsmen alike. Craft guilds of professionals were formed, such as the Guild of Handicrafts in Chipping Campden and Eric Gill’s community in Ditchling, Sussex. These craftsmen and their families lived and worked together and often taught craft skills to locals. Home hobbyists also embraced the Arts and Crafts aesthetic.
By 1920 the Arts and Crafts movement had encompassed architecture, furniture, book illustration, ceramics, fashion, and jewellery. For forty years it was the dominant aesthetic of the British thinking classes and spread throughout Europe and North America. The shiny gewgaws of The Great Exhibition may not have lasted, but the honest simplicity of the Arts and Crafts movement has certainly stood the test of time.
The Ascension window
The Ascension window depicts Jesus parting with his followers and ascending into heaven forty days after Easter. It was installed in 1885 and was intended to be the only stained-glass window in the Cathedral. Inspired by it’s beauty, Burne-Jones subsequently decided to design two more shortly afterwards.
See a 3D model of the window
My favourite thing about the windows is ‘The Nativity’ of Burne-Jones and it is magical Christmas timing. With the sheep behind the man-made brick cave and the shepherds looking nightward to the crimson-hued angels proclaiming Jesus’ birth floating above a giant forest. Which could have been a future thought to ‘The garden of Gethsemane’; and the shepherds dressed in gold for one of the gifts, scarlet for Frankincense and blue for Myrrh perhaps. Burne-Jones and William Morris must have worked out, when the sun near Christmas lights up the window just before Advent-time. Mary herself dressed in blue looking down at Jesus with a crimson halo, and the multi-hued angels bowing to the heavenly saviour lying wrapped in the crib on the stone floor, the rock foundation of his churchCongregation member – 2023
The Nativity window
The Nativity window depicts the birth of Jesus. This is positioned opposite The Crucifixion window in the cathedral. This positioning highlights the contrast and anguish of the two events.
Wealthy Birmingham resident and congregation member, Emma Chadwick Villers-Wilkes paid for both these windows in memory of her late brother. She specifically requested that there should be no oxen in the Nativity scene, as she considered them to be ‘too brutish’.
Explore a 3D model of the window
My favourite window is the Crucifixion window because of all the stories depicted, it is the one with the strongest historical evidence of what it might look like, so it feels very real.David Hardie – Head of Music
The Crucifixion window
The Crucifixion window depicts the death of Jesus and is opposite The Nativity window in the cathedral. This highlights the contrast and anguish of the two events. Wealthy Birmingham resident and cathedral congregation member ,Emma Chadwick Villers-Wilkes paid for both these windows in memory of her late brother. She requested that there should be no blood in the scene of Christ’s death.
Explore of 3D model of the window
The central angel blowing their trumpet seems to have no air of drama; the seated Christ, too, is calm and relaxed rather than triumphant or vengeful. Composers often like to portray the Last Judgement as little short of God throwing a violent tantrum; by contrast I think Burne-Jones wants us to understand that the chaos and despair would be – as it is now – of human origin.David – Lay Clerk
The Last Judgement window
The Last Judgement (1897), is widely recognised as the finest example of Burne-Jones’ work, depicting the return of Christ and his judgement on humanity. The window was a memorial to the Bishop Bowlby of Coventry who was Rector of St Philip’s from 1875 to 1894.
There are meticulous details such as the elaborate gold crown worn by the figure clothed in red on the right of the window. The angels hold a range of beautifully intricate objects such as the leather-bound Book of Judgement and the key to the gates of heaven.
Explore a 3D model of the window
The Divine Beauty Project
The windows were removed for safekeeping in 1939 courtesy of Birmingham Civic Society, and placed in a slate mine in Wales for safekeeping. It is now the duty of this generation to ensure they are preserved and recognised for the future.
Initial funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund enabled a detailed investigation of the condition of the windows to take place. Unfortunately, this work uncovered significant damaged in a number of places, including portions of glazing that were missing or cracked. The next phase of the Divine Beauty project will see the restoration of the windows, and we have secured a further £641,200 in National Lottery Heritage funding to go towards this vital conservation, due to begin in 2023.
Work will take place to remove a substantial build up of debris and to repair areas of cracking, failed leading and paint loss. Visitors will be able to see this work as it happens from an accessible platform. The installation of new protective grilles will also be completed on all four windows.
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