Researching medieval and 19th century stained glass to inform visitor guides, Stained Glass Centre, St. Martin-cum-Gregory

Posted on 8 October 2014

Stained Glass at St Martin-cum-Gregory

The Stained Glass Centre, based in St. Martin-cum-Gregory, York is something I have been familiar with for a number of years, having attended some of its lectures and walk around tours of York City churches. It is also something I could not have possibly missed because I am completing the Masters course in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management with the University of York, based at King’s Manor. Unfortunately however, I knew the church of St. Martin-cum-Gregory to be disused and in some ways derelict and redundant.

York Minster

The church of St. Martin-cum-Gregory on a stained glass workshop day, in which the public come and learn about the craft of stained glass.

The church has a vast space inside, little furnishings, damp and white-wash peeling off the walls. Visually the building is in a sorry state of affairs and like many churches in the country without a parish or any need for regular services it is a challenge to find an appropriate use for it in a modern society. This is where the stained glass centre comes in. The have offered the building a new use and a new lease of life, and with an investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund they were able to employ a project manager and two interns, one of which was myself, to start the ball rolling.

The centre has been running workshops, lectures and tours for a few years now, but the ambition is to open the building on a regular basis, and be a gateway to an appreciation of stained glass which the city has to offer in its many churches and in the Minster. My role in this project was to carry out research and compile information and a guide of the stained glass in the building. The stained glass itself was fascinating and being part of a wider collaboration in such an innovative project was extremely worthwhile. I researched archives; including antiquarian sources, photographs and manuscripts in order to uncover the history of the windows and took photographs of my own in the building. The work was very revealing and I uncovered a lot of information which will be used in the future of the church in visitor and volunteer guides, of which I feel very proud. I originally chose to do this internship because I am interested in all things stained glass. I felt as though this would be extremely worthwhile for my CV and I was intrigued by the nature of the project and the possibility of getting up close and personal in a building which has been closed to the public for so long, and helping its regeneration.

Stained glass Stained glass

 Looking at archival photographs for the windows and discovering some had panels in them in the middle of the twentieth century.‌‌

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Rachel Arnold

Public History Internship