Monday, April 27, 2009

Question from Mindy - Windows in St. Mary's Church at Sudeley

I am sorry if this has been asked before, but I was looking at Lara's pictures of St. Mary's church where Katherine Parr was entombed. And as I am looking I realize that the stained glass windows are copies of known portraits of Edward, Henry and Elizabeth. There is a stained glass window of Jane Grey, and of Katherine Parr of course. So now to the question, when were the windows put in, did they take copies of known (at the time) portraits of Jane Grey, and Katherine Parr, and could that help to identify unknown pictures of Jane Grey and Katherine Parr? Especially ones there are confusion about?

[Ed. note - here is a link to the photos: ]


Lara said...

Unfortunately I don't know much about the history of the windows, but I think someone sent me an email with some info about them a while back. I'll take a look and post anything I find.

PhD Historian said...

While Lara looks for her information, I am going to take an educated guess and say that the windows are almost certainly from the 19th century. Stain glass windows were very much out of favor, on religious grounds, during the period of the British Civil Wars and the Crowmwellian Protectorate (1640s and 1650s). Many churches had their windows smashed because they were considered "icons" and too nearly like Roman Catholic practices. This website even notes that St Mary's Church at Sudeley was one of those damaged.

But stained glass windows enjoyed a huge revival in the 19th and very early 20th century, and historical subjects with little religious connotation were favorites. Sir Gilbert Scott, architect of St Pancras Station in London and the Prince Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, reportedly refurbished St Mary's in the 1850s, and I would bet that the windows were added at that time.

The windows themselves are historically inaccurate. The one depicting Jane Grey appears to have been based in part on the Wrest Park Portrait, but that portrait dates to the 1530s or 1540s when Jane was a mere child (and is certainly not a portrait of Jane). The window of Henry VIII appears to be loosely based on the Holbein Cartoon for Whitehall Palace, but the mutton-chop beard is a distinctly 19th century style. Parr's window has vague similarities to the NPG portrait once thought to depict Jane Grey, but again the details are wrong.

Again an educated guess, but I would bet that the windows are based only very loosely on known portraits of many Tudor-era figures, with certain features emphasized to distinguish an individual, e.g, Henry's wide stance and large girth. Sadly, windows created in the modern era are very unlikely to assist u sin identifying "lost" portraits.

Diane said...

In both Antonia Fraser's and Alison Weir's books on the six wives it is stated that the chapel and tomb where Catherine was buried were vandalized and eventually fell into ruin. Catherine's grave became unknown. But in 1782 her coffin was discovered and opened. She was reburied upside down because the workmen were drunk. During the reign of Queen Victoria the chapel was restored and Catherine was placed in a new tomb designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. Her effigy was based on engravings of her original tomb and the stained glass windows were based on portraits of the subjects. The tomb was completed in 1862.

Lara said...

No luck in my email, but some were lost when I changed programs a while back. Although that is an important enough one that I might have saved it somewhere else. I'll keep looking!