Wednesday July 06 2022



Village History

Pictures in glass

Posted on August 30 2019 at 10:08:47 0 comments


Anne Humphries, of Alvechurch Historical Society, introduces the restored windows at St Laurence.

Over the past year, much-needed restoration work has taken place at St Laurence Church, Alvechurch, partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and partly by fundraising from the congregation and parishioners.

A major focus of this work has been to restore some of the stained glass windows and surrounding stonework.

Ironically, measures taken to protect windows against vandalism in the past have been one reason for the current problems and so one element of the work has been to replace polycarbonate sheeting with stainless steel window guards.

Some windows were removed to the workshops of glass craftsman Nick Bayliss, while others were worked on in situ.

One part of the project has been research on the original glass designers and the families who funded the windows. Many of the windows were installed in the 1860s at the time of the rebuilding of the church by William Butterfield under the direction of Archdeacon Sandford, the then Rector.

They feature the work of several prominent stained glass workshops and designers – four by Frederick Preedy, three by Powell & Sons, two by William Pearce Ltd, two by Hardman & Co, two by Alexander Gibbs, one by Jones & Willis and one by Alfred Pike who had a studio at Hewell Grange.

Several are dedicated to members of local families: Florence Partridge (née Merry), Rose Sneyd Kynnersley, John Smith Gaunt (local doctor and his wife), the Milward family (Redditch needlemakers) and Harriett Ward (née Timmis) – her window is featured on The Village’s September cover.

The altar window commemorates Archdeacon Sandford and one in the south aisle is for his son Ernest who was a curate in Alvechurch, later becoming Archdeacon of Exeter.

Two windows commemorate people who had no link to Alvechurch apart from their relationship to Sandford’s second wife Anna, Lady Erskine (born Anna Cunningham-Graham).

One of the Preedy windows remembers her family members who died in military service in India (or drowned on their way home) and another is for Emma Woodmass, Anna’s sister’s stepdaughter who died of consumption in 1858 aged 15.

Three windows installed in the chancel in 1890 are dedicated to the parents of a later Rector (1887–1892), Thomas Jex-Blake and his wife Henrietta Cordery. Thomas had been headmaster of Rugby School and was later appointed Dean of Wells.

Their location within the church means these are usually less visible. All are from the workshop of Powell & Sons and one is designed by the prominent Pre-Raphaelite artist Henry Holiday.

The window in the choir vestry is unusual in that it depicts a youthful Queen Victoria and was paid for by public subscription to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It was unveiled by Lady Plymouth of Hewell Grange on October 4, 1899. Other windows take bible stories and the saints as their subjects.

The windows and their stories will be the theme of the special exhibition at this year’s Alvechurch Historical Society Open Days on September 7 and 14, from 2pm to 4.30pm at the Museum in School Lane.

The church will be open from 10am to 4pm, giving people an opportunity to see the windows in all their new glory.

Above left: Window dedicated to Florence Partridge (by Alfred Pike)

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