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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.99

Stationers Hall

Restoration, Conservation and preservation are intrinsically linked and it is not often the 3 are employed separately.

Faced with a broken piece of stained glass can involve several methods of treatment:-

• To retain as much of the original glass as possible (conservation)
• To replace any missing fragments that are either too many and too small to make viable repairs with or to replace the entire piece (restoration)
• To protect from future harm all the collected fragments once a cohesive piece has been made from them (preservation)

A set of 5 stunning windows made by Mayer & Co. of London and Munich in the 1860’s had suffered some damage, but mostly a thick coating of soot from a fire in a nearby wooden screen. The windows depict the relevant greats of the age such as Tyndale and William Shakespeare; the main window depicting Caxton presenting his new printing press to the King.


A missing fragment requires replacement


The new piece is painted and edge-bonded together with the remaining fragments


All pieces must be flush on the back to allow for a back-plate to sit flat against the repaired piece 


Once fitted back in position, the repair work is visually lost amongst the decorative details

Although on a small scale, these fragment replacements are imperative to the ‘legibility’ of the window’s design. Modern resins and methods have enabled the eradication of myriad straps of lead to hold together small fragments of glass. New inserts (as seen above) can be carefully cut and painted to fill the missing gaps which, from the distance most windows are viewed, are lost to the eye amongst all the detail of the design as a whole.
This edge-bonded piece was back-plated with 1mm float glass and sealed round the edges with acid-free silicone before reinstatement into the window.


A wipe of the cloth shows how much dirt can dull the colours of a window




Inferior restoration work

Unfortunately, not all restoration is good restoration. As we can see from this image of the 2 heads of the King and Queen, the Queen’s head has been replaced with a new piece of glass painted by an inferior hand, which sits uncomfortably next to the superb work of the Mayer & Co painter’s handiwork. This is why it is important not to accept the cheapest price for such work – do so at your peril !!!

Work carried out by Susan McCarthy, Auravisions