Stained Glass in Wales
Stained glass windows can be found in great numbers across the whole of the country, present in most communities, mainly in churches and some chapels. Although they are sometimes treasured by local communities and congregations, they are often poorly understood both art historically and theologically.
While there is an awareness of the importance of medieval glass, modern glass is frequently overlooked because of the large numbers produced after the second half of the nineteenth century. However, such work is of great value in understanding local patronage and religious history, as well as informing our understanding of the visual culture of the time and the role of artists, architects and designers in the adornment of the church.
Catrin Jones, Annunciation and Holy Family, 1983, detail, Priory Church of St David, Swansea. Photo: Martin Crampin
In the second half of the twentieth century Wales has been prominent in the production of stained glass, principally as a result of the Architectural Stained Glass Department established in Swansea.
Many of its students have gained international acclaim and some continue to be based in Wales, where their work can be found in places of worship and other kinds of public buildings.
Building on the AHRC Imaging the Bible Project, run in collaboration with the University of Wales, Lampeter (now Trinity St David), an online database of stained glass in Wales was developed and written by Martin Crampin. As part of the Imaging the Bible in Wales Project, many hundreds of stained glass windows were photographed by Martin Crampin and included on the Imaging the Bible in Wales Database, which is now available at:
In association with consultant Nigel Callaghan of Technoleg Taliesin, this database was transformed into one capable of holding multiple collections of material that could be published as distinct sites. These sites can also share common material such as artist biographies and artworks relevant to more than one collection. This facilitated a new online Stained Glass in Wales Catalogue: http://stainedglass.llgc.org.uk
Theodore Baily, The Conversion of St Illtyd, c. 1925, Priory Church of St Mary and
St Illtyd, Caldey Island.
Photo: Martin Crampin
Hundreds of additional windows have been photographed and catalogued, adding to the existing database with the help of the University of Wales Welsh Industries Fund, the Pilgrim Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Friends of Friendless Churches. The new catalogue extends the range of material to include non-biblical subjects such as Welsh saints and abstract works, as well as the inclusion of medieval glass from Wales and additional contemporary work, which were outside of the dates of the AHRC project (1825–1975). Both sites also benefit from new research by Martin Crampin attributing and dating stained glass across the country, as well as additional information about the makers responsible for the wealth of stained glass in Wales.
The Stained Glass in Wales Catalogue was launched in June 2011 at a one-day forum at Swansea Metropolitan University and St Mary's Church, Swansea. Although the project officially came to an end in October 2011, the catalogue continues to grow and comments and new material are welcomed to enable this to happen in the future.
The aims of the project were further enhanced by the publication of Stained Glass from Welsh Churches by Martin Crampin in 2014. For news of events and publications relating to the study of stained glass in Wales see https://stainedglasswales.wordpress.com