Posted by: Glassartist | October 5, 2009

English Stained Glass – Ancient and Modern

English Stained Glass

English naturalist Gilbert White memorial stained glass window, Selborne, Hampshire, UK

English naturalist Gilbert White memorial stained glass window, Selborne, Hampshire, UK

Memorial window to the celebrated English naturalist Gilbert White at St Mary’s Church, Selborne. Featured in several international magazines and books, it has been described as:

“One of the loveliest of 20th Century windows….”

Simon Jenkins, ‘England’s Thousand Best Churches.’

By Glass artist Jude Tarrant AMGP, Sunrise Stained Glass, commissioned in 1993.

History of Stained Glass

The history of coloured glass dates back to the Egyptian times and the earliest known surviving coloured glass window in England was discovered in Jarrow in Northumberland UK and dates from the 9th Century AD.

The materials and tools used in the making of traditional stained glass windows have actually changed very little over the centuries. Where glaziers once used a hot iron to break the glass apart we now use a steel-wheeled glass cutter, and where the glass was fired in solid fuel kilns we now use gas or electric kilns and soldering irons.

Medieval English Stained Glass

We have a great wealth of fine medieval stained glass windows across England and the U.K. The prosperity of the wool trade in the 15th Century led to many beautiful windows being installed in small parish churches throughout the counties of England. The windows of the medieval period were often used as ‘poor man’s Bible’ telling the stories of the Old and New Testaments in colourful detail at a time when very few people were literate. Wealthy landowners marked their success by donations of stained glass to the church, and pilgrims to the Christian holy places in England gave much wealth to dioceses such as Canterbury.

Sunrise Stained Glass Ltd has skilfully designed and painted a number of new stained glass windows for the Elizabethan Priory ‘Flowton Manor‘ in Hertfordshire to complement existing medieval stained glass in the building, and other early English glass in heraldic styles.

Cardinal Shield window

Cardinal Shield window by Sunrise Stained Glass

Heraldic English stained glass window

Heraldic English Tudor Rose stained glass window

There was a period of decline after the Protestant Reformation and the iconoclasm of the times caused the destruction and defacing of much of this earlier English stained glass, and by the 17th and 18th centuries many of the skills and secrets of these earlier craftsmen had been lost entirely.

Stained Glass Revival

It was not until the Gothic Revival and the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 19th century that these skills were re-discovered and stained glass in England began a great revival. To satisfy the growing demand for windows to adorn the newly built churches of the Victorian era workshops grew and flourished, often adopting a division of labour and mass-production type methods on the scale of a small factory to cope with the demands of this stained glass revival across the country, mostly in the towns and suburbs springing up around the new industrial centres. The resurgence of the ‘designer-craftsman’ involved in all aspects of producing a window made a shift away from these hierarchical factory style methods. William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones created much beautiful glass, and followed by Christopher Whall and a new generation of stained glass artists, English stained glass found new methods of expression and style.

Sunrise Stained Glass carries out many conservation projects on historic windows. One such project recently conserved and successfully re-sited was a large window by Christopher Whall removed from Woolwich Barracks, London in to a new home in a custom made light box mounted to the interior wall of the Regimental Church at Larkhill, Wiltshire. This large five light tracery window and another Victorian traceried window of similar size also from the old Woolwich Barracks church, were fully restored in the studio prior to the mounting of the windows in the new light boxes.

Stained Glass and Modern Design

Despite the economic decline following the two World Wars and the closure of many of the larger stained glass workshops, the skills of these masters continue to be practised today and are now making use of new technological processes which have widened the scope of artists in achievable design and scale. Large areas of colour can now be applied to float glass with enamels and fired in kilns which can bend and shape the glass sheets. Bonded to toughened glass suspended on wire supports and freed of the constraints of a lead matrix and the necessity to form an integral part of the buildings structure, stained glass design can be fluid and dynamic, seemingly only limited by the imagination of the artist.

Using the best of traditional methods with a modern perspective on design our team at Sunrise Stained Glass can supply stained glass windows in a variety of styles, figurative or abstract.  See our Gallery of stained glass.

See the ‘Stained Glass Museum’ at Ely:

The William Morris Gallery:

Worshipful Company of Glaziers:

British Society of Master Glass Painters:

And for a comprehensive list of notable English stained glass in your area the book by Simon Jenkins ‘England’s Thousand Best Churches’.

Posted by: Glassartist | June 26, 2009

Contemporary stained glass unveiled by Bishop

St John’s School, Leatherhead, Surrey UK




The new contemporary stained glass window for St John’s School Chapel has been unveiled.


The dedication sermon for the new stained glass commission was given by Rt Revd Ian Brackley, the Bishop of Dorking. He describes the contemporary stained glass window as “startling, dramatic and colourful.  It is also strong in symbolic depiction”.


Contemporary Stained Glass East Window Dedication at St John's School Chapel

The Bishop joined pupils, the school chaplain Revd Clive Case, the Headmaster Nicholas Haddock MBE, and parents at a choral evensong where the window was unveiled in a service held to celebrate the foundation of the school….“the energy and vibrancy of the new window inspires us to look beyond ourselves and seek those things which are above”. The window includes symbolism of the Eagle of St John the Evangelist and Apostle and of the Eucharist, wine and corn.

 The Bishop offered this apt quotation by the early 17th century priest and poet George Herbert:

 A man that looks on glass,

On it may stay his eye;

Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,

And then the heaven espy.

The large 6M x 6M apex window is comprised of 37 sections of single-glazed leaded panels.  The design is executed in acided flashed antique glass and uses streaky and single pot colour hand-made antique glass with kiln – fired traditional oxide pigments and silver stain.

The design depicts a central Golden Eagle which is soaring upwards and symbolises St John the Evangelist and Apostle, because of his ‘lofty and soaring’ gospel.  It is also symbolic of the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and of baptised Christians who have symbolically died and risen with Christ.  The Eagle of St John is the school emblem.

The Eagle rises from the image of a palm frond, recalling Jesus’s Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem before the Last Supper and Passion. Below are the symbols of that feast and of the Eucharist, the wine and corn.  The palm of victory and the Eagle move up towards the Holy Spirit in the apex of the window, which is descending as a blessing.


Eagle of St John


Bishop Ian Brackley commented “Light, colour, shape, design all transformed by the alchemy of kiln firing as stained glass into a wonderful and arresting kaleidoscope of images.  The eagle, symbol of St John the Evangelist, as alluded to in our second Reading from the Book of Revelation, where the four creatures surrounding God’s throne were soon to be identified with the four canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the eagle soars upwards to meet the fiery Holy Spirit of God’s inspiration depicted by the descending dove at the top.  The soaring upwards might also reflect the school motto from St Paul’s writings, “Seek those things that are above”.  This window is something for the eye and the imagination.  “A man that looks on glass, on it may stay his eye; or, if he pleaseth, through it pass, and then the heaven espy.” There is more than meets the eye.  Like all good art, there is more always to be discovered, more to be understood, more to be grasped and explored by the beholder……”

 For more photos on this new stained glass window commission see Flickr:

Posted by: Glassartist | June 8, 2009

Stained Glass Window Restoration

Restoration of Stained Glass Windows

  Sunrise Stained Glass studio has been involved in the conservation, restoration, and protection of the stained glass windows of many historic buildings in Britain, however the largest of these projects has been at Chichester Cathedral West Sussex, UK. 

Stained glass angel from Chichester Cathedral

 The cathedral at Chichester in West Sussex was founded in 1075 and is in the Early English (Early Gothic) style with Romanesque (Norman) arcades.  Although little medieval stained glass survived the Protestant Reformation there is some fine Victorian stained glass, notably the Lady Chapel windows by Clayton & Bell of 1882.  A window by the modern artist Marc Chagall is adjacent to the Lady Chapel. 

North Transept of Chichester Cathedral under restoration


 Work has progressed around the Cathedral over a twenty year period, starting in the North Transept where the large leaded windows were removed from the masonry, dismantled, cleaned and releaded and refitted with new ferramenta (this is the metal support framework set in to the masonry).  Since then the towers (Chichester is the only cathedral to have a separate bell tower, like a campanile), West Window, South Aisle and Clerestory windows have all been restored, and the great stained glass window of the South Transept.   

South Transept Chichester Cathedral restored by Sunrise Stained Glass


Restoration work was recently completed to the Lady Chapel, adjacent to the North Transept where our work originally began two decades ago.

 Many of the windows in our local churches and cathedrals have been subject to centuries of weather damage by storm, frost, sun and more recently atmospheric pollution from industrial processes.  Religious conflicts have caused the destruction of many fine windows and also the removal of genuine medieval glass by Victorian architects and glaziers to make way for glass in the ‘new style’ of Neo-Gothic.  Recent wars have also taken their toll, and vandalism is a modern day threat to windows of all kinds.  Even poor standards of previous repairs have caused damage to many fine windows.  

 The complexity of the causes of deterioration of historic stained glass windows and the range of suitable methods and approaches to their conservation and restoration calls for the highest standards of craftsmanship and experience.  

Within the Anglican Church the local Diocesan Advisory Council will be able to make suitable recommendations, also the Council for the Care of Churches, English Heritage, Ecclesiastical Insurers and many local authorities hold a directory of approved contractors.

 At Sunrise Stained Glass Ltd. we have a continuous program of restoration and repairs to many churches, cathedrals and chapels and other public buildings throughout the south and west of England and home counties, details of which may be found on our main website and if you would like to discuss a restoration project with us then please telephone John Tarrant on +44 (0)23 9275 0512.

Antique Glass is a beautiful material for the stained glass artist

Antique glass refers mostly to the process of flat glass production by the traditional mouth-blown method and is the best for making quality stained glass windows.  To see how this glass has been used in many different ways in our stained glass window commissions please visit our gallery and portfolio and look at some of the detail photographs of our work.

Its apparent “imperfections” – bubbles and reams – cause movement when looking through the glass, giving slight distortions to the transmitted light. Each piece is unique and the thickness of glass will vary considerably from sheet to sheet as well as within each sheet. The density of colour will also therefore vary, a pleasing additional bonus to the lively visual character of this type of glass.

How antique glass is made

The molten glass is gathered from the pot on the glass-blowers hollow pipe called a punty. Usually one colour is blown at a time; however dips into different pots of colour can incorporate many colours in one sheet by careful manipulation of the molten glass.

As air fills the balloon of glass on the punty it is swung and shaped until it forms a long cylinder, and when it has reached the intended size and whilst still fluid it is cut from the rod. The ends are removed, and a transverse score is made along the cooled cylinder. The glass is re-heated and opened out in a kiln called a’lehr’ and flattened out into a sheet. Once the stress has been released from the glass by careful controlled cooling through a specific temperature range (called ‘annealing’) it is ready to be cut and glazed into stained glass windows.

This antique ‘muff’ or ‘cylinder glass’ includes hundreds of colours either in beautiful single colour sheets and also two or more combinations as ‘streaky’ glass.

In addition there are ‘flashed’ glass combinations where a thin layer of top colour is applied to another colour glass, enabling etching and engraving to reveal both colours in the one piece. The density of colour on each sheet may vary from one end of the glass to the other.

Flashed glass utilises a technique of blowing a cylinder of glass with two or more layers of different colours. The base glass, which may be coloured or clear, has a thin layer of a different colour spread across the sheets and the surface colour may then be etched, sandblasted away or wheel-engraved to reveal the base colour underneath, either in ‘colour wash’ effect, or to a particular design.

As the methods of antique glass production have changed very little over the centuries we can often replace broken antique glass in historic windows with newly made antique glass which is indistinguishable from the original. Damaged stained glass windows require the careful matching of colour and type of glass and a skilled restorer needs a very large pool of glass to achieve a perfect match.

Restoration Glass

In historic buildings and Grade 1 and 2 listed properties modern float window glass should be replaced with a suitable ‘restoration glass’ such as a full antique plain sheet. This is also often chosen for the sensitive restoration of clock face glass, and antique picture frames and furniture.

The art of making antique glass is still practised in the U.K., but most glass in use in stained glass studios for new stained glass window commissions and for stained glass church window restoration is imported from France (St Just), Germany (Lamberts) and Poland (Tatra).


For more information on this type of glass and hand-spun coloured roundels and bullions, please contact us for more details or a quotation.

Ask for John Tarrant on 023 92750512 or email us: for more details and prices of antique glass sheet, or for more information on commissioning a stained glass window using this beautiful antique glass.

Sunrise Stained Glass studio has completed many commissions of new contemporary windows throughout the UK, and was invited to design and install a new stained glass window in an ancient church in an area of Wiltshire with a fascinating history and in an area of great natural beauty.

Ancient sites in Wiltshire include Stonehenge, Silbury Hill and Old Sarum. The beautiful open countryside of Wiltshire is characterised by the ancient high level trackway called ‘The Ridgeway’ and which overlooks Wiltshire’s woodland and forests such as Severnake Forest, present day reminders of the county’s feudal past.  Described as Britain’s Oldest Road, the Ridgeway is a 85 mile (137km) route that follows the chalk hills between Overton Hill, near Avebury and Ivinghoe Beacon in Hertfordshire. The route has been in constant use for 4000 years and some believe it continued beyond Wiltshire, heading south into Dorset and on to the coast. The route was used by prehistoric man and has been described by some as being as important as today’s modern roads. The Wiltshire stretch of the Ridgeway is the most remote section of the entire route and runs along the ridge of archaeologically rich downland between Overton Hill and Uffington White Horse, on the Oxfordshire borders.

The Ridgeway, Wiltshire

Many observers have noted the proximity of the Ridgeway with the rash of crop circles that have emerged in the countryside alongside the route and argue that this connection, coupled with the nearness of ancient sites, such as Avebury and The Sanctuary, proves the significance of The Ridgeway as a way of connecting these important religious sites.


To commemorate the end of the second Christian Millennium and the beginning of the third, a new stained glass window was installed in Chiseldon’s historic parish church, the Church of the Holy Cross (established in 903 AD). The ancient church of the Holy Cross, Chiseldon, Wiltshire was first established in 903 and the Millennium Window includes a pictorial reference to The Ridgeway and nearby Liddington Castle. The icon portrays links to these local historical sites (i.e. the Ridgeway and the Roman road of Ermine Street) as part of a wider illustration of the roads leading from Rome and the travels of St Paul in spreading the Christian message and also to the life of King Alfred (849-899).

The Design and Glazing scheme:

The leading rhythmically moves from the point of Christ’s birth, across to the far right hand panel where some of these colours and shapes are echoed, suggesting that God’s light was in the world before the incarnation of Jesus his Son, and is eternal.

Stained glass window design

The progression of time is marked as a row of red dots across the bottom of the three windows. This again suggests the eternal light of God in the world before and after our own reckoning of time.  The date 2,000 appears at the bottom right hand as digital numbers.

Stained glass window detail


Left-hand window:

  • The 33 years of Christ’s life are represented by the marks moving upwards along the left-hand border of the first window.
  • Illustrations from the life of Christ which appear in the far left-hand panel:
  • The time of the descent of the Holy Spirit to Mary is marked by a single white lily (emerging from the relative darkness of the surrounding colour).
  • A fisher if men – The sign of the early Christians of Jesus as Icthus the fish, the first and the last, upon the body of a netted fish (recalling the Miraculous Draught of Fishes, the Calling of the Apostles as “fishers of men”).
  • The blessing of the bread and the wine, recalling the Last Supper and Holy Communion.
  • The crucifixion, the end and the beginning, illustrated by the three crosses on the hill at Calvary, etched simply into the purple glass at the top of the first window.

The central panel continues:

  • The conversion of St Paul AD and his travels.
  • Constantine 312, ‘in hoc signo vinces’  – recalling the Council of Nicea and the Creed and the first Synod of Bishops.  Constantine’s conversion – the first Christian Emperor of Rome and thus the foundation of western Christianity.  Illustrated by Constantine’s vision of Jesus’ cross appearing upon the sun and ‘in this sign, victory’.
  • St Augustine 597 – Augustine (the first Bishop of the English) and his monks are sent by the Pope to bring the Gospels to Britain.
  • The building of the Church of the Holy Cross at Chiseldon in 903 beside the Ridgeway – and only four years after the death of St Alfred the Great of Wessex whose translation into English of many Latin works on ecclesiastical administration enabled the re-establishment of the educational and social functions of the Church after the Danish invasion.

The right hand window:

  • Johann Gutenburg – the first mechanical printing of the Bible and being of great significance to the spreading of the Christian message.
  • The Reformation – The dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII 1533, the end of Papal rule and the establishment of the Anglican Church.– depicted by light streaming through a ruined abbeys’ rose window – So the light and truth of Jesus’ teaching prevails in the world even amongst the dissolution and reforming of the imperfect earthly body of the Church.
  • Thomas Cranmer and the blue Book of Common Prayer, the revised edition widely accepted in 1622.
  • The admission of women into the priesthood in 1994 – and the unbroken transfer of the Holy Spirit from the time of the apostles to the present day.

The window is made from full antique hand-made glass from the (now defunct) Sunderland firm of Hartley Wood, and flashed antique French glass from St Just, with accent colours in Tatra antique glass from Poland. To find out more about the making of flat glass by the mouth-blown method, see the article ‘antique glass’.  The window was designed and made by Jude Tarrant AMGP of Sunrise Stained Glass Ltd.

To see more church stained glass commissions by the studio please follow this link.

Posted by: Glassartist | April 30, 2009


St John’s School in Leatherhead, Surrey, UK.

The studio Sunrise Stained Glass has been working on new commissions for stained glass windows for churches and other religious buildings in the UK for many years, and were pleased to be invited and selected to provide a major work at a school with a long tradition of involvement with the Anglican Church. St John’s School in Leatherhead, Surrey, was established to educate the children of the Anglican Clergy, and this tradition continues into the present day, although now children of both sexes and all religious denominations are welcomed at the school.

The proposed new window was to be the first stained glass window in what had hitherto been a completely clear glazing scheme, and although the chapel space was flooded with light it was felt that a new window would bring warmth and colour and added meaning into the chapel, and which acts as a focus for school life.


The submitted design was accepted and work began on the new window with the drawing up of the full size window cartoon and the ordering of the hand-made glass that would make up a major part of the window. The particular type of glass used would be a ‘flashed’ glass, i.e. a base colour with a thin surface layer of deeper colour. This type of glass is made in France by St Just and in Germany by Lamberts Glass Company, and is available in a range of combinations of base and surface colour, mostly reds and blues. The flashed glass is chosen because the surface layer of colour can be removed by an aciding out technique, or by abrasion by sand-blasting, and can add a whole new dimension of possibility of colour graduation and painterly effects when skillfully treated. All of the glass in the window is made from hand-made traditional methods, and is painted with kiln-fired metallic oxides or pigments and silver-stain. Silver staining is the use of silver nitrate fired to the glass at varying strengths and temperatures to achieve a wide range of yellow/amber colouration on clear glass. This also of course opens up the possibilities of firing silver stain to coloured glasses to get the oranges and greens for example, when fired to reds and blues. This generally is the only actual colour added to the glass (with the exception of some enameled colour), the colour being already in the glass sheet selected and then subtracted by the aciding process. The great Eagle of Saint John which dominates the centre of the window is a good example of how sheets of solid blue glass were etched and silver-stained to achieve the finished image.

The whole large work was finished by the beginning of March 2009. There were 37 No. separate panels making up the total window measuring 6M x 6M to the apex, and we photographed the installation process as the windows went in one by one. So if you would like to see a stained glass window appear before your eyes, please have a look at the slideshow on Youtube of the windows being fitted in place and we hope you enjoy it.

Stained Glass Window - Eagle of Saint John

Stained Glass Window – Eagle of Saint John

And if you would like to see some more photos of the window, including some more close-up shots then please go to our original website page or to the St John’s Chapel commission on our studio glasspainter and designer’s profile at for galleries that do not need Flash support in your browser.

If you would like to contact the studio please telephone on +44 (0)23 9275 0512 or email

Sunrise Stained Glass Ltd, 58-60 Middle Street, Southsea, Hampshire, PO5 4BP, UK.

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