On the Window Trail – September 2009 (3)

The following is an edit of a post which first appeared in September 2009 on The Blah Blah Blog.

Stephen chatting with the Parish Administrator of St Johns, Belmont in front of a window that had been moved from another church.  Stephens fathers window was on the other side of the church.

Stephen chatting with the Parish Administrator of St Johns, Belmont in front of a window that had been moved from another church. Stephens fathers window was on the other side of the church.

Last day in Surrey.  We  headed off to Belmont (Sutton) where LSL had a very large window opposite the one shown here.  I chatted with the vicar and said I loved the old Victorian windows but I preferred LSL’s because they were a bit more spiritual and ‘hallelujah’ than the traditional ones which were more ‘religious’.  Not sure he got what I was saying.  He was very polite about it though.

As well as collecting images of LSL’s windows and the others in the churches (for context), I wanted to document Stephen’s discoveries as well.  But he was very camera shy so I had to sneak up on him quite a lot.  I think I’ve got a few nice ones but I would have liked to have caught him and each of his father’s windows in the same shot more than once (Reigate).

A window by Alan Younger, former student of LSL

A window by Alan Younger, former student of LSL

Next was St Mary’s at Ewell.  We entered the church via the office and at first thought that this window was the one we were looking for.  On the opposite wall, however, was a definite LSL window, with signature.  We queried this with the lady in the office who said that the dove and the rest of the window had been made at the same time (we thought the bottom part wasn’t LSL’s but the dove was very distinctively his style).  She went off to check and told us it was done by Alan Younger.  Stephen remembered that he had been one of his father’s students and assistants and had gone on to become successful in his own right.  He died two or three years ago.

So that explained why the dove was so like LSL’s doves.  The LSL window opposite has a dove above the main image so perhaps this was added to reflect the older window and acknowledge his ‘master’.  LSL operated a traditional apprenticeship style of mentoring with his students/assistants.

Huge window by LSL at St Mary the Virgin, Cuddington. Click the image to link to another of his windows in the same church.

After Ewell we went to Cuddington – some beautiful windows all through the church.  In addition to LSL’s modern windows, there was another contemporary one that I liked by Andrew Johnson.  It’s in the children’s corner and was installed in 2005.  The effect of the light on the floor is shown below, from a momentary burst of sunshine outside.

We quickly slotted in a trip to St Andrew’s in Oxshott but weren’t sure that we’d found an LSL window.  There was a large circular window up high which Stephen thought might have been his father’s, but the photos (not very clear because of the distance) do not show any of his ‘trademark’ styles.  Not all of his windows do, of course, but there really wasn’t anything to confirm authorship.  We will have to contact the church and make further investigations.  It might be that he did some restoration work for the church and didn’t in fact produce a window there.

It was time to head back to Portsmouth to drop Stephen at the ferry before heading off to Romsey to stay with friends there.  We discovered we were near another church from the list from which we hadn’t managed to contact – at Ockham – but it was closed.  The rest of the journey back went smoothly and we got back to Portsmouth at around 5.30pm.  I took the opportunity to stretch my legs and pay a visit before heading off for the rest of my road trip around the country.

Cuddington Lights

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On the Window Trail – September 2009 (2)

The following is an edit of a post which first appeared in September 2009 on The Blah Blah Blog.

Pippa Martin photographing Lawrence Lee’s window at St James’ Church, Abinger

In the morning we headed back to Abinger as the churchwarden had said he would open it up for us.  It is currently undergoing extensive renovation so was quite bare.  Lawrence Lee’s window was the only stained glass in the place – and was rather wonderful.  An abstract cross across three panels (I will learn the proper terminology when I get home, but for now you will have to make do with my clumsy descriptions).

We met up with Pippa and David again – they were on their way to a local birthday party.  Pippa said that there was a very French feel to this window and that LSL said the trouble with Victorians was that everything had to be symmetrical, but that left no margin for error.  He advised her to avoid symmetry.  She also said that LSL’s windows were never monotonous because he used such small pieces of glass.  It’s a shame we couldn’t have had her with us for the whole journey – her insights are interesting and I wanted to learn more.

LSL’s signature on the window at Holy Trinity, Bramley

We left them to their party and headed to Holy Trinity, Bramley.  This was  a very Victorian looking church with lots of gold and many many stained glass windows.  LSL’s window was quite traditional, as many of his earlier pieces are.  As he became more known and sought after, it seems he was given a freer hand in the design and interpretations.

Although this was a solo window, it is worth mentioning that LSL was unusual in that he always included the name or initials of his assistant within his signature.  Stephen remembered a lot of them as we discovered their names as we went along.  We have found a few online in the past but will be making contact for this project soon.

Stephen studies the extensive book about St Mary & All Saints, Dunsfold

Next was Dunsfold.  The church was set quite a way away from any houses and we discussed that some villages were moved away from the churches during The Plague and set up a little further away.  This church was wonderful – a fabulous old yew tree in the grounds and fascinating old wood and roof tiles to keep me happy taking photographs outside for ages.  There is so much to say about this church and I couldn’t do it justice off the top of my head, so I’ll fill in those details on the Flickr photos when I upload them.

It is worth noting here that Stephen’s preferred reading method is to remove his glasses and press his nose against the page.  He emerges every so often with a gem of information.  The glasses are useful for scratching his head.

We then headed off to Bisley and a lovely little church, also set away from the village.  This time, apparently, it was because it had been a Pilgrim’s Church – erected for travelling monks and other pilgrims.  We were let into the church by the church warden who hastily removed a notice board from in front of LSL’s very vivid window (see bottom) and swept away the cobwebs for me too.

Stephen chats to Rev Andrew Body about his father’s window at St Lawrence, Chobham

Our last church for the day was St Lawrence in Chobham.  There we met the Rev Andrew Body who was most informative about the church building and very interested in our project.  The pews each have a different carving on the end, and each one tells a story.  The pulpit was carved by teenagers – in the 1800s – and the church also boasts very rare ‘elbow supports’.  Again, I will need to learn more about this to be able to describe it fully, so watch this space if you are interested.

Detail from LSL’s window at St John the Baptist, Bisley

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On the Window Trail – September 2009 (1)

The following is an edit of a post which first appeared in September 2009 on The Blah Blah Blog.

We got an early ferry to Southampton (the Portsmouth ferries were fully booked because of Bestival) and headed off to Surrey.  The weekend plans were to try to photograph Stephen’s father’s stained glass windows in the area – as many as possible.  Stephen’s father is Lawrence Stanley Lee (LSL), a master stained glass artist who will be 100 years old next week!

Pippa and Brenda discussing LSL’s 1954 window at St Luke’s, Reigate

We had a list of 21 places to visit, though we didn’t expect to be able to get to them all.  A few emails had been sent prior to leaving and I’d had a few replies, but we still weren’t sure exactly where we would be going.  We had, however been invited to lunch by Pippa – one of LSL’s former assistants.  She met us at St Luke’s Church in Reigate where we were let into the church by a lovely local lady, Brenda, who had lived in the town all her life and remembered the windows being installed in 1954.

Pippa is currently restoring one of the large windows in this church and I was able to get some close-up photos for her before we went to her home nearby for lunch in the garden.

LSL was a little unusual in that he always added his assistant’s name or initials to his signature on the windows.  On this window was the name C R Wallis – an assistant who went on to become one of Canada’s leading stained glass artists.

Pippa shows us a beautiful piece of very expensive red stained glass, in her fascinating studio

At Pippa’s we saw some of her own work – she has a magnificent stained glass piece in her front door and another on the landing of her beautiful house which is full of visual joys.  We were also treated to a visit to her glass studio upstairs.  What a place!  I could have spent hours there just photographing everything.

The three of us headed off to Abinger to see if the church there was open.  I hadn’t received a reply to my email but both Stephen and Pippa were keen to give it a try.  Unfortunately the church was locked and when we phoned the warden he said that he would be able to open it the next day for us.  I took a lot of photos in the grounds though, and the light was lovely.

Detail from LSL’s window at St Luke’s, Reigate

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