Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Windows into the past

There were reports online yesterday about work at Canterbury Cathedral which has re-dated four panels of stained glass to the period 1130-1160, making them probably the oldest such pieces in the country. York Minster has a re-set panel from a Jesse Tree which is currently assigned a date of 1154. The Canterbury panels are on making a similar theological and historical point about the regal ancestors of Christ.

This combination of art history and cutting edge scientific work has revealed once again what a treasury of historic art Canterbury is as a cathedral. It gives one pause for thought that these four panels admitted the twilight to the Vespers at which St Thomas was slain, the penance of Kingswood Henry II, survived the fire that ravaged the cathedral a few years later, were saved and re-inserted into its successor, witnessed the translation of St Thomas’ relics and the visits of pilgrims. Light streamed through them for the funerals of Edward Prince of Wales and King Henry IV, for the visits of Kings and Queens from King Henry II and King Louis VII onwards, of Emperors - Sigismund and Charles V - of Pope John Paul II, and survived the varied impacts of reformation, civil war, neglect, re-location and twentieth century bombs.

The BBC News website illustrated account of the research is available to view at Canterbury Cathedral stained glass is among world's oldest

The Independent has a very good report, again with fine photographs, and including the suggestion that the twelfth century glass itself was made from re-cycling Roman glass. It can be seen at Revealed: Britain’s oldest stained glass windows – hiding in plain sight for 900 years

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