by Jo Clarke, Marketing and Communications Officer
with thanks to Jodie Bishop, Public Art Officer

One of the things we’re trying to do in a range of ways with The Box is combine the historic with the contemporary – even through the work that’s happening on the construction site. We may be creating a visitor attraction for the future, but a lot of the work also involves traditional craft techniques and processes.

From stone masonry to lime mortar rendering to lead working – the refurbishment of St Luke’s Church and the historic features in the Edwardian parts of the former Central Library and City Museum and Art Gallery are involving trades that are centuries old.

One of the most visible elements of this is the repair work to the stained-glass windows in St Luke’s Church.

When work began on the church the windows were removed and transported to Glasswood, near Yeovil – a conservation company who specialise in historic windows and doors. Some of the windows had become quite badly buckled or bent over the years and a few of the glass pieces had cracked. This collage shows them in the Glasswood studio.

St Luke's Church windows in the conservation studio, 2018

Stencils were made of the panes before they were carefully taken apart and re-leaded following the original designs. The damaged or broken glass was colour matched as closely as possible and replaced.

The stonework has also been cleaned and restored and the windows have been re-installed with new saddle bars. Here are a couple of collages showing the Glasswood team at work.

St Luke's Church Windows Landscape Collage

St Luke's Church Windows Portrait Collage

Here are some video snippets we’ve stitched together. The transcription for the short interviews included in the clips is below.

On creating the stencils of each pane:
They’ve been totally stripped apart. We’ve taken a rubbing of them. So we get two rubbings, put one rubbing down, strip the whole panel apart, take each piece out and put it down on the rubbing so we know exactly where it came from.

On fitting the windows:
Where the join is between the two panels you put some flat putty in there and then dress some it over so one’s overlapping the other one and that seals it.

On the condition of the windows before the restoration work:
The majority of them were okay. It’s mainly the border glass that gets broken.
Can you match the colours?
Well it’s not always exactly the same but it’s the closest match possible and it’s pretty good.
We’ve had to change quite a bit of the border and a few of these little green bits here as they’re really thin and fragile. Quite a few of them had cracked.

While this has been going on, the large East Window in St Luke’s has been measured using traditional tracing techniques and stencils to accurately mark the curves and decorative rose pattern at the top.

St Luke's Church East Window

The templates that have been created will be used by an artist to develop a new design for the window.
Here you can see Jodie, our Public Art Officer discussing the templates with a member of the Glasswood team.

Looking at the templates for the east window tracery in St Luke's Church

You can also see and hear more in this official video.

The stained-glass windows have now been re-installed in St Luke’s and look gorgeous. We’ll keep you posted on developments with the East Window and the artist who is chosen to undertake the commission as things progress.

Looking at the re-installed windows in St Luke's Church