Stained-glass Windows Research

We are in the process of finding out more about our 5 stunning windows of medieval glass.

If you can help, we would be very pleased to hear from you.

Three of the windows seem to be from the same source, originally a workshop in Cologne, and are dated to c.1510. They depict Christ as Saviour of the World, St John blessing a poisoned cup and thereby expelling an impish looking demon, and St James, with a scallop shell.

The 5th window on the sanctuary is rather different and later, consisting of small cartoon style panels with a variey of figures and scenes. It has some German/Latin script and pictoral references as well as a date of 1650 or 1659 which should make its origins clear to an expert.

The second window in the nave is a particularly intricate and glorious rendition of the Circumcision of Christ, presented in wincing detail. This is similar to, but different enough from, the 3 Cologne windows to suggest a different source, and it is dated slightly later, about 1525. It may have come from a cloister, where such unusual glass subjects were favoured. There appears to be a Carmelite (brown-habited) nun amongst the central group, which may be a clue to its origin. We are reliably informed that the windows were once major cloister windows in the Premonstratension community at Steinfeld Abbey. The minor or donor panels from the same cloister can be seen in the parish church of St Cadoc, Glynneath.

Our story is that Captain Elidyr Herbert acquired the windows in Europe, during the 1st World War. His own service in the Royal Gloucester Hussars was exclusively in Egypt and Palestine from 1915, where he met his untimely death in action in 1917. Evidently there was a roaring trade for a while in the stained-glass produced by German and French anti-clericalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: it was removed and sold rather than destroyed, as it was in the British Isles during the reformation and Civil War. The trade was mainly in the hands of two merchants who produced catalogues and held sales in England as well as elsewhere. Elidyr graduated from King's College Cambridge in 1902, and travelled in Europe subsequently. So it seems likely the windows were acquired between 1902 and 1915, either in England or on the Continent, and probably installed in the existing patterned windows under his supervision. No documentary evidence has yet come to light, so it is a tale that is still to be completed.

We are very glad to have these windows, which are truly beautiful and striking as part of our church's rich heritage; we hope to share them with the wider community in different ways. We also hope to piece together the full story of their journey to Llanarth.