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Historic Stained-glass Windows at Abbot’s Hospital Removed For Repair

Published on: 24 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 30 Oct, 2012

A number of panels from the stained-glass windows in the chapel at Abbot’s Hospital in Guildford High Street have been removed for much-needed repairs.

Sections of this window have already been removed for restoration.

Dating to 1621, the two windows have survived pretty well, and the last time repairs were undertaken is believed to have been in 1904.

Several panels have been taken to Wells in Somerset where a firm of craftsmen are working on them. Specific parts of the intricate paintwork are being restored along with sections of the lead, making good some of the work that done just over 100 years ago.

The master of Abbot’s Hospital, Tony Richmond, said the work has been possible through a number of donations. £16,000 has been donated by the Sita Trust. The recycling and resource management company supports community and environmental projects through its Landfill Communities Fund. The JP Getty Charitable Trust has donated £4,000. The total cost of repairs is expected to be in the region of £38,000, and further donations have been made by other organisations and individuals.

Mr Richmond said: “Some renovation work will also be done to the window frames and we hope that it will all be completed by the end of this year.”

The almshouse, was set up by Archbishop George Abbot in 1619 as a gift to the town in which he was born and opened in the same year. It continues to offer accommodation to 26 people and is run as a registered charity.

If you look closely at the panel on the far right you can just see where it was cut to fit, ”chopping off’ part of one of the figures!

Residents regularly attend services in the small chapel. The stained-glass windows, however, have a little mystery attached to them. The actual stone window frames were, at the time of the building’s construction, not new and were recycled. It is thought they may have originally been used in Guildford’s friary – now the site of the Friary centre.

The stained-glass windows are thought to be the finest surviving examples of work by 17th century Flemish glaziers, Abraham and Bernard Van Linge.

And it seems that the stained-glass panels may have been commissioned before the window frames, and when they were inserted it was found they didn’t quite fit! In once section, at least, the glass has been cut to fit the stone frame as a person depicted can only be partially seen!

The foundation stone of Abbot’s Hospital now partially hidden behind the altar in the chapel.

Another curious feature in the chapel, and normally out of view behind the altar, is Abbot’s Hospital’s foundation stone. When the building was erected this stone was on an outside wall facing east. Originally that wall would have been exposed for all to see, but now the buildings that form part of the top of North Street obscure it. At some date the stone was removed from the outside and reinserted inside the chapel.

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Responses to Historic Stained-glass Windows at Abbot’s Hospital Removed For Repair

  1. Mary Alexander

    October 25, 2012 at 11:47 am

    The idea that this window came from the Friary is interesting but there are problems with it. The Friary was closed down in 1538. People were living there during the 16th century but the church would normally have been demolished to stop Roman Catholic services from being held there.

    This window was not necessarily from the Friary church, though. It could have been in the chapter house, or the refectory, for example. A new mansion house was built around 1610, using the foundations of part of the Friary. The window in Abbot’s Hospital chapel would have been very unfashionable for a house built in 1610. If it did come from the medieval Friary where had it been since 1538, or 1610?