Stained Glass Windows - STAINED GLASS in the UK

STAINED GLASS in the UK (Illustration) Geography Medieval Times Philosophy Visual Arts

Canterbury Cathedral, in England, boasts many beautiful medieval-era stained-glass windows.  This image depicts the detail of a "Becket Window."  Photo by Tobias von der Haar, online via Flickr. 


When Rome ruled Britain, Christians in Canterbury (a town about sixty miles southeast of London) worshiped in a church ultimately honoring St. Martin. The ancient historian, Venerable Bede, provides background:

There was on the east side of the city a church dedicated to the honor of St Martin, built whilst the Romans were still in the island, wherein the queen [Bertha, that is] ... used to pray. In this they first began to meet, to sing, to pray, to say mass, to preach, and to baptize, till the king, [Ethelbert] being converted to the faith, allowed them to preach openly, and build or repair churches in all places. (Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book I, Chapter XXVI.)

Still standing, St. Martin's Church is England's oldest still in use. (It is also the oldest in the English-speaking world.) Nearby is Canterbury Cathedral, known for its beauty and an infamous murder.

Although the Cathedral, dating from medieval times, has been vandalized and intentionally damaged, it still has a few original stained-glass windows, including:

Some of the windows, in the current cathedral, include rescued and reused medieval glass. (Experts, restoring windows during medieval times, used ... urine ... as part of their repair mixtures.) Other windows, added (or conserved) throughout the centuries, reflect the style and color of later times:

A recent discovery, during restoration work at the Canterbury Cathedral, revealed the use of a "space frame," dating back to 1180. Before that revelation, experts had believed it was Alexander Graham Bell who'd devised the space frame engineering solution. This find, however, shows a working space frame in place about 700 years before Bell's idea.

Westminster Abbey, like Canterbury Cathedral, is famous not just for itself (and its stained glass) but for important events which have occurred there:

  • It was the scene, for example, of Princess Diana's funeral (during which Elton John famously sang Goodbye England's Rose).
  • As the BBC live-broadcasted that event, the cameraman (at 5:25 in the video clip) focused on the abbey's beautiful stained-glass windows.

Italy, likewise, is home to famous churches with gorgeous glass art. It's the next stop on our virtual journey.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 01, 2008

Updated Last Revision: Mar 18, 2017

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"STAINED GLASS in the UK" AwesomeStories.com. Nov 01, 2008. Jan 19, 2020.
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