Wakefield's stained glass treasures to be protected

Scaffolding has gone up at Wakefield Cathedral this month for the final project in the redevelopment of this iconic landmark which will protect and conserve its famous stained glass at the south end of the building.

Wakefield Cathedral has an exceptional collection of 19th century stained glass and is home to one of the most outstanding collections from the studio of the Victorian artist Charles Eamer Kempe.

The funding for this project has come from the World War I Fund set up for cathedrals by the former Chancellor, George Osborne, and the work is expected to continue until after Christmas.

The Dean, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener, explained: “During Project 2015, we were able very successfully to conserve some of the windows in the East End. This gave us the impetus to do similar, though much more extensive, work in the nave.”

During the work – which is being undertaken by Barley Stained Glass Studios in York - the windows on the south side will be replaced with clear glass for visibility and for aesthetics so that the cathedral does not look boarded up to the world outside.

They will be isothermally glazed to deter further deterioration to the glass both from the elements externally and from condensation internally.

Said Jonathan: “This is the last major piece of work to do in the building, and I am delighted that it is now underway. There will be some disruption, but we shall do our best to keep this to a minimum, and ensure that cathedral life continues pretty much as normal.”

Watch a short film that tells the story of Wakefield’s stained glass treasures made with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund before work got underway to renew the Cathedral in 2013:

John Bailey, Cathedral Architect:

Wakefield Cathedral has an exceptional collection of 19th century stained glass and at its heart is one of the most outstanding collections from the studio of the Victorian artist Charles Eamer Kempe. The Cathedral’s collection of glass spans Kempe’s working life of 1877 to 1907 and consists of 23 windows. Perhaps the jewel in the collection are the series of windows in the north and south nave aisles. In the north aisle we have windows depicting Creation (1894) and The Fall of Man (1887), and then five windows depicting prophets and kings from the Old Testament (1886, 87 and 1891). The final window in the north aisle represents the Annunciation (1889) and leads into the south aisle windows which are based on the New Testament. The south aisle windows start with 5 windows showing the Apostles and Saints from the New Testament, all dating from 1873, and one window dedicated to female saints from the New Testament also dated 1873. The western most windows in the south aisle are in fact not by Kempe. The first is by H.M.Barnett (1888) and represents the infant Jesus and Christ in Majesty, and the second is by J Hardman & Co dated 1874 and represents the blessing of children and the Baptism of Christ. The last window in the nave to consider is the western window in the tower. Perhaps the single most impressive window, it represents the resurrection of the dead and is by J Hardman & Co dated 1868. This is the third oldest window in the Cathedral.